Delta passenger’s device overheats on plane on tarmac

A passenger's electronic device overheated on a Delta Air Lines plane on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Wednesday evening, according to the carrier.

The Delta flight from San Antonio was waiting for a gate at the Atlanta airport when a first class passenger's device started emitting smoke. Flight attendants put the device into a fire containment bag, according to Delta.

“Flight attendants acted quickly to place an overheating electronic device in an onboard containment bag, per procedure,” Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said.

With the plane stopped on the tarmac, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department responded to the incident and was outside the plane when the captain decided to throw the containment bag with the device out the cockpit window to the fire department, Delta said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has recorded at least 241 incidents of lithium batteries overheating or emitting smoke on flights.

On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a rule to prohibit the shipment of lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger planes.

But that wouldn’t prevent passengers from bringing lithium ion batteries into the cabin.

Delta stocks its planes with containment bags and specially-designed gloves to handle devices that overheat or have "thermal runaway" incidents, and only allows spare batteries in carry-on bags.

The airline also advises passengers whose phones slip between seats on the airplane or into a crevice in the seat to contact a crew member instead of trying to retrieve it themselves. That’s because of the risk that reclining or moving the seat could crush the device’s battery and cause it to overheat and catch fire.