back to article iPhone XR caught fire after getting trapped in airline passenger's seat

An Apple iPhone XR caught fire aboard a British Airways Boeing 787 mid-flight after a clumsy passenger dropped it down the side of her seat. The Club World passenger, flying from Miami to Heathrow, had raised her seat from its lie-flat bed position back to the conventional one while a stewardess rearranged her bedding. Yet on …

  1. Andy Non Silver badge

    Was the passenger

    in the hot seat?

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Was the passenger

      You're folding it wrong

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    If you're seeking ever higher energy density

    <irony>Considering the hazards these batteries present already, why not go one better on energy density by using dynamite.</irony>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you're seeking ever higher energy density

      Human fat has an astonishingly high energy density - better than many explosives. But, fortunately, it doesn't end to go Bang!

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: If you're seeking ever higher energy density

        So a future smartphone "charger" might allow you to suck fat out of your belly to power it up? File your patents now!

      2. Zarno Bronze badge

        Re: If you're seeking ever higher energy density

        Depends on how processed it becomes.

        The first rule about Fight Club...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you're seeking ever higher energy density

        It depends on the lady

  3. Nifty Silver badge

    Shocking article. I didn't know that aeroplanes were still flying.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      How else...?

      did the Indian variant of Covid-19 get here then? By Elephant...?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: How else...?

        Nope, it got here because our world beating government left the borders wide open and listed India as a "green" country despite burgeoning infection rates.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How else...?

          Don't worry. Exports of the Kent version mean the UK virus spreading deficit is pretty even.

  4. yetanotheraoc

    Clumsy while sleeping

    "... after a clumsy passenger dropped it down the side of her seat. The Club World passenger, flying from Miami to Heathrow, had raised her seat from its lie-flat bed position back to the conventional one while a stewardess rearranged her bedding."

    Clumsy while sleeping, I am often guilty of that. Things not to do while falling asleep.

    * Wear glasses (have suffered bent frames from this).

    * Prop laptop on knees.

    * Drink tea.

    Have done all of the above, sometimes all at the same time. The problem is the "shouldn't do this" execution path is avoided in favor of the "power down for sleep *now*" instruction.

    It's quite likely the phone was fine right up until the flight attendant change the seat position.

    1. JakeMS

      Re: Clumsy while sleeping

      Yeah.. it's things like this why I don't sleep on aeroplanes.

      Pre-covid I had a nice 19 hour flight from England to Japan, and ofc, the same back to England (with a brief stop in Dubai, around 1 hr or so both ways).

      Me being me, stayed awake the whole time with no sleep for both flights because on a flight there's two things I don't trust:

      1) Other passengers, who are these people sat next to you? What do you know about them? When you're flying alone like I do, the answer is "I don't know them". - So I don't want to lose my phone or other possessions while asleep... as such no sleep for me... just use my phone until I land (Yes.. I buy the in flight internet access, with VPN active ofc).

      2) If you do drop something while asleep - By the time you notice it could be too late to recover it.

      Almost every flight I've been on there's been another passenger saying "Hey, I lost my phone where is it?!" after waking.. usually it's found on the floor or under a seat.. but still, if you didn't check? Just thought it's in your bag?

      And ofc and by the time feeding time comes I want my damn food because I'm hungry.. usually by feeding time I'm light headed and feeling faint on a long flight (food always fixes that)... so unlike other passengers who sleep right through it then complain there's no food, I need my food.

      So imo, it's better to simply not sleep on aeroplanes, you get all the food and keep your stuff.

      Oh, and last tip.. only drink the bottled water on an aircraft, about half way through the flight switch to juices... You don't want to know why...

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        Sorry you are so distrustful of people. I've never had anything stolen from me on a plane and I've slept on lots of long-hauls. Sounds like you could do with some cognitive behavioral therapy to address what sounds like an irrational fear.

        If they can afford to fly that far internationally they are probably not after your stuff.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Clumsy while sleeping

          The original poster is not wrong. Several cases of inflight theft have occurred and been reported on as far back as 2011 (money and valuables have both 'been disappeared' on flights and yes, it affects not only economy, but business and first too). Unfortunately I am of the same opinion that locking things up is a good idea. I tend to wear a jacket with pockets on a plane anyway and will zip my stuff into them (or stick the items in my trouser/trackie pockets).

