Last week, KLM flight attendants put out a fire in an overhead compartment 'caused by a lithium-ion battery in passenger's hand luggage' on flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok.
Mobile phones, laptops and tablet computers are powered by lithium batteries.
A KLM spokesperson said the incident occurred when the Boeing 777 carrying 321 passengers plus crew was taxiing to its gate at Bangkok International Airport after flying in from Amsterdam.
A Lithium battery fire example in a laptop at LAX
In response, last week Boeing and other aircraft makers pressed for a ban on bulk lithium battery shipments on passenger planes, saying the threat of fires is 'an unacceptable risk'.
What happens if the fire starts in the luggage compartment?
New research shows that lithium batteries can explode and burn even more violently than previously thought, raising questions about their use and shipment on passenger airplanes.
A United Parcel Service cargo plane was carrying 81,000 lithium batteries when it caught fire and crashed after taking off from Dubai on Sept. 3, 2010.
Malaysian Airlines flight 370 was carrying a 440 pounds of lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold when it vanished over the South China Sea.
For years FlyersRights challenged the safety of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner over its lithium-ion batteries that is used to run its electrical system, and disputed the FAA's policy of delegating safety and regulatory authority to Boeing.
Cockpit Smoke Reported An Average Of Four Times A Month
From 2000 to 2013, more than 650 incidents of smoke in the cockpit have been reported to the FAA, according to the USA Today.
Over 200 emergency landings a year in the US are typically due to smoke or fire. A December 2014 DOT Advisory Circular (AC) about in-flight fires indirectly reveals the alarming lack of defense against airliner fires.
FlyersRights president Paul Hudson said, "After reading this, I cannot understand how the FAA could possibly permit two-engine planes like the Boeing 787 with fire prone lithium ion batteries to fly up to 5 1/2 hours from the nearest landing zone. This AC points out that fires not discovered and extinguished can become uncontrollable within 6-10 minutes and destroy an aircraft with 20 minutes."
"The biggest danger of the long haul over ocean flights that are up to 5 hours from the nearest landing zone is that their emergency landing defense in case of fire is increasingly impractical," Hudson said.
Also, the newer commercial airliners, Airbus 360 or 380 and Boeing 787 have order of magnitude increases in electrical power over older aircraft.
Allowing passengers to use laptops and other electronic devices and soon to provide plug in recharge outlets at seats adds hundreds of new potential sources of overheating, fire and smoke, which may increase the risks by 10 to several hundred fold.
To date, the FAA has ignored the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations and its own prior safety criteria regarding lithium-ion batteries on airliners.
Airlines:"What fuel surcharges?"
Remember the hornet's nest we public advocates stirred up a few months back when we called for an end to the airlines' phony 'fuel surcharge'?
Even Senator Charles Schumer jumped into the fray, demanding a federal probe into airline prices.
A rule change from the DOT tried to fix that problem by requiring airlines to link fuel costs to the actual price of oil, and be transparent about costs that make up the fares.
FlyersRights hasn't heard anything about fuel upcharges since then, so we checked in with the airlines to see if these phony fees have been eliminated.
Well, the clever airlines have quietly removed "fuel surcharge" from their vocabulary, but replaced it with "airline fees"and "carrier-imposed charges".
By avoiding the word "fuel," and saying these are fees the airlines themselves (and not the government) are tacking on, the airlines skillfully duck the new DOT rules.
The Whole Pricing Equation Is Fraudulent
As the Wall St. Journal's Scott McCartney reported, fuel surcharges were never calculated based on the cost of fuel.
Fuel is an airlines' biggest operating cost. So if that is true, then the assertion the surcharges do not factor in the cost of fuel is deceptive.
Who isn't tired of "carrier imposed charges" by airlines, or mandatory "resort fees" by resorts and junk fees by car rental companies?
The big US carriers have become very profitable enterprises by obfuscating the true cost of what they're selling, and changing the terminology to escape regulations.
We are seeing a demonstration of what most consumers already know: Once a fee goes on, it never comes off. When these surcharges first popped up, airlines defended them by insisting that fuel is their biggest cost. Now airlines are protecting their surcharges by saying other costs have gone up.
Paul Hudson, FlyersRights president, believes that a complaint filed with DOT is appropriate, "To fine airlines for using a deceptive practice of fuel surcharges to raise fares in violation of DOT guidelines and to evade excise taxes."
He adds, "Only competition is likely to lower air fares. DOT can pressure airlines but this would require, in my opinion, jaw-boning by the DOT Secretary or President Obama."
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.