US bans Samsung Galaxy Note7 from all flights

Passengers who evade the ban face criminal prosecution

The U.S. government has issued an emergency ban of Samsung's exploding Galaxy Note7 devices from all airline flights, urging users to take advantage of the company's exchange and refund offers.

Owners of Galaxy Note7s may not transport the devices on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked luggage, Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration said. The smartphones also cannot be shipped as air cargo under the ban, which goes into effect Saturday at noon Eastern Time.

Passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are "increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident," the agencies said in a press release. Anyone violating the ban could face criminal prosecution and fines.

Samsung said it is cooperating with the ban. The company is working with airlines to communicate the ban, a spokeswoman said by email. "Any Galaxy Note7 owner should visit their carrier and retail store to participate in the U.S. Note7 refund and exchange program now," she added by email. "We realize this is an inconvenience but your safety has to remain our top priority."

Samsung started selling the phone in the U.S. in August, and users almost immediately reported exploding devices. In early September, the FAA advised owners not to turn on or charge their devices on flights.

Samsung has twice recalled the devices, but some replaced phones have caught fire as well. The company stopped selling the phone earlier this week. Some owners have hung onto their devices, however.

"The fire hazard with the original Note7 and with the replacement Note7 is simply too great for anyone to risk it and not respond to this official recall," Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a press release. "I would like to remind consumers once again to take advantage of the remedies offered, including a full refund. It’s the right thing to do and the safest thing to do."

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