PASSENGERS have been banned from using or charging Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones on flights with three Australian airlines as concerns mount over exploding batteries.
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia imposed the ban after Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, which were released last month, amid reports some had burst into flames.
A Qantas spokesman said the airline was asking owners of the phone not switch it on or charge it in-flight, AAP reported.
“Following Samsung’s product recall announcement, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices may not be used or charged on board Virgin Australia flights,” a Virgin spokesman said.
Samsung Australia recalled 51,060 Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on Monday after its parent company found some of the batteries exploded or caught fire. One phone reportedly exploded in a Perth hotel next to its sleeping owner, causing extensive damage.
The ban comes as Qantas passengers are being warned about dropping their phones on flights over fears batteries could explode if crushed by reclining seats.
Passengers on board a Qantas A380 flight from Sydney to New York City last week were told in the pre-flight briefing to “ask the crew for help if they lost their phone… and not, repeat not, to try to find it themselves”. A reporter from tech website The Register heard the announcement.
It follows an incident in May this year when a fire was sparked after a mobile phone became crushed in a seat’s moving mechanism on board a Qantas flight from Sydney to Texas.
The Australian Transit Safety Bureau, which recently released the findings of its investigation into the incident, traced the source smoke on the flight to business class seat 19F, where “a crushed personal electronic device [was] wedged tightly in the seat mechanism”.
“The cabin crew assessed that the crushed PED contained a lithium battery,” the bureau noted.
Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to short-circuiting when under pressure, which causes them to overheat and possibly combust.
Dozens of aircraft fires have been linked to lithium-ion batteries, including a battery that short-circuited in a passenger’s bag on board a 2014 Fiji Airways flight.
“We’re asking people to keep track of their phone in their seat, and if they do lose it down the side, to let a crew member know and to not move their seat,” Qantas told the Telegraph.
“We find this tends to be more of an issue on longer flights and on our Business Class skybeds, where people might have their phone next to them as they relax and it slips down the side of the chair.
“Our crew are trained to deal with this scenario and they’ve done a great job on the odd occasion where we’ve had a phone break and start to smoulder. But obviously, we’d much prefer if we could avoid this happening altogether.”
Similar announcements warning passengers about losing their phones between seats have been witnessed on British Airways and Cathay Pacific flights.