A Wizz Air Airbus flight from Keflavík International Airport to Poland was forced to turn around and land again shortly after takeoff, when smoke began to pour out of the overhead luggage compartment of the cabin, Fréttablaðið reports. The cause: a poorly packed e-cigarette.
This incident occurred in September of last year. According to an investigation of the incident, when the overhead compartment was opened to find the cause of the smoke, witnesses saw a backpack in the cargo space that was visibly on fire. The backpack was pulled out of the compartment and put in the aisle of the plane, while someone else ran off to get a fire extinguisher.
On closer examination, it was apparent that an e-cigarette was causing the blaze. It was pulled out of the backpack’s side pocket, and when water was poured on it, it naturally exploded and spread more flames. At this point, the pilot told passengers that they were flying the plane back to Keflavík.
While the blaze was quickly extinguished, further investigations showed that the cause was not defective design of the e-cigarette itself; rather, the device was packed into the backpack—and the backpack was in turn stowed in such a way—that the ignition button of the device was being continuously depressed. This button, only met to be held down for a couple seconds at a time, heats the coil within the device which warms the vaping liquid. The subsequent overheating is what led to the blaze.
E-cigarettes are generally prohibited from carry-on luggage for reasons such as this. For maximum safety, if the device cannot be left at home, it must be carried on the passenger’s person instead.