The Transportation Department's ban on the Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 could be leaving some users in a lurch if they try to bring the phone on any flight going to or from any part of the United States. To help those folks, Samsung is setting up pop-up exchange booths at airports to offer customers another Samsung phone in exchange for their faulty Notes.
In a statement, Samsung said booths in the United States will be at “some of the most frequently visited airports around the country,” but it did not provide a full list of airports. San Francisco International Airport seems to be one of them as Twitter users have reported seeing booths there.
When asked, the company did not say whether the Samsung phones received from the airport kiosks could then be swapped for another phone once you arrive at your destination. So if you weren't sure whether you wanted a Samsung phone in exchange for your Note, this may not be the best option for you.
Even Samsung advises that it is best to exchange your phone before you get to an airport, if possible. That way, you won't have to add this hassle to the other hassles of modern-day air travel. Airports are not exactly the calmest places, so they probably are not the best locations for making a smartphone-purchasing decision — particularly when your alternative is having no smartphone at all.
All Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users can ask for a refund or a new smartphone (users will pay any price difference) under the terms of the recall. Those that pick another Samsung phone are eligible for a $100 bill credit; those that pick another device, such as Apple's iPhone 7, are granted a $25 bill credit.
It's not clear how many people are caught short by this flight ban. The order officially went into effect Saturday, Oct. 15, just a day after being announced. Before that, users were told to shut off the phones and not use them during flights. So if someone left on a long weekend trip Friday morning — thinking they could keep their phone with them as long as it was turned off — they will now find it impossible to bring their smartphone back with them.
The ban is absolute: You cannot board with the Note 7, even if it's turned off. You definitely cannot check it. You cannot ship it by air. The only real option, if you want to board your flight, is to get rid of the phone.
And you thought having to throw away a mostly full bottle of water in a security line amnesty box was a waste.