The Federal Aviation Administration had no choice last week but to issue its edict banning the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone from being brought on airplanes.
The evidence went from merely anecdotal, suggesting the incidents of overheating batteries and subsequent fires with the device were happenstance, to hard facts. Simply put, too many of the phones were overheating to believe it was an uncommon occurrence.
BUT … and that’s a big but … not all of the Galaxy Note 7 devices are reacting this way. There are overwhelming numbers of Samsung customers who own that exact model who have had no problem whatsoever and who wouldn’t dream of parting with their beloved phone.
Unless they were traveling.
And now we have a whole new dilemma in which the FAA and airlines are putting customers in an uncompromising position.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners can either leave their phone at home when they travel, which is likely not going to happen given that business travelers are tethered to their smartphones. Or they can purchase a different model. Or they can attempt to bring it on a plane and have it confiscated.
Or they can flat-out lie.
I, personally, have a Samsung Galaxy S6. With the phone case I have, there is no discernible way to tell what model it is, as all it says on the face is the word Samsung.
But according to a memo sent out to flight attendants by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), “Customers will be asked upon check-in at the ticket counter if they are in possession of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. If they answer in the affirmative, they will be asked to surrender the device or rebook travel. The same process will apply if a passenger with a device subsequently makes it to the TSA check point or to the gate.”
You see what I am driving at here?
Flight attendants were also advised by their union to make the following announcement on board: "Due to a recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned these devices for transportation on board all aircraft. If you are in possession of this device, please notify a flight attendant immediately. Thank you."
And, following door closure: "Due to a recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note7, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned these devices for transportation on board all aircraft. If you are in possession of this device, please notify a flight attendant immediately. The device must remain powered off, not connected to any power source and visible for the duration of flight. We appreciate your cooperation. If you encounter a passenger onboard with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 prior to door closing, please notify the gate agent so the device can be removed from the aircraft."
So now Note 7 owners will get the same scrutiny that some fliers reserve for passengers who “look a certain way.”
On the one hand is the understandable need for safety and security. Some of these things have, quite literally, blown up and caused fires after overheating.
And some are perfectly fine, creating quite a moral dilemma for some Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners.
Play it on the down-low and keep your phone? Or admit you are a Galaxy Note 7 owner and risk having your veritable lifeline taken away?
Quite the conundrum, indeed.