It’s final: U.S. Department of Transportation bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from U.S. flights

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It’s over for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on U.S. planes. As of noon Saturday the smartphone that gave new meaning to no-smoking zones has been banned on U.S. aircraft by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), according to Reuters.

The absolute ban follows earlier warnings against turning on or charging the phone during flight, or packing one in checked luggage. Last week the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the Note 7’s battery “can overheat and catch fire, posing a serious fire and burn hazard to consumers.” The commission further stated that Samsung had reported being notified of 96 Note 7s with overheating batteries.

Safety is paramount. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority. We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident in-flight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”

The Transportation Department warned that passengers who packed the devices in checked luggage raised the risk of “a catastrophic incident.”

The DOT originally threatened confiscation of the phones from any passengers attempting to board an aircraft with a Note 7.  Anyone found onboard with a phone or anyone who packed a Note 7 in checked luggage would face possible fines and criminal prosecution. Later Friday the agency appeared to back off partially, stating that passengers would be “denied boarding” if they tried to board a plane with a Note 7, Reuters reported.

Samsung Electronics dropped the Galaxy Note 7 following reports of fires in devices sent as replacements for the original phones. Samsung has also put together plans for the safe return of the 2.5 million Note 7s including supplying special kits including safety gloves and fireproof bags and boxes. If you have a Note 7 check here for information on how to return the phone safely.

Most mobile devices use lithium-ion batteries, the type in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. U.S. air carriers are stepping up their onboard fire safety precautions against the possibility of Note 7s or any other mobile devices catching fire, including fire-containment bags, special flight crew training, and high-temperature fire suppression extinguishers.