Top U.S. airlines ban hoverboards due to fire risk

Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:43pm EST
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By Victoria Bryan and Jeffrey Dastin

GENEVA/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hoverboards may be on many people's Christmas lists but they present a conundrum for airlines, which are mulling the best way to transport the popular devices that could present a fire risk.

The three largest U.S. airlines, American Airlines Group Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc, each said Thursday they are banning hoverboards starting this week in carry-on and checked baggage out of safety considerations.

American spokesman Casey Norton cited an ongoing investigation into hoverboards by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The federal agency is looking into at least 10 reports of hoverboard fires in nine states, said spokeswoman Patty Davis. The changes in carriers' baggage policy also coincided with comments from the top global airline association Thursday that addressed hoverboard hazards.

Hoverboards do not in fact hover, but are two-wheeled devices also known as self-balancing scooters or swegways. They have prompted a host of warnings from authorities, and not just because people may fall off them.

Earlier this year, police in Britain warned people it was illegal to ride the devices on both public roads and pavements, meaning people must stick to their own private land to try them.

Britain's National Trading Standards said this month 88 percent of 17,000 self-balancing scooters examined at UK entry points were deemed to be unsafe, with an increased risk of overheating, exploding or catching fire.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recommended that self-balancing scooters be carried only in cabin baggage, but it remains up to each airline to decide their exact policy.   Continued...

A delegate of the 68th International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting is pictured through an IATA logo in Beijing June 11, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee