After all US airlines banned passengers from bringing the recalled Galaxy Note7 phone on planes, Samsung has installed stations in high-traffic airports where Note7 owners can turn in their devices for a refund or replacement.
Samsung recalled the Note7 after reports of the phones' batteries smoking and exploding, most notably on a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to land. Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation warned that passengers who attempt to sneak phones onto planes could face criminal charges.
A Samsung spokesperson said the booths would be at "some of the most frequently visited airports around the country," but it did not provide a list. Passengers at lower-traffic airports have been forced to throw away their Note7s, ABC News reported. According to The Verge, Samsung has set up booths in Australia, South Korea, and the US.
In a prepared statement, Samsung recommended that Note7 owners visit local carriers to exchange the phone or obtain a refund before traveling. A spokesperson said airport reps are for "last-minute travel support."
A Samsung representative on the recall hotline did not have an estimate for how many phones had been returned at airports thus far. She said that Samsung was operating at the "top 20 American airlines with a minimum of five representatives per airport." She also said that Samsung would recommend that customers take the full refund for the Note7 rather than "downgrade to the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge." Many wireless carriers are offering exchanges.
Samsung released the Note7 in August 2016. But after nearly 100 reports that the smartphone was overheating and exploding, the company issued a recall for the 1.9 million phones sold and offered replacements in conjunction with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumers then reported that these replacements were overheating as well — one of the replacements even grounded a Southwest Airlines flight. The CPSC and Samsung then recalled all replacement phones, prompting the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to ban the phone from all flights. Experts estimate that there are still 1 million Note7s in circulation and that many owners are ignoring the recall warnings.
Here's the Samsung spokesperson's statement in full:
All Galaxy Note7 owners should visit their local carrier or retail store and participate in the U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program immediately and before traveling. We are coordinating with various partners to communicate the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent order to ban all Galaxy Note7 devices in carry-on and checked baggage on flights across multiple touch-points. We are providing support to Galaxy Note7 owners by exchanging their devices or refunding them in a wide range of places, including at some of the most frequently visited airports around the country. These on-site reps are there to help customers with last minute travel support and can be located by calling the Galaxy Note7 hotline at 1-844-365-6197. But we urge all Galaxy Note7 owners to exchange their device or obtain a refund before they arrive at their airport. We know this is an inconvenience to our customers but their safety has to remain our top priority.