Australian, Asian airlines enforce total Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ban

Australian airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia have enforced a total ban of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on all flights — the ban will include the pair’s low-cost airlines, Jetstar and Tigerair Australia.

The airlines cited the potential fire risk as the reason for the ban, which came into effect from Sunday, October 16.

Other airlines that issued a total ban on the handset over the weekend include Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express, AirAsia, Etihad Airways, and Emirates.

In Europe, airlines enforcing a complete ban include Berlin Air, Finnair, and Alitalia.

It means that customers will no longer be able to fly with the device, even if it is switched off or packed in checked or carry-on luggage.

In Virgin’s statement issued on Friday, Virgin “strongly advised” passengers not to bring Note 7 devices to an airport.

At Sydney Airport on Monday morning, the ban was reportedly upheld by handmade signs and officials telling passengers to make themselves known if they had a Galaxy Note 7 device on them. A spokesperson told ZDNet that Samsung has booths set up to assist passengers before they travel.

“This is an airline policy implemented by individual airlines, therefore airport operations are unaffected,” they said.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority hasn’t enforced a blanket ban in the country, but is monitoring the situation. Some airlines began taking preventative measures against exploding batteries by rolling out flameproof bags.

The US Department of Transportation banned the Note 7 on US flights beginning Saturday.

“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. “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.”

Passengers in the US who evade the ban are now punishable by federal law.

Australian airlines previously banned customers from turning on or charging the handset when the original batch was recalled in September due to exploding batteries. The FAA later enforced an official ban.

Samsung, after identifying the faulty battery as the problem, changed the battery supplier for the new batch of devices, which had green battery indicators instead of white to differentiate from the old models. Airlines subsequently allowed these new handsets aboard their flights.

But after fresh reports of explosions earlier this month, Samsung suspended production of the Galaxy Note 7 and last week pulled the plug on the handset entirely. It is currently undergoing a recall of 2.5 million Note 7 devices.

The company is also offering an exchange program for a Galaxy 7 or 7 Edge, with the addition of a refund covering the price difference. Alternatively, owners can request a full refund.

The company shipped a fireproof box for customers to return their handsets, although some couriers are refusing to carry them.

Because of the recall, Samsung expects a profit cut of around $5.3 billion until Q1 2017.

Samsung and the South Korean government have launched separate investigations into the exploding Note 7s.

With AAP

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