Poor Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. can’t catch a break when it comes to its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 line, with a replacement device catching fire during a flight Wednesday.
The Galaxy Note 7 device reportedly caught fire on Southwest Airlines flight 944 from Louisville to Baltimore resulting in a full evacuation of the plane, which fortunately for all involved, was still sitting at the gate.
According to The Verge, who spoke to the owner of the phone, the device was definitely a replacement Note 7 that he had collected from an AT&T store on September 21. A photo shown of the box the device came in includes a black square symbol which is imprinted by Samsung to indicate that it is a replacement phone, along with a green battery icon.
Samsung first announced a recall of the original Galaxy Note 7 September 3 after multiple reports of the phone catching fire, a problem the company described as a battery fault in 0.1 percent of devices.
Owners of the phone were advised to contact the Samsung U.S. Customer Service team on 1-800-SAMSUNG, contact the company via live chat on their support website, or to return the phone to the store of purchase, where they could to exchange their Note 7 for a fixed version or for a Galaxy S7 Edge, with a refund in price difference and replacement of any Note 7 accessories.
Samsung said in a statement that it was investigating the incident, noting that “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.”
While most will immediately conclude, and with reason, that the incident indicates that Samsung has still not properly fixed the original issue with the Note 7, there could potentially be another cause that has precedent, and that’s the plane seat.
In an incident in June, an iPhone caught fire on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to New York after it became stuck in the seat pocket.
According to The Daily Mail the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the phone was crushed when it got trapped in the seat and caught alight when the passenger tried to use the recliner to get it. The report notes that the lithium battery in the phone was damaged when it got caught in the seat, and ignited.
Qantas issued a formal warning to customers after the incident, advising them to keep track of their phone while seated and to alert flight crew if they lose it down the side, instead of moving their seats.
While it’s still far too early to know what caused the Galaxy Note 7, in this case, to catch fire it is a possibility, and although the owner claims to have put it in his pocket, whether that was his actual pocket or seat back pocket is not clear at this stage.