Fire on JetBlue flight underscores concerns about possible laptop ban expansion

MIAMI -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating a laptop battery fire that erupted aboard a JetBlue flight.

It was scary moments for the 158 people on board JetBlue flight 915. While flying between New York and San Francisco Tuesday night, passengers noticed smoke coming from a carry-on bag. Inside was a laptop with an overheating lithium-ion battery. 

"We're at 35,000 feet and all of a sudden we hear an announcement and we look back at row 25," said passenger Alan Honnibal.

"You could see smoke and smell it," Kailey Honnibal added. 

Honnibal took a picture of what appears to be scorch marks on the plane's carpet from the smoldering laptop. 


Kailey Honnibal took a picture of what appears to be scorch marks on the plane's carpet from the smoldering laptop.

CBS News/Kailey Honnibal

The FAA says 12 fire-related incidents involving lithium-ion batteries have occurred on flights this year. The latest incident underscores growing concerns about a possible expansion banning large electronic devices in the cabin. 

Currently, those devices must be checked on flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Some experts worry storing those batteries in cargo hold could lead to fires burning unchecked. 

"Frankly, the safety community would find that a greater risk than potentially even terrorism," former NTSB Chair Mark Rosenker said. "We do run a very serious risk of some potential of a fire that we can't contain and thereby have the serious consequences of potentially losing an aircraft."

The Department of Homeland Security is studying the fire danger question and has yet to make a decision on extending the laptop ban. 

No injuries were reported, but the FAA is investigating Tuesday night's fire. 

  • Kris Van Cleave

    Kris Van Cleave was appointed CBS News Transportation Correspondent in September 2015 and is based in Washington, D.C.