There are now two Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigations into incidents on board Qantas flights involving reports of smartphones being crushed by reclining Business Class seats on trans-pacific flights.

Widespread reports in media today of an ATSB investigation into an “in-flight fire involving a Boeing 747 near Los Angeles International Airport” on June 21.

The reports are that a smartphone was crushed and caused a small fire on-board the plane when the Business Class seat it’s owner was sitting in was reclined – with the smartphone having fallen down behind the seat, the phone was crushed and that caused it to either catch fire or certainly create some degree of concern on-board.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 7.48.11 PM

EFTM can reveal that another ATSB investigation was already underway into a remarkably similar incident on May 16.

In this case there was smoke detected on-board an Airbus A380 en route to Dallas Fort Worth Airport in the USA.  The plane was 3,000km out from Dallas when an acrid smoke was detected in Business Class.


The same explanation is seemingly at play here.

A passenger was unaware their smartphone had fallen down behind or within the chair mechanism, and when reclined it crushed the phone and caused the damage and small fire/smoke.

Here’s the phone in question after it was removed from the seat which had to be dismantled to retrieve the phone and uncover it as the cause.


Having been lucky enough to travel Business Class on many international airlines, I can say that it’s remarkable this hasn’t happened more often.  I’ve dropped phones behind seats in United Airlines and have witnessed others do likewise.

ATSB investigations are underway into both incidents, and reports will be issued in a few months – in the meantime, we would anticipate Qantas issuing stern and very direct one to one warnings to Business Class passengers until some prevention can be put in place.