Southwest Airlines flight 994 from Louisville to Baltimore was evacuated this morning while still at the gate because of a smoking Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. All passengers and crew exited the plane via the main cabin door and no injuries were reported, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said.
More worrisome is the fact that the phone in question was a replacement Galaxy Note 7, one that was deemed to be safe by Samsung. Brian Green, owner of the Note 7, confirmed that he had picked up the new phone at an AT&T store on September 21st. A photograph of the box shows the black square symbol that indicates a replacement Note 7 and Green said it had a green battery icon.
Green said that he had powered down the phone as requested by the flight crew and put it in his pocket when it began smoking. He dropped it on the floor of the plane and a “thick grey-green angry smoke” was pouring out of the device. Green’s colleague went back onto the plane to retrieve some personal belongings and said that the phone had burned through the carpet and scorched the subfloor of the plane.
He said the phone was at around 80 percent of battery capacity when the incident occurred and that he only used a wireless charger since receiving the device.
Running the phone’s IMEI (blurred for privacy reasons) through Samsung’s recall eligibility checker returns a “Great News!” message saying that Green’s Galaxy Note 7 is not affected by the recall.
Samsung is likely in full-fledged crisis mode at this point, as a replacement phone catching fire would be truly disastrous for the company’s image and finances. Samsung issued a statement –
Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note7. 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.
Green’s Note 7 is in the hands of the Louisville Fire Department’s arson unit for investigation and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is opening an investigation into the incident. He has already replaced it with an iPhone 7.