If you travel often and own a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device, you’re out of luck. Passengers and flight crews will be banned from bringing the smartphone on airline flights under an emergency order issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in response to reports of the phones catching fire.
Going into effect on October 22, the order states the phones may not be carried on board or packed in checked bags on flights to and from the United States or within the country, and they cannot be shipped as air cargo. Any passengers caught attempting to travel with the phones will have them confiscated and may face fines.
After recalling more than 2.5 million of the smartphones due to a battery manufacturing error, Samsung discontinued the product, less than two months after its launch. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been nearly 100 reports of batteries in the Note 7 model overheating in the U.S. Previously, the Federal Aviation Administration warned passengers not to pack the phones in their luggage and to power them off while in-flight.
“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”
In a recently released statement, Samsung said it’s working with the department to make customers aware of the ban. The South Korean company also urged Note 7 customers to get a refund or exchange their phones by visiting their phone service provider or retail store.
For those unaware of the ban who come to the airport with the fire-prone phone, Samsung has a solution. The company is setting up exchange stations at major airports to swap customers’ Note 7s before they take to the skies. While Samsung announced these “customer service points” at “high-traffic terminals” inside Australian airports, booths have also popped up at an airport in South Korea and at the San Francisco International Airport. Samsung representatives at these stations will transfer data from your Galaxy Note 7 to another device, so you won’t lose any of your personal information stored on the phone.
Compared to many types of batteries, rechargeable lithium batteries are more susceptible to overheating if they’re exposed to high temperatures, are damaged, or have manufacturing flaws. Once overheating starts, it can lead to thermal runaway, which causes temperatures to escalate to very high levels. In most cases, water can extinguish the flames, but it doesn’t always halt the thermal runaway. Oftentimes, flames will reappear after being quenched.
For additional information on returning your Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, call 1-800-SAMSUNG or visit the company’s website.
For more explosive batteries news, view our Special Report.
By Nicole DiGiose