This morning, I caught a flight out of San Francisco and witnessed up close the confusion over the FAA's policy on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones on planes. When I got to the gate, the airline announced overhead that due to an emergency order from the FAA no Samsung Galaxy 7 phones would be allowed on the plane. She quickly corrected herself and said the full, correct name of the device. A few minutes later, I asked the gate attendant if there had been any confusion among travelers about which Samsung phone is banned and which ones are not. She replied that a couple of Note 7s had shown up at the gate but that nobody had tried to carry one on because they didn't know what model it was.
Fifteen minutes later, up in the air just after the "fasten your seatbelts" sign had gone off, a flight attendant went through the plane asking people if they had a smartphone on them. If they did, she asked them what kind it was. I wasn't expecting this sort of person-by-person check and did not know it was required by the FAA. Maybe it's the airline (Alaska) that requires it. When the man next to me was asked if he had a phone, he replied that he did. When the flight attendant asked if it was a "Galaxy 7" the man replied: "No, it's a Galaxy S7. When he pulled the phone out of his pocket to show her, even I thought it looked like a Note 7. It was the same shape, had the same curves, and was all black.
The flight attendant then asked the man if the phone was powered down, to which he replied yes. She told him his phone is not allowed on flights in the U.S. She mentioned the FAA ban. The man wisely didn't try to explain the phone was not a Note, but rather nodded his head. He put his phone back in his pocket, and the flight attendant moved on.
Obviously, there is a lot of confusion out there: How many people believe the S7 is dangerous? How many think all Samsung phones are dangerous? MS