        2. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

          Re: Clumsy while sleeping

          The only problem I see would be being hostile to your seat neighbors. Always cautious is really OK.

        3. JakeMS
          Thumb Down

          Re: Clumsy while sleeping

          On planes I just sit quietly minding my own business while staying awake. That's my choice. If you feel that needs therapy then maybe you don't actually understand mental issues at all, because that is far from having issues compared to many people who come to my store that I give advice and help to often for real mental issues (mostly adults, not just teens).

          Mental issues are not something you should joke about. They're not a joke.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            Re: Clumsy while sleeping

            "Sit[ting] quietly" guarding your stuff from the thieves all around you sounds a bit deranged to me too.

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        The one time I left my phone on a plane was also the one time I didn't partake of the in-flight booze and follow up with a nap. It's a poor correlation, to be sure, but it's enough for me.


      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        I've only once slept on a long haul flight - and that was almost 20 years ago. I'd flown from the UK to Australia (Sydney) to contact a capability audit on a project management company wanting to bid for utility construction work in the UK. I left home on a Saturday lunchtime and arrived in Sydney on the Monday morning, after 3 flights (approaching 40 hours) and no sleep. The auditee was meant to have arranged a morning hotel check-in so I could sleep, ready to start the audit on the Tuesday morning. Hotel room not ready so I turned up at their office a day early. Slept well that evening...

        I left Sydney on the Thursday afternoon (getting home on the Friday afternoon - just over 6 days away). I slept on the first leg back, an ~8 hour flight to KL. I woke up as we approached KL; the man next to me (I had an aisle seat) spoke and hoped he hadn't disturbed me when he stepped over me to get out during the flight. He explained, his brother was the pilot and had invited him onto the flight deck; he would have invited me along as well, but as I was asleep, he didn't;t want to disturb me. This was after 9/11 and any chance of visiting the flight deck was normally zero - unlike pre-9/11 when it was quite common to be allowed into the cockpit (if you asked). I'd never been in a 747 one in flight, and that had to be the one flight I slept on :(

        As a PS, my visit was a couple weeks after England had beaten Australia in the Rugby World Cup final; the shops around the harbour were full of national rugby shirts for sale (and discounted); strangely, not one England shirt - I asked in one shop and was told all stock of them was now at the bottom of the harbour!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        @JakeMS I bet you're great fun on holiday.

      5. Joe Gurman

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        Fly between Blighty and NZ a lot, do you?

    2. Solviva

      Re: Clumsy while sleeping

      As written the details seem a bit fishy...

      Passenger was in lie-flat position presumably having been lying flat. Passenger moved seat to seat-mode, so stewardess could re-arrange bedding. How do you (re-) arrange bedding on a seat when it's in seat mode???

      Furthermore this is BA's business class, not Singapore's first class. Arranging your bedding is up to you, well as much as the 'bedding' consists of a blanket and a pillow.

      1. Unoriginal Handle

        Re: Clumsy while sleeping

        From the AAIB report - "One of the cabin crew asked the passenger if she could stow the bedding whilst the passenger was away from her seat", as the aircraft was in the last 40 minutes of the flight, starting to secure the aircraft for the descent and landing.

  5. First Light Silver badge

    Just an iPhone . ..

    Thank Elon* it wasn't a Tesla given that horrendous fire in Texas.

    Elon is the new God. Old God, take a back seat in Elon's sort-of-but-not-really self-driving car.

    1. Spiz

      Re: Just an iPhone . ..

      Yup - I often take an entire car on a plane with me.

      We get it - you don't like Elon. Chill out.

      1. Joe Gurman

        Re: Just an iPhone . ..

        Well, Elon did put one on a rocket.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Baked Apples

    They are cooking them wrong if they smell of sulphur, mine always smell of cinnamon.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Andre Carneiro

      It "could be" lots of things. We don't know, there is no official report as yet.

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        "Could be"

        There's pretty good article on the state of the investigation as of Tuesday at Ars Technica. Their take away It's a confusing situation where all possible explanations seem rather unlikely.

