A few months ago, the FAA and TSA said that laptops were becoming the choice tool of terrorists to blow up aircraft.   Panic ensued, passengers were pissed, nothing bigger than a smart phone can be in the cabin.  You were assured of imminent doom should anything with a battery come aboard a plane with you because someone would use it to blow you out of the sky.

Fast forward to today…..

Laptops shouldn’t be in checked luggage, they’ll spontaneously combust and become little terrorist devices that will blow you out of the sky.   Laptops and similar electronics must be brought aboard the aircraft if you are to survive that flight to Munich.   If you check your laptop, you don’t stand a chance of getting to your destination.  You’ll die in a plunging fireball…….

A little too much?  Sure.  But according to the FAA and ICAO, laptops apparently have no business being inside of checked luggage.

In a report released by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) during its recent gathering in Montreal on October 27, it supports the FAA’s conclusion that packing a large electronic device into checked bags poses a substantial fire threat to an aircraft.

The FAA begun testing laptops inside of luggage after the TSA imposed a ban on electronic devices being brought into the cabin in the summer of this year.  At the time of this new TSA policy, no testing had been carried out to merit the safety of checking electronics equipped with large, volatile batteries into the cargo hold.   During the FAA testing, it was found that when a moderate heat source was added to a laptop inside a suitcase packed with other items such as clothing and items containing liquids, 1 out of 5 laptops showed ‘thermal runaway’ that could potentially ignite the laptop.

According to the testing, the most alarming discovery was what happened when the battery ignited causing other items in the suit case to catch fire.   Suitcases containing things such as aerosol (dry) shampoo, nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and other similar items that contain even trace amounts of alcohol resulted in the complete burning of the suitcase which led to adjacent luggage also catching fire. 

In the situation with having flammable liquids in the case with a ‘runaway’ battery, the FAA conducting 4 additional tests with a ‘runaway’ battery.    3 of the 4 tests resulted in a fire causing full destruction of the suitcase and spreading to other pieces of luggage in the cargo hold.   1 test had the fire contained inside the suitcase without any damage to outside pieces.

With all this said, it now appears that the ICAO is prepared to issue an edict to its member airlines to add Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) to the list of hazardous materials that are banned from checked luggage.   

We should see this change take effect in the next few weeks since no one is opposing the FAA’s findings or the recommendation to ban laptops in checked bags.