SIA bans charging, use of Note7 on flights

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has joined at least six other airlines in banning passengers from switching on or charging their Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones during flights.

This is owing to concerns over cases of the phone batteries exploding or catching fire.

The other airlines that have made the move include Australia's Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia, as well as Taiwan's China Airlines and EVA Airways.

On Thursday, the United States Federal Aviation Administration said it had advised airline passengers not to turn on or charge their Note7 phones, or stow them in checked baggage.

With the introduction of on-board Wi-Fi, more passengers are using their phones while flying to check e-mail or for entertainment. Most modern aircraft also have USB ports that can be used for charging phones.

South Korean electronics firm Samsung recalled its latest smartphone in 10 markets, including Singapore and the US, last Friday after reports that handsets had exploded or caught fire during charging.

Yesterday, it released a statement pinpointing the root cause as a defect in the battery cell.

"An overheating of the battery cell occurred when the anode-to-cathode came into contact with each other, causing a very rare manufacturing process error," the statement said, without revealing the manufacturer of the battery.

"Several contributing factors happened" at the same time to cause the explosions, Samsung said, including a sub-optimised assembly process leaving electrodes exposed without sufficient insulation tape.

Writer Charlene Koh, 25, who owns a Note7 and may be flying with SIA at the end of the month, said: "I won't be able to listen to music or read on my phone like I normally do. Hopefully the in-flight entertainment will be good."

Samsung said all Note7 users will be able to exchange their phones for new ones of the same model and colour from next Friday to Oct 2.

Local users can register for an appointment time to do so at an online portal that opened yesterday on the Samsung website.

However, owing to the volume of users, many were unable to log in to book an appointment slot.

Four hours after opening it, Samsung removed the link. A working link went up at about 7.30pm. Samsung said it has received over 1,000 registrations in Singapore by 5pm yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2016, with the headline 'SIA bans charging, use of Note7 on flights'. Print Edition | Subscribe