Airlines have not allowed passengers to operate or charge their Note 7 phones for weeks, as many of the smartphone's users reported that the devices were catching fire and, in some cases, exploding. A smoking Galaxy Note 7 forced a Southwest Airlines flight to evacuate earlier this month. A formal recall followed, and Samsung has since discontinued the phone and offered full refunds or exchanges to anyone who still has the Note 7.
But if there are any air travelers who — for whatever reason — haven't made the switch yet, they'll have to be smartphone-free starting this weekend.
“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 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.”
The Transportation Department said that anyone who tries to take the smartphone on a plane opens themselves up to the risk of having the phone confiscated, as well as fines and “criminal prosecution.”
The release also says that passengers found with the phone may be removed from their flights.
The ban also applies to having the phones shipped as air cargo — in fact, the release specified that Samsung has had to get a special permit from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to even ship the units by ground.
Samsung said that it is working with the Department of Transportation to get word of the ban out to all customers.
“We have encouraged airlines to issue similar communications directly to their passengers,” the firm said in a statement. “Any Galaxy Note7 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.”