Lithium Ion Battery Explodes in TSA Checkpoint Lane, Sends Travelers Fleeing

Nov 13, 2017

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Travelers at Orlando International Airport (MCO) were left scrambling from a TSA checkpoint security lane after smoke started emanating from a passenger’s bag. On Friday, the smoke coming from the bag caused an evacuation of the airport, as well as flight delays and cancellations.

Video shows passengers waiting in a TSA security lane when there was reportedly a loud noise that came from a passenger’s bag. Not long after, smoke started coming from the bag. Upon seeing the commotion, a TSA officer grabbed the bag and brought it to a less-crowded area — of course, not knowing what could have been the cause.

After the airport had been evacuated, the bag was searched. Inside, officials found a lithium ion camera battery that had exploded, causing the bag to catch fire.

According to the Greater Orlando International Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown, the passenger “immediately dropped the bag and those around them moved away from it.” A TSA official, Ricado Perez, then “arrived quickly and moved the bag farther away” from those in the crowded airport terminal. Perez, at the time, thought the bag contained an explosive device. However, inside was just a camera battery.

Camera batteries like the one that exploded are legal for passengers to bring on flights. The FAA allows lithium ion batteries on board as long as they’re less than 100 watt hours and in carry-on bags.

That being said, it’s no surprise that lithium ion batteries are susceptible to explosions. Earlier this year, the US implemented an electronics ban, requiring passengers to put large electronic devices in their checked luggage. At the time, the policy raised concerns about the hazard, specifically if something exploded mid-flight in the cargo hold. The FAA had a differing opinion in October, however, when it announced that it’s urging airlines to ban the checking of large electronics due to the risk of them catching fire.

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