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Plane passenger’s Galaxy Note 7 prank nearly forces the flight to be diverted

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If you’re taking a flight anytime soon, it’s probably best you don’t set the name of your device’s wi-fi hotspot as “Samsung Galaxy Note 7.”

Someone did just that on a Virgin America plane earlier this week, and almost caused the flight to be diverted.

In case the news somehow passed you by, the Galaxy Note 7 has been on a recall notice for several months after a number of defective batteries caused some of the handsets to catch fire. Hardly surprisingly, the troubling issue prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) to ban the phone from being taken on American aircraft.

So when a passenger on Virgin America flight 358 from San Francisco to Boston spotted someone’s portable wi-fi hotspot listed as “Galaxy Note 7_1097,” they assumed the handset was not only on the plane, but also in use.

Once the cabin crew found out, they called on the passenger to own up, but no one came forward. Lucas Wojciechowski, who was on the flight, told the BBC that at 11 p.m. a member of the cabin crew announced that unless the phone’s owner made themselves known, they’d “turn on the lights and search everyone’s bag until we find it.”

Still no one confessed, prompting the captain to threaten to divert the plane to another airport, according to Wojciechowski.

It seems like this was enough to make the culprit think twice about staying quiet. However, it turned out the device wasn’t a Galaxy Note 7 at all. The owner had somewhat unwisely, and perhaps as part of an ill-thought-out prank, labeled their wi-fi hotspot after the name of Samsung’s now-defunct phone. An act that almost caused a flight to make an additional, and very costly, landing.

In a statement about the incident, Virgin America said, “The DoT has banned the transport of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on board all U.S. aircraft, and Virgin America actively informs guests that they should not bring these devices onboard. As such, when our InFlight Teammates see potential evidence of this device onboard, they take it seriously.”

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