AS Jet Diverts Due To Smoking Card Reader

Open Jaw

If the headline has you picturing a psychic reading tarot cards with a cigarette dangling from their mouth, that’s not it.

The smoking card reader that forced an EWR-SEA AS flight to divert to BUF was one of those battery operated credit card reading machines airlines used for all those now necessary inflight purchases.

AS17 was carrying 181 pax and 6 crew when a crew member noticed smoke coming out of a brand-new point-of-sale terminal in the rear galley. There were no visible flames, but a flight attendant took care of the matter by tossing the machine into a trash can and spraying it with a fire extinguisher.

The airline says the incident was caused by an overheated lithium battery. It says it has removed all of its new credit card reading machines for inspection. Does that mean free drinks for all? We suspect not.

The incident comes just 3 days after the Federal Aviation Administration backed a ban of bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries on passenger planes.

 "We believe the risk is immediate and urgent," FAA safety official Angela Stubblefield said at a public meeting on the matter.

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