Three Australian airlines ban use of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones during flights

A member of the ground staff drives past a group of Qantas planes parked at the Qantas Domestic Terminal located at Sydney Airport, Australia on July 26, 2016.
A member of the ground staff drives past a group of Qantas planes parked at the Qantas Domestic Terminal located at Sydney Airport, Australia on July 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) –  Three Australian airlines have banned passengers from using or charging Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7 smartphones during flights due to concerns over the phone's fire-prone batteries.

Qantas, its budget unit Jetstar and Virgin Australia said they had not been directed to ban the use of the phone by aviation authorities, but did so as a precaution following Samsung's recall of the phones in 10 markets.

Although customers will still be able to bring the phones on flights, the ban extends to the phones being plugged in to flight entertainment systems where USB ports are available.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, said last week it was suspending sales of its latest flagship mobile device and recalling 2.5 million units shipped globally following reports of exploding “phablets” that dealt a heavy blow to the firm’s reputation. Samsung has sold 2.5 million of the premium devices so far.

"Following Samsung Australia's recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 personal electronic device we are requesting that passengers who own them do not switch on or charge them in flight," a Qantas spokesman said in an emailed statement.  

 

Samsung Australia said in a statement that it had liaised with Qantas and Virgin Australia following the recall.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering its response to the Samsung recall and "working on guidance related to this issue," according to a FAA statement quoted by technology website Gizmodo.

Airlines have previously banned hoverboards from planes due to battery-fire risks.

In February, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations' agency, banned lithium-ion batteries from checked luggage following concerns from pilots and plane makers that they are a fire risk.