        BTW, the police seem (or at least seemed two days ago) quite certain that the driver's seat was empty and both passengers were belted in.

        The most plausible explanation based on the "facts" at hand would seem to be that there was a third entity driving the vehicle who was teleported to safety just before impact.

        I doubt we'll have to wait for an official report. That may take months or years. But we certainly would seem to need more complete/more accurate data.

  8. dougkiwi

    Air New Zealand usually includes a warning in their pre-flight safety videos like: if you lose your phone in your seat, don't try to pull it out, call for a crew member to help you. So this is why.

    1. Solviva

      Maybe the should update it to 'before you move your seat, check your phone is not somewhere inside the seat'.

      You don't know your phone isn't lost until you've lost it.

      1. Precordial thump

        The phone exists in a superposition of lost and found states until someone goes looking for it. It's only when you find it that you know whether it's exploded or not.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          "The phone exists in a superposition of lost and found states?"

          A phone in a superposition of lost and found states can emit foul smelling smoke? Could this observation be the long sought after key to truly understanding quantum mechanics?

          1. Sherrie Ludwig

            A phone in a superposition of lost and found states can emit foul smelling smoke? Could this observation be the long sought after key to truly understanding quantum mechanics?

            When the sulfur smell is detected, the wave form collapsed. "Observation" can be olfactory or auditory (I suppose tactile as well) in addition to Mark I eyeball.

          2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            The whiff is the observation. When you smell it, it's no longer lost.

        2. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Occasionally as it decays back into existence the superposed phone spits out a red sock in someone else's washing load of white linens.

    2. JasonLaw

      The BA safety briefing says the same thing.

  9. John Robson Silver badge

    The fact that we hear about this suggests that it is fairly rare

    Which is good.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I guess phones will have to banned from flights now

    the iPhone bomber has a new way of causing passenger inconvenience.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: I guess phones will have to banned from flights now

      if you see somebody putting their seat up and down over and over, throw them out the window just to be safe.

  12. petethebloke

    Immolation is not burning phones

    Immolation is sacrifice. As far as I can tell it only became linked with burning after the Buddhist monk in 1963.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ryan Air*

    Ryan Air* have eliminated the problem by fixing their seats into an upright position. Remember - the discomfort you are experiencing is for your own good.

    *Other cheap airlines also available

    1. gotes

      Re: Ryan Air*

      Do you need to recline on a short haul flight? I certainly don't expect reclining seats when I'm on a bus, which is essentially what Ryanair services are.

  14. adam 40 Silver badge

    That coulda got a whole lot worse!

    They put water on a Li battery fire!!!

    You really need a graphite powder extinguisher for those ones. Quite specialist though.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: That coulda got a whole lot worse!

      The water isn't to extinguish the fire, but to keep that spot cold enough the fire doesn't spread.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: That coulda got a whole lot worse!

      The volume of water matters with an li battery fire.

      A bit is bad. Putting it into a bucket will cool the battery faster than it can re-ignite.

  15. Dabooka Silver badge

    Passenger responsibility?

    I'm a bit undecided here, I can see how the passenger didn't do this maliciously so understand how it may not have put the liability at their door but come on. Surely there has to be person accountability here.

    I've got a nine year old who sometimes struggles with accountability of actions (such as damaged Switch controllers...) but you know, they're nine. As a grown adult who fucking around with a seat they are told not to do who charges the phone up but doesn't notice it falling down the gap, I cannot help but feel their insurance should be getting a bill here. I hope that happened at least.

    Plus a couple of high profile cases may be the best way to educate the masses

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Passenger responsibility?

      Wow, bit surprised here; 5 downvotes? Has the El Reg massif gone soft?!

  16. dave 93

    What happened to the haters?...

    Dropped in for the obligatory Reg Apple hating after the product launches yesterday.

    All those new coloured iMacs and fancy AirTags, and this is the best you can do? Sad...

  17. Joe Gurman


    ....the passenger mangles her iPhone unintentionally by raising the seat when the phone had got caught in the mechanism, which shredded the battery.

    Can you tell me which models of smartphones, by manufacturer, that could have prevented a fire in that situation?

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: Wait....

      Nokia 3210

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Wait....

        Yup, that and the 3310 would have mangled the mechanism.

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