16 October 2016

Blanket flight ban for the Samsung Note7, owners currently overseas not addressed

Banners for the Galaxy Note7, taken in Jurong Point on 16 October.
Banners for the Galaxy Note7, taken in Jurong Point on 16 October.
Airlines in Asia Pacific and the Middle East are following the lead of the US Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which issued an emergency order to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone devices from air transportation in the US on October 14 (October 15 Singapore time), with the ban taking effect on October 15 at noon eastern time (midnight October 16 Singapore time).

“We recognise that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” said US 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.”

“The fire hazard with the original Note7 and with the replacement Note7 is simply too great for anyone to risk it and not respond to this official recall,” said US Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye. “I would like to remind consumers once again to take advantage of the remedies offered, including a full refund.  It’s the right thing to do and the safest thing to do.”

The DOT has also considered the possibility of travellers evading the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage, stating that "anyone violating the ban may be subject to criminal prosecution in addition to fines", paving the way for civil aviation authorities and airlines in other countries to do the same.

Airlines in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East have begun announcing their own bans on the Samsung Note7 on flights, with many of the bans taking effect almost immediately. Etihad has just announced its ban on Facebook, saying:

"Following the global recall by Samsung of its Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, Etihad Airways is enforcing a total ban on these devices on board its aircraft, as some phones have been installed with faulty lithium batteries, which present a risk of combustion and fire.

"Guest(s) must not carry these smartphones in their checked-in baggage, in cabin baggage, or on their person.

"We apologise for the inconvenience caused. However, the safety and security of our passengers and staff is of the utmost importance."

Singapore Airlines has banned the Samsung Note7 on all its flights as of 16 October. A statement on its Facebook page reads:

"In view of the ban of the Galaxy Note 7 device by the US Department of Transportation, Singapore Airlines wishes to inform customers that the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone will be prohibited from being brought on board all our flights on person, in carry-on baggage or checked-in baggage with effect from 16 October, 0000hrs (Singapore Time).

"The smartphone also cannot be shipped as air cargo. Anyone found in possession of the device will be denied boarding."

According to comments on the Facebook post, some passengers had previously been assured that they would be allowed to board a return flight with the device.

Qantas had similarly allowed passengers to board with the device turned off, but also announced a total ban on the Note7 for both Qantas and Jetstar customers on the 15th. A statement on its Facebook page reads:

"Qantas and Jetstar customers are advised that the carriage of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices on-board is prohibited on ALL FLIGHTS effective 12:01am (AEDT) Sunday 16 October 2016. This is due to concerns regarding potential fire risk from the device's battery after a number of incidents worldwide, and follows a ban put in place by regulators overseas. The ban applies to devices being carried onto the aircraft, in carry on baggage as well as check-in luggage. Other Samsung devices are not affected.

"Note: this is updated advice from the previous Qantas Group policy, which allowed carriage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 provided it was turned off. This restriction has now been broadened to a total ban."

The unprecedented move follows reports that both the originally recalled and the replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices can generate heat and catch fire even when they are powered off. A statement on Samsung's Singapore site says that Samsung and carriers are working to communicate the US Department of Transportation' new order to ban all Galaxy Note7 devices in carry-on and checked baggage on flights.

"We have encouraged airlines to issue similar communications directly to their passengers. Any Galaxy Note7 owner who will be travelling by flight and require a courtesy device can obtain one from the Samsung Customer Service Centre at Westgate or the Samsung Experience Store at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 (departure/transit lounge). Consumers can contact us at 1800-SAMSUNG (7267864) for further assistance. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused and are working hard to expedite the exchange/refund programme in Singapore," Samsung Singapore said in the statement, which does not address the case of owners who were allowed to fly with the Note7, but who might not be able to return with it.

On October 14 Samsung Electronics Singapore announced details of the exchange and refund options for Galaxy Note7 customers and further said that Samsung has stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7, and has consequently decided to stop production.

"Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note7 or replacement Galaxy Note7 should power down and stop using the device immediately, and take advantage of the exchange and refund options, regardless if they purchased their original device from telecommunication operators, consumer electronics stores, authorised retailers, Samsung Official Store at Lazada.sg or Samsung Experience Stores," the company advised in a statement online.

"We are deeply sorry for the disappointment and frustration the Galaxy Note7 issue may have caused our customers and partners. Our focus now is to reduce further inconvenience to our customers who have trusted and waited for the Galaxy Note7," said Eugene Goh, Vice President, IT & Mobile, Samsung Electronics Singapore.

Galaxy Note7 customers can choose to either exchange their device for a Galaxy S7 edge 4G+, and receive cash and other benefits which will be confirmed shortly, or to receive a refund.

Beginning 26 October 2016, Samsung has asked Galaxy Note7 customers to visit www.samsung.com/sg/note7exchange to select their preference for exchange or refund, and provide their details for a free home delivery, offered regardless whether the Galaxy Note7 customer chooses an exchange or a refund.

Exchange customers can select their preferred colour for the Galaxy S7 edge 4G+, subject to availability. Samsung Concierge customers who opt for exchange will have their Samsung Concierge transferred to the Galaxy S7 edge 4G+ and those who opt for a refund on their Galaxy Note7 will have their Samsung Concierge cost of S$38 refunded.

Customers will need to provide the following details when logging in to arrange for an exchange or a refund.
1) Full name as per bank account
2) NRIC or FIN number
3) Mobile contact
4) Email address
5) Home delivery address

All Galaxy Note7 customers are required to back up their data using Samsung Smart Switch, delete any data or other personal material stored in the device, and reset their device ahead of the home delivery. Customers will receive a cheque for the amount due to them, depending on their selection of the exchange or refund option, in exchange for the Galaxy Note7 device to be returned.

The company is working out the resolution for Galaxy Note7 customers with Samsung original Galaxy Note7 accessories and details will be announced soon.

Samsung channel partners can email note7partner@samsung.com to discuss the remedy for their Galaxy Note7 stocks


Read the Note7 FAQs for Singapore (PDF)

Steps on how to back up and restore data using Samsung Smart Switch. It is painless and works exactly as advertised, but data you might expect to be transferred might not be transferred, so back everything up. Read about my own experience with an older version of Smart Switch