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Flight Delayed Over Galaxy Note 7 Hoax

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A Virgin Atlantic flight was delayed and almost diverted after a passenger changed their Wi-Fi hotspot name to ‘Galaxy Note 7’

A Virgin Atlantic flight in the US was delayed and almost diverted after a passenger noticed a Wi-Fi hotspot named after the Galaxy Note 7, suggesting the banned device might be on board.

The smartphone, launched earlier in 2016, was hit by batteries that caught fire or exploded, and Samsung issued a recall, only to find that the replacement devices suffered similar problems.

In-flight scare

Samsung

It has been banned from commercial flights by the US Department of Transportation.

Virgin America flight 358 from San Francisco to Boston was en route for an overnight flight on Tuesday, 20 December when passenger Lucas Wojciechowski noticed a Wi-Fi hotspot named “Samsung Galaxy Note 7_1097”.

He notified a flight attendant and passengers were told to press their call button if they had the device.

Wojciechowski tweeted the cabin crew and pilot’s announcements over the plane’s on-board Internet connection, writing: “This isn’t a joke. We’re going to turn on the lights [it was 11pm at this point] and search everyone’s bag until we find it.”

Fifteen minutes later the captain addressed the passengers, explaining the plane would be diverted from its destination and searched on the ground unless someone came forward with the offending device.

Shortly after that announcement Wojciechowski tweeted that staff had found the device, and discovered that while its Wi-Fi hotspot was named after the banned handset, the device itself was not a Galaxy Note 7.

False alarm

“Ladies and gentlemen, we found the device. Luckily only the name of the device was changed to Galaxy Note 7. It was not a GN7,” Wojciechowski wrote.

Serenity Caldwell, an editor at the website iMore, was awaiting a flight at the Boston terminal where the flight was to land and reported that a flight had been cancelled due to the delay caused by the incident.

“They’re hanging out while we wait to begin boarding, and one of them lets this slip: “Know why the 9am flight got cancelled?” she tweeted. “The plane was mid-flight when an attendant noticed a wi-fi hotspot. A Galaxy Note 7 wi-fi hotspot. Everyone else makes a horrified face.”

The Galaxy Note 7 has been a costly embarrassment for Samsung, which earlier this month issued a software update that blocks the device’s battery from charging and disables its telephone functions.

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