Southwest Airlines flight 994 departing from Louisville for Baltimore was evacuated this morning after a passenger reported smoke emitting from a Galaxy Note 7 cleared for sale by Samsung following a recent recall. Passengers aboard the flight have been re-booked on alternate Southwest flights.
According to a report inThe Courier-Journal, the Galaxy Note 7 that grounded the flight was purchased by owner Brian Green "about two weeks ago" at an AT&T store. A review of the device's International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number by The Verge confirmed that the device had been deemed safe and unaffected by Samsung's official Galaxy Note 7 recall effort. That recall was prompted by multiple reports of overheating and explosion from the phone's lithium ion battery.
Reached for comment, Samsung said the company could not yet confirm that the device involved in the incident was a post-recall Galaxy Note 7. “Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note7," a Samsung spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause. Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share."
In a September 2 press conference, Samsung leadership blamed the Galaxy Note 7's battery issue on a "battery cell problem" caused by errors in "the manufacturing process."
According to WHAS 11 reporter Rachel Platt, one passenger had finished boarding flight 994 when he saw a male passenger take a smoking Samsung smartphone out of his pocket and throw it on the ground at around 9:15 a.m. local time. Another claimed that the phone burned a hole through the carpet.
The flight was evacuated before it had the chance to take off.
The owner of the smoking device, Brian Green, is reportedly getting a new phone and set of clothes after the incident.
Green told The Verge that the phone was powered down and at 80% capacity when it began emitting a "thick grey-green angry smoke." He also claimed that he replaced the device with the iPhone 7 and that the Louisville Fire Department is in possession of the Samsung phone.
Roughly one million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones have been formally recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Any phone sold before September 15, 2016 is eligible for a replacement and customers can find out more information at Samsung.com.
Southwest is encouraging all of its customers to adhere to the FAA's Pack Safe guidelines which recommend that, "Lithium batteries recalled by the manufacturer/vendor must not be carried aboard aircraft or packed in baggage."