Smoking Credit Card Reader Forces Plane's Emergency Landing

PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet lands as an Alaska Air Boeing 737 jet prepares to take off at Los Angeles International Airport on April 5, 2011.Getty Images
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet lands as an Alaska Air Boeing 737 jet prepares to take off at Los Angeles International Airport on April 5, 2011.

An Alaska Air flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Buffalo, N.Y., today after a flight attendant’s credit card machine started smoking.

According to Alaska Air rep Nancy Trott, the device “was not on fire” but flight attendants did use a fire extinguisher to get rid of the smoke.

The crew said it “looked like the battery was melting,” Trott told ABC News.

Buffalo Airport Public Information Officer Douglas Hartmayer said the "small fire" had been extinguished by the time the plane landed. The crew told firefighters that the device was sitting on a counter when they realized it was on fire. They then dropped it into a trash can and doused it with the extinguisher.

The credit card reader was equipped with a small lithium ion battery, similar to the type of battery that powers a watch or cellphone, according to the airline. Because lithium ion batteries have been known to spark fires, the FAA wants to limit large quantities of these batteries on aircraft.

Alaska Air is removing the devices for inspection and reverting back to the airline's old card reader.

"We believe this to be a very isolated incident," the manufacturer of the card reader, GuestLogix Inc., told ABC today. "However in an abundance of caution we have recalled all the devices that are the same model as the one on Alaska Airlines."

No one was injured, and the Boeing B737, on its way from Newark, N.J., to Seattle with nearly 200 passengers on board, landed safely at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport around 8:40 a.m. ET.

The FAA is investigating the incident.