October 25, 2017
'Samsung Galaxy Note 7' WiFi Network Nearly Causes Virgin America Flight 358 To Land Early

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is still causing problems. A Virgin America flight was almost diverted because someone had a WiFi hotspot with a poorly chosen name on Tuesday.

Software engineer Lucas Wojciechowski was on that flight and turned on his laptop only to find something suspicious. A nearby WiFi network with the name "Samsung Galaxy Note 7-1097" appeared as a possible connection.

Lucas alerted flight personnel of the WiFi hotspot name, and there was an immediate search of the passengers' carry-ons. Why would it be this big a problem?

After numerous reports of said smartphone having exploded or caught fire, it has officially become known as an incendiary device. Ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, airline security has been ever cautious about what they allow on flights in the passenger section. It was okay to have metallic items in the luggage, but not in your carry-on bags. All fluids had been deemed immediately potential components of a bomb. You couldn't even carry toothpaste with you because it could have been part of what might explode and kill everyone on board.

A water bottle could be part of a bomb, according to U.S. airline security.
A water bottle could be part of a bomb, according to U.S. airline security. [Image by Sarah Rice/Getty Images]

Needless to say, after reports started regularly stating that the Galaxy Note 7 was catching fire or exploding, the United States air traffic rules expanded to include banning the device from all flights. The problem had become severe enough that Samsung agreed to disable all such devices as of December 19. Verizon even ordered a recall and sent notifications to all owners to return the devices.

The U.S. government stepped in and told owners of the device to exchange it for something which doesn't explode. When the government steps in to solve an issue with mobile devices, it's a big problem.

The final software update for the device actually disabled it on Monday.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been disabled and banned on flights.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been disabled and banned on flights. [Image by Joni Gantz Barwick/ AP Images]

Somehow that didn't stop someone a day later from allegedly playing what may have been a terrible joke on the passengers of Virgin America flight 358. By having the device's name as their WiFi hotspot name, the crew aboard the flight was sent into a panic.

Even expected passengers waiting for the San Francisco to London flight were told the flight was canceled due to the discovery of a Galaxy Note 7 on board, according to CNet. Journalist Serenity Caldwell had been told by a crew member about the possibility of cancellation. Thankfully, it was not so.

The pilot told the passengers that the lights would be turned off as the carry-on baggage was searched, reminding them that the issue was not a joke. He had taken to Twitter and informed the public that the flight would be diverted if someone didn't confess to having the device. He had added that it's a pain being diverted at 3 am in the morning because there is nothing else open in the terminal. Later, he'd updated everyone that the incendiary device actually wasn't on board, and the WiFi network was only named as such on a different device.

It's unknown if further regulations will require those with WiFi hotspot devices to reveal the names of their networks to avoid further incidents such as this one.

The owner of the device, whose name was not released, might not have even been responsible for the name of his mobile WiFi network. It could have been that he'd owned one previously, and the network was simply the same with no name change, as revealed by Twitter user Steve Baxter. It could have simply been Verizon not updating the name of the network on the replacement device.

If you are a previous owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you might want to check your WiFi hotspot name and alert airline personnel before boarding the flight. Getting the flight diverted for not doing so might be an avoidable annoyance.

[Featured Image by Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com]