Airlines Ban Hoverboards Due To Dangerous Lithium-Ion Batteries

Hoverboards (self-balancing electric scooters) have been everywhere in the news lately. There have been stories of people’s homes being burned to the ground because a charging hoverboard caught fire. Videos of hoverboards spontaneously exploding outdoors are going viral. Many online and brick-and-mortar stores have now pulled certain brands off of shelves to protect their customers. And now, all major American airlines have banned hoverboards out of fear that the devices might explode during transit. Even the United States Postal Service (USPS) has mandated that hoverboards only be shipped via ground transport. This latest development underscores just how dangerous these devices can be.


American, Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue have all banned hoverboards from their flights. And now, Southwest has become the last of the major U.S. airlines to forbid passengers from bringing hoverboards on board. Passengers are not permitted to pack these dangerous devices in either their checked luggage or their carry-on bags.


At this time, it remains unclear why the personal transport devices are catching fire.

According to Delta Airlines, “poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries” are to blame. These types of batteries have long been a source of concern for airlines. Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire if there is a defect in a product’s surrounding structure, if the battery sustains damage, or if there is a short-circuit. The fire can spread extremely quickly when large numbers of batteries are packed together. From 2005 to 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigated a similar issue with computers. The issue was resolved when computer manufacturers devised a safe venting and shut off mechanism. Many models had to be recalled as a result of CPSC’s investigation.


Executives from two of the major hoverboard brands, IO Hawk and PhunkeeDuck, told TIME Magazine that they understand why the airlines have taken such drastic measures. IO Hawk and PhunkeeDuck maintain that their products are safe, but claim that cheap knockoff brands are catching fire because of poor quality materials and a lack of safety testing. According to Maxx Yellin, co-founder of PhunkeeDuck, factories that are not equipped to produce hoverboards are making them as cheaply and quickly as they can to cash in on the trend. According to Yellin, this results in shortcuts in production, use of weaker motors, unreliable gyroscopes and batteries, improperly designed motherboards, and a total lack of safety testing. An IO Hawk or PhunkeeDuck hoverboard retails for $1,500 to $2,000. Other brands can sell for as low as $250.


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The experienced New Jersey product liability lawyers at Shebell & Shebell have over eighty years combined experience handling cases involving personal injuries caused by defective products. Our goal is to get you maximum compensation for our clients. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective hoverboard, call us at 732-532-2011 or contact us online.