This Diverted Plane Shows Exactly Why You Shouldn't Retrieve a Lost Electronic While Flying

A recent United Airlines flight recently diverted after a passenger's laptop got stuck “in an inaccessible location.”

<p>izusek/Getty Images</p>

izusek/Getty Images

A transatlantic United Airlines plane headed to the United States was diverted over the weekend after a laptop got stuck on board.

Flight UA12 was headed from Zurich to Chicago on Sunday when the laptop got stuck “in an inaccessible location,” United confirmed to Travel + Leisure. The flight, operated on a Boeing 767 aircraft, was diverted to Shannon, Ireland, over the “potential safety risk.”

The aircraft took off at 9:46 a.m. local time and flew across the British Isles and out over the Atlantic Ocean before making a u-turn and heading back to Ireland, landing about five hours later, according to flight tracker FlightAware.

It was not immediately clear where on the aircraft the laptop got stuck.

United told T+L the airline provided hotel accommodations for the 157 passengers on the flight and arranged for a new aircraft to take them to Chicago on Monday.

Any item with a lithium battery — including cell phones, laptops, tablets, or smart watches — can be a potential fire hazard, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the batteries are capable of overheating and ultimately catching fire.

Moving a seat to try to access a stuck device could damage the battery and cause a potential fire. Which is why if an item does get stuck, the FAA recommends notifying the flight crew.

“Flight crews are trained to recognize and respond to lithium battery fires in the cabin,” according to the FAA. “Passengers should notify flight crew immediately if their lithium battery or device is overheating, expanding, smoking or burning.”

These lithium batteries must also be carried in carry-on luggage. In fact, airlines banned these types of batteries in smart luggage years ago.

Overall, there have been more than 500 verified incidents involving lithium batteries and smoke, fire, or extreme heat from March 2006 to April 2024, according to the FAA. This year alone, there have been 22.

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