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United 767 diverts to Ireland after laptop becomes stuck under business class seat 

A United Airlines flight from Zurich in Switzerland heading to Chicago on May 19, 2024, had to make an emergency overweight landing in Shannon, Ireland after a business class passenger’s laptop became stuck beneath the mechanism of their seat. 

According to the Aviation Herald, the flight in question (UA12) was being operated by one of the carrier’s 37-strong fleet of Boeing 767-300ERs and had 150 passengers onboard at the time of the incident.  

The aircraft, registered as N663UA, departed from Zurich Airport’s runway 16 at 10:08 local time. The flight initially routed northwards over Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the North Sea. Having crossed southern England, Wales, the Irish Sea, and the Republic of Ireland, the aircraft had reached its cruising altitude of 34,000ft and began its oceanic crossing toward the US.  

Approximately three hours into the flight, with the aircraft 500 miles northeast of the Irish mainland, the crew requested an emergency diversion to Shannon Airport (SNN) on the west coast of Ireland. The flight crew told air traffic controllers that a passenger had managed to get their laptop stuck beneath a seat and that as a safety precaution, the flight needed to divert so that the laptop could be freed up due to the fire risk posed by the device’s lithium-ion battery. 

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According to local media reports, the cabin crew had earlier reported the issue to the pilots flying UA12, but despite further efforts, they had been unable to release the laptop from beneath the seat. The flight crew reported to ATC that the aircraft would be making an overweight landing at Shannon, due to the urgency to get on the ground leaving insufficient time to burn off excess fuel. 

Around four hours 30 minutes after first departing Zurich, the flight approached Shannon Airport (SNN) where it made a safe landing at 13:43 local time – about 90 minutes after the pilots’ decision to divert. Due to the overweight landing, the airport’s Fire and Rescue Service was on standby, and once the aircraft was safely on the ground, they escorted the plane from the runway to its parking stand. 


According to United, engineers boarded the aircraft to retrieve the laptop, but their initial attempts were unsuccessful. Subsequently, airport ground workers removed cargo from the forward cargo hold and removed floor panels to retrieve the device.  

Having removed the recalcitrant laptop, UA12 was scheduled to depart Shannon at 14:40 to resume its flight to Chicago. However, with the crew forecast to go off duty hours during the onward journey, the flight was unable to continue and was subsequently canceled. All passengers were accommodated overnight in local hotels and are expected to be flown to their final destination on Monday, May 20, 2024. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for United said the flight diverted to Shannon to “address a potential safety risk caused by a laptop being stuck in an inaccessible location. We’re working quickly to get customers to their final destination.” 

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Lithium-ion battery fires can pose a threat to aircraft due to the risk of overheating which can cause smoke, sparks and ultimately fires, which can result in intense heat. Fires of this nature are also extremely difficult to extinguish, particularly on a plane, hence the need for UA12 to get safely on the ground as quickly as possible.   

In February 2023, four people were hospitalized after inhaling smoke when a lithium-ion battery pack overheated and burst into flames on a United Airlines flight from San Diego. 

The post United 767 diverts to Ireland after laptop becomes stuck under business class seat  appeared first on AeroTime.

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