Monthly Archives: November 2019

Will my Surface Pro 4 explode on an airplane?

Ok .. this might be slightly melodramatic – but I was faced with this question when flying back with British Airways from Tenerife yesterday evening.

We were about 2 hours into the flight, and my 5 year old son was knackered and reverted back to his 3-year-old inner self and asked to watch Peppa Pig (this is a rite of passage for UK parents) – something I didn’t pre-load onto his tablet, but I did have on my Surface (for my 16 month old daughter).

But imagine my *surprise* when I pulled my Surface out of the overhead locker to find the screen bulging out so badly I could barely engage the hinge.

“what does f$%k mean Daddy?”



“erm .. nothing .. I just need to go speak to someone”

I had read numerous reports of exploding batteries – particularly at altitude – so I was worried .. VERY worried.

Luckily I DID know about this problem, and took it directly (and very discretely) to the flight crew.

I expected to have to spend a good 5 minutes explaining why this was a problem but to my (pleasant) surprise they seemed to be well drilled and knew exactly about this problem.

They immediately called up the senior cabin crew member who came armed with a large metal container.

He quickly powered off the device (something I was kicking myself for not doing!) .. checked it for any signs of heat (it was quite cold) .. and then placed it inside the metal canister. I must say I was extremely impressed with how quickly and calmly the BA cabin crew dealt with this.

They told me they were going to check the temperature every 10 minutes, and if it showed any signs of heating up they would fill said canister with cold water. I was of course totally fine with this – my data was all backed up to OneDrive .. plus after I’d thought about it I didn’t really want my laptop exploding, especially on an aircraft full of people.

Luckily nothing happened and the Surface was returned, along with a written incident report (for which I needed to confirm contact details).


So as well as an interesting “anything interesting happen on the flight back?” story for the pub, I hope this helps to serve as a reminder to anyone out there travelling with electronics.

If you EVER see your tablet / laptop / phone / device bulging out like that on an aircraft then please take it to the cabin crew immediately. This story ended happily, but this could very easily have gone VERY VERY wrong …

Me? I’m just glad my son wanted to watch Peppa Pig.