FAA's Samsung Galaxy Note7 Flight Ban Complicates Life for Travelers

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2016-10-17 Print this article Print

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK that the FAA has ordered similar bans in the past regarding hazardous cargo, including a move in February when the agency banned air shipments of lithium batteries due to potential fire concerns.

"What makes the Note7 especially problematic is the degree to which users may be at fault," said King. "Samsung has stated that the phones should not be overcharged but it's impossible to say which Note7 owners are complying with those guidelines. Overall, an outright ban is the most sensible approach."

Rob Enderle, principal of Enderle Group, called the FAA ban "really bad for the Samsung brand because airline employees may simply take you out of line for having any Samsung phone until they can check it. You sure don't want to use one for your boarding pass."

The impact of such concerns could be huge, said Enderle. "In effect, for every passenger, for every flight they'll hear the not-so-subtle message, 'don't buy Samsung,' which should bleed from phones to other branded products.  It will take years to overcome this kind of repetitive reinforcement."

Under the FAA Note7 ban, "passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident," the agency stated. "Anyone violating the ban may be subject to criminal prosecution in addition to fines."

Note7 owners should contact Samsung or their wireless carrier immediately to obtain information about how to return their phones and arrange for a refund or a replacement phone. More information is available at here or by calling Samsung at (844) 365-6197.

If an airline representative observes that a passenger is in possession of a Samsung Note7 device prior to boarding an aircraft, the air carrier "must deny boarding to the passenger unless and until the passenger divests themselves and their carry-on and checked baggage of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 device," the FAA order states. "Passengers absolutely should not pack the phones in their checked luggage."

If a flight crew member identifies that a passenger is in possession of a 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 order continues.

"The Samsung Galaxy Note7 device is considered a forbidden hazardous material under the Federal Hazardous Material Regulations, 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," the order states.

"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," Elliot F. Kaye, the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement. "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."

Samsung is already reporting earnings consequences due to the Note7 debacle. Last week, the company reported that it expects to see a "negative impact" on its operating profits of approximately $3.1 billion (about 3.5 trillion Korean Won, or KRW), combined, for the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Those losses are on top of the $2.6 billion charge the company had estimated earlier. The lower profits in the next two quarters are expected to be about 2.5 trillion KRW in the fourth quarter of 2016 and about 1 trillion KRW in the first quarter of 2017, due to the Note7 recall, the company stated.


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