On Saturday the federal flight ban on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones went into effect in the United States. We asked our readers how this was working out around the globe and from the replies we’ve received, it’s safe to say that, so far, this sucks.
The Transportation Department’s decision to ban the Note 7 from all flights came just days after Samsung announced that it was killing the phone for good. That short window left little time for the manufacturer, wireless carriers, and airlines to present a plan for consumers—and it’s unclear if anyone even has one. So far, it seems that Samsung wants you to return the phone in this fireproof box, airlines say to leave it the fuck at home, and according to one reader, a wireless carrier suggested smuggling it in a sock.
Terrance tells us the confusion began before the ban even started:
I can tell you this, I was returning back to Houston, Texas from Dubai and while in Dubai I was asked before the whole ban about the Note 7 took place to remove all batteries from my check-in bags and if I had a Note 7 to remove the Battery also. Wait a minute the batteries in the Note 7 CAN’T be removed.
People are having trouble telling Galaxy products apart. Rahul tells us:
When the Note was just “semi-banned,” flight attendants were just asking people to power down and not charge. No big deal. Today [10/16/16] as I left San Diego... airlines are still using the old “don’t charge and power down language,” at least on Southwest... But there are signs at the airport that specifically say the device is banned.
At the security checkpoint as a husband/partner was saying goodbye to his wife/partner, she gave her phone to him because she thought she couldn’t take it on the plane. It was a Galaxy S5 or S6, I couldn’t really tell, but definitely not a Note. So lots of confusion. Finally, we are putting a lot of faith in flight attendants who don’t know the difference between a laptop and a tablet let alone a nuanced issue like what’s happening with the Note. I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose access to our cell phones pre-take off again as a result of Samsung’s fuck up.
Then again, there will always be assholes that won’t give up the phone and are cool with potentially endangering other passengers. Antonio tells us about one such asshole, before the official nationwide ban.
Just after the official recall was announced by the government, I had a flight to New York on Jet Blue. On the way back from New York to home there was a girl who had a Coral Blue Note 7 and was stopped at the TSA check where she was told she would have to power down the phone when boarding. At the check in gate, they told her she could not bring the phone on the plane at all, even powered down.
This lead to a bunch of yelling and this was after the announcement over the intercom that the phone was not allowed on the flight. This was September 26th. Jetblue was ahead of everyone else it seemed. Eventually they told her she could go on the plane with it powered off and not to be turned on.
She still had it on during the flight. She was in the row ahead of me.
It’s also causing a lot of potential passengers problems and their service providers aren’t just being unhelpful, they’re giving them bad advice. James explains:
I have been in Asia for a few weeks and head back to the US early tomorrow. I called AT&T and Samsung (on several occasions) inquiring about what to do with my phone now that there is a ban.
Yesterday [10/16/16] when I called, AT&T sent me over to Samsung (and after a long hold time) I was told by a rep that I could smuggle the phone back in a sock!
When I suggested that wasn’t a good idea and that I wouldn’t do that, he said someone from management would contact me. It’s been more than 24 hours and I haven’t heard from them.
I just spent another exasperating hour on the phone with Samsung and was told someone would get in touch—but he didn’t even get my phone number correct.
I would be more than happy to have Samsung dispatch a courier to pick up my phone from my hotel in Bangkok—but that idea has fallen on deaf ears.
I am at my wit’s end. I have considered asking if the hotel would keep it, but I am not sure if they would be willing to suggest a request. It’s extremely frustrating. I just moved from iPhone to Samsung and this has been a horrible experience.
Peter doesn’t know what to do, but he’s really trying to do good.
So I flew from California to Israel for vacation a week ago, kept my Note 7 powered down in my pocket while on United Airlines on the way. I plan to fly back to California later this week — but now what? There’s no way I can think of to get my phone from Israel to my home in California. I can’t bring it aboard the plane since it’s completely banned now, powered down or not, and apparently it’s also illegal now to ship it by cargo plane. If I can’t get it home, how am I going to turn it in for a rebate or for a new phone? And if I can’t bring it back with me, how do I safely trash it here in Israel? Seems dangerous to just throw it in the garbage or to crush it with a hammer. It’s waterproof, so throwing it in the Sea of Galilee probably won’t disable it. My tentative solution is to drive it to the Dead Sea and throw it in — all that salt should neutralize it.
I’ve called Verizon and Samsung, and needless to say, neither company has any good ideas here.
A reader who asked to not be named explains how difficult the situation is when you purchased the phone in a country that is not your home:
There are many traveling passengers still with their Note 7s who plan to return the said devices to their original point (or country) or sale, or risk incurring financial losses of ~$800 or more......
Case in point: myself and family flew into San Francisco from Hong Kong earlier this month for our annual US vacation and will be leaving by end of the month. Two Note 7s were brought in which were purchased from a reputable Hong Kong dealer. Back then when we flew in, there was no Note 7 ban, only advice to turn the device off while in flight.
The Hong Kong dealer recently issued email notices to customers to return their Note 7s for a full refund. Now that the Note 7 flight ban is issued, we have no idea how to bring back these Note 7s back to Hong Kong. Given the latest ban this means we’ll have to forfeit these phones at the checkpoint which translates to huge financial losses from ~$1600 onwards, something my family is unwilling to do so.
And for the record, my family is eager (and committed ) to bringing the affected phones back to Hong Kong to complete the product return process, as instructed by the local HK dealer — where these phones will be better-handled courtesy of the local Samsung affiliate.
And it really sucks not to have your phone when you need it. Atul, for example, tells us:
I got a replacement note 7 on sep 25 before leaving for a 20 day trip to Sacramento from Michigan. Loved the phone, had absolutely no issues with it. Meanwhile they continued exploding all over the world. Another recall ensued and I planned to return the phone when i got back to Michigan. Right before my return trip home, FAA announced the ban on flights. I scrambled to return the phone in Sacramento, T-Mobile was very helpful.
I figured i could survive a day without the phone. On my way back from the airport in Michigan to my home, around midnight, a deer decided to walk right in front my car while i cruised on i-96 w. Couldn’t call the police couldn’t take pictures for insurance. After 10 hrs of travel, I waited around for 40 minutes and left the scene hoping insurance would understand. Dont know what to blame, my luck, the deer’s or Samsung.
[NOTE: Some responses have been lightly edited for spelling and clarity]