Samsung Note 7 added to the No-Fly list


Did the US Department of Transportation just drop the bottom out of the market for $1850 fire containment kits being purchased by airlines?

Late this afternoon the agency issued and emergency order banning Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 from transport on any aircraft in the USA, whether powered on or off, whether carried in the cabin or in checked baggage. Bloomberg was among the first reporting the news.

“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident in flight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”

Airlines have struggled in recent weeks facing the increased risk that a device might catch fire on board a flight. Samsung agreed to replace the defective devices but a supposedly safe model caught fire on a Southwest Airlines plane last week raising concern that the redesign was insufficient to solve the problem. The company announced late last Friday that is was halting production of the model and extending the recall to all versions of the device.

Delta Air Lines announced this week that it was adding the fire containment bags to all its aircraft. It is one of several airlines stepping up containment options as the risk of such incidents increases, either because of faulty manufacturing or because a device is caught in the mechanics of a seat, at risk of the battery being crushed and then catching fire. And I was on a flight when the phone getting eaten by the seat happened; it was not a particularly comforting experience knowing that the fire risk was so significant.

Obviously enforcement of the new rule is challenging and there are apparently some Note 7 owners who believe their devices are immune to the problems and plan to skip the recall because they like them. That is irresponsible and dangerous, but it turns out that some days you cannot really fix stupid.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

5 Comments

  1. My guess is that airlines may still buy the bags.

    Reason: starting to get reports, though proprionately far fewer, regarding smoldering or burning from other smartphones, too. including iPhone 7 plus, 7, and 6 plus.

    In fact, I had been a tad fearful that some zealous regulator would want to ban ALL phones, which of course would be a bummer. If tge carriers have the bags, maybe the feds would be less likely to go THAT far.

    1. No doubt that the bags will still be on board at this point; choosing to not do so is too high a liability risk compared to the cost of acquiring the bags.

      As for banning all phones/tablets, zero chance of that happening.

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