Business travelers who try to take their recalled Galaxy Note7 phone on a plane may face fines and criminal prosecution. The US Department of Transportation, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, recently issued an emergency order banning all Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones from air transportation in the US—placing the devices in the same "hazardous materials" category alongside fireworks and lighter fluid.
Passengers are not allowed to fly with the device in hand, in their carry-on luggage, or in a checked bag. The ban applies to all flights to, from, or within the US, according to a press release.
Passengers who try to take their Note7 on a plane will be denied boarding, according to the Department of Transportation. Anyone who violates the ban by packing their phone away "may be subject to criminal prosecution in addition to fines."
"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 in the press release. "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."
Several airlines also announced a ban on Galaxy Note7s this weekend, ZDNet reported, including Australian airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia, European airlines Berlin Air, Finnair, and Alitalia, as well as Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express, AirAsia, Etihad Airways, and Emirates.
This news follows last week's announcement that the UK's Royal Mail will not ship the phones at all. Meanwhile, in the US, FedEx and UPS will return them so long as they are shipped via ground transportation only, and packed in special boxes designed for faulty batteries.
The flight ban is just the latest in the disastrous Galaxy Note7 saga. In September, just weeks after the phone launched, Samsung and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a Galaxy Note7 recall after several reports of exploding batteries came to light. But users reported that the replacement phones suffered from the same battery overheating problems.
Last week, Samsung halted production and sales of the Galaxy Note7, and issued a second, expanded recall on all original and replacement Note7 phones. The company also increased their original incentive of a $25 credit for returning the phone to $100.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung tested the Note7's batteries at an in-house lab—the only smartphone manufacturer to do so. Samsung and the South Korean government have launched their own investigations into the overheating battery issue, according to Yonhap News Agency.
"The fire hazard with the original Note7 and with the replacement Note7 is simply too great for anyone to risk it and not respond to this official recall," said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye in the press release. "I would like to remind consumers once again to take advantage of the remedies offered, including a full refund. It's the right thing to do and the safest thing to do."
Customers who bought a Note7 from a retailer or carrier can return the phones there. Those who bought from Samsung directly must follow a five-step process involving three different types of boxes and safety gloves.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- On Friday, the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an emergency order banning all Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones from air transportation in the US.
- Travelers cannot bring the phones in hand, in their carry on bags, or in a checked bag. Those who violate the ban could face fines or criminal charges.
- The flight ban comes a week after Samsung halted production and sales of the Galaxy Note7 phones, and issued a second recall for all original and replacement phones.
- US government officially recalls Samsung Galaxy Note7 over battery concerns (TechRepublic)
- Samsung cuts profit forecast by $2.3 billion after Galaxy Note 7 saga(ZDNet)
- Galaxy Note 7, RIP. Samsung, you've got to rebuild the trust (CNET)
- Who's benefitting from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 meltdown? (ZDNet)
- Samsung's crazy return kit for the Galaxy Note 7 may scare you (CNET)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.