Note: These are recent cargo and baggage incidents that the FAA is aware of. This should not be considered as a complete listing of all such incidents. The incident summaries included here are intended to be brief and objective. They do not represent all information the FAA has collected, nor do they include all investigative or enforcement actions taken. This list does not include three major aircraft accidents where lithium battery cargo shipments were implicated but not proven to be the source of the fire: An Asiana Airlines 747 near South Korea on July 28, 2011, a UPS 747 in Dubai, UAE on September 3, 2010 and a UPS DC-8 in Philadelphia, PA on February 7, 2006
FAA Advises Airline Passengers to Pack Safely
If you are an airline passenger packing your bags to travel for the holidays, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises you to take a moment to check out the agency’s Pack Safe website. There are many items that people use on a daily basis that are considered hazardous materials when packed to fly on a plane. Flyers should know that e-cigarettes, vaping devices, and spare lithium batteries should NOT be packed in their checked luggage. Spare lithium batteries – the kind that are found in personal electronic devices and back-up charging devices – can only travel in carry-on baggage.
Electronic devices powered by lithium batteries can catch fire if they are damaged or have exposed electrical terminals. Devices that smoke or catch fire are much easier to extinguish in the cabin than they are in the cargo hold. So, the FAA recommends that passengers keep cell phones and other devices nearby in the cabin, so they can quickly access them, if necessary.
However, even in carry-on baggage, spare lithium batteries should be protected from damage or short circuiting. Ensuring that the batteries are packed properly and are not touching or bumping something that could potentially cause them to spark. If batteries are not sealed in manufacturer packaging, the battery terminals should be protected by covering them with tape and placing them in separate bags to prevent short circuits.
Some of the other common toiletries that passengers may plan to pack, but that could be hazardous include: aerosol cans that may contain hair spray, deodorant, tanning spray or animal repellant; nail polish; artist paints; and glues.
For more detailed information about materials that should not fly, visit the FAA’s Hazardous Materials Safety website.
To be on the safe side, when in doubt, just leave it out!