The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has banned all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones from airplanes. The DOT announced the ban along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The ban became effective on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at Noon EDT.
The ban resulted from both the permanent stoppage of sales of the phone by Samsung, and the recall of the phone. The DOT announcement also stated:
"The Samsung Galaxy Note7 device is considered a forbidden hazardous material under the Federal Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-185), which forbid airline passengers or crew from traveling with lithium cells or batteries or portable electronic devices that are likely to generate a dangerous evolution of heat. PHMSA has issued a special permit to Samsung to facilitate commercial shipment of the recalled devices by ground transportation."
The ban includes flights within the United States, and flights to/from the United States from other countries. Travelers cannot board planes with the phones, nor pack the phones in their carry-on luggage, nor pack the phones in their checked luggage. Passengers attempting to board planes with these phones will be denied boarding. Passengers attempting to avoid detection by packing these phones in their checked luggage will be subject to criminal prosecution.
The DOT advised passengers already traveling with Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones to immediately contact either Samsung or their wireless provider to obtain replacement phones. The DOT announcement also stated:
"If a flight crew member identifies that a passenger is in possession of a Samsung Galaxy Note7 device while the aircraft is in flight, the crew member must instruct the passenger to power off the device, not use or charge the device while aboard the aircraft, protect the device from accidental activation, including disabling any features that may turn on the device, such as alarm clocks, and keep the device on their person and not in the overhead compartment, seat back pocket, nor in any carry-on baggage, for the duration of the flight."
The ban also applies to U.S. Postal Mail shipments, so Galaxy Note7 owners returning their devices for replacements should arrange for ground deliveries. While the warnings to Galaxy Note7 owners seems clear, some confusion has still resulted. Both Samsung and wireless providers seem unprepared to handle phone replacements given the ban. Gizmodo reported:
"We asked our readers how [the ban] was working out around the globe and from the replies we’ve received, it’s safe to say that, so far, this sucks..."
Excerpts of horror stories from Gizmodo readers:
"At the security checkpoint as a husband/partner was saying goodbye to his wife/partner, she gave her phone to him because she thought she couldn’t take it on the plane. It was a Galaxy S5 or S6, I couldn’t really tell, but definitely not a Note. So lots of confusion."
"I have been in Asia for a few weeks and head back to the US early tomorrow. I called AT&T and Samsung (on several occasions) inquiring about what to do with my phone now that there is a ban. Yesterday [10/16/16] when I called, AT&T sent me over to Samsung (and after a long hold time) I was told by a rep that I could smuggle the phone back in a sock! When I suggested that wasn’t a good idea and that I wouldn’t do that, he said someone from management would contact me. It’s been more than 24 hours and I haven’t heard from them..."
"So I flew from California to Israel for vacation a week ago, kept my Note 7 powered down in my pocket while on United Airlines on the way. I plan to fly back to California later this week — but now what? There’s no way I can think of to get my phone from Israel to my home in California. I can’t bring it aboard the plane since it’s completely banned now, powered down or not, and apparently it’s also illegal now to ship it by cargo plane. If I can’t get it home, how am I going to turn it in for a rebate or for a new phone? And if I can’t bring it back with me, how do I safely trash it here in Israel?"
You can read more horror stories at the Gizmodo site. If you have a Galaxy Note7 phone, what was your experience while flying? What was your experience getting a replacement phone?