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October 19, 2016

Banned from U.S. flights, Samsung Galaxy owners can now exchange devices at PHL

Still need to return your Galaxy Note 7 but have a flight to catch? Samsung's got the perfect solution – representatives are stationed at airports across the country to help customers before they board a plane.

The solution comes after the Department of Labor banned the phone from all U.S. airlines after reports poured in of the device's battery packs spontaneously catching fire.

The federal ban went into effect Saturday but was implemented Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport.

Danielle Meister Cohen, a Samsung spokesperson, couldn't confirm which airports customers can expect to find the exchange representatives, but he encouraged customers to take a trip to their local carrier or retail store to "exchange or refund" the phone.

Representatives were stationed at the PHL's B-C ticketing area and the D-E terminal security checkpoints Tuesday, reported. They're are expected to be there until the end of the week.

"We are providing support to Galaxy Note 7 owners by exchanging their devices or refunding them in a wide range of places, including at some of the most frequently visited airports around the country," Cohen said in a statement. "These on-site reps are there to help customers with last minute travel support and can be located by calling the Galaxy Note 7 hotline at 1-844-365-6197. But we urge all Galaxy Note 7 owners to exchange their device or obtain a refund before they arrive at their airport. We know this is an inconvenience to our customers but their safety has to remain our top priority."

Samsung was forced to discontinue the phone two months after the product launched because of the explosions. The company has also started to ship free fire-proof boxes to customers who still haven't returned the phones to retailers.

The Department of Transportation made the decision after one passenger's phone caused a Southwest Airlines flight to evacuate

There's also a list of hefty criminal charges passengers can expect to face if they bring a Note 7 on board.

Passengers who are caught bringing a Note 7 on board can expect up to 10 years in prison and could pay as much as $180,000 in fines. 

“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident in-flight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”