The Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), have officially issued an emergency order to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from air transportation in the U.S., deeming the devices “forbidden hazardous material.”
According to the announcement, consumers who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device may not transport the device on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the U.S. as of noon on Saturday, Oct. 15.
“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “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.”
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Passengers who attempt to travel by air with their devices, can have the phones confiscated and the passengers could face fines, according to the notice.
Additionally, if a crew member notices a passenger with a Note 7, they must instruct the traveler to power off the device, not use or charge it. The device must also be kept on the person and not in an overhead storage bin.
Samsung said Friday that it, along with carriers, is working to communicate the DOT’s new order to customers.
“We have encouraged airlines to issue similar communications directly to their passengers,” the company said in a statement. “Any Galaxy Note 7 owner should visit their carrier and retail store to participate in the U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program now. We realize this is an inconvenience but your safety has to remain our top priority.”
Back in September, aviation regulators ordered passengers and airlines to power off all Note 7s that were brought on board, and asked them to not charging the devices in air.
Soon after, passengers reported that airlines had been either checking their phones or verbally instructing them to power-down the phones.
Still, that didn’t put an end to the issues. The most recent incident occurred last week when a Southwest Airlines flight had to be evacuated when a replacement Note 7 began to spew smoke and fire.
The ban comes on the heels of some airlines beginning to use “fire containment bags” to stow the phones in flight.
The bags are bright red, made of fire-resistant materials, and are designed to hold not just phones but laptops or tablets as well. They close with velcro and heavy zippers, and can withstand temperatures up to 3,200° F (1760° C). So far, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and Delta have started using the bags.
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