back to article Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'

A Virgin America flight from San Francisco to Boston was nearly diverted after someone onboard named their phone's Wi-Fi hotspot 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'. A passenger on Flight 358, Mapboix software developer Lucas Wojciechowski, was scanning the plane for in-flight Wi-Fi when he noticed a hotspot active that appeared to be …

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  1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Perhaps a nice whack to the forehead of said moron, with their own device of course. They'd also have to make sure it's hard enough to knock it's Wi-Fi offline permanently though.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      How about being assigned to work at the Galaxy Note 7 disposal center?

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        @Kevin McMurtrie

        I was thinking he could try to imitate DB Cooper sans parachute.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What if it was a REAL Galaxy Note 7 but they changed it to read "totally safe iPhone 7 guy?"

      It's totally inappropriate, and yet funny all at once. I love the over-reaction, yet lots of innocent people were delayed for no reason. I just make my hotspot read "ISIS Recruitment Network Outreach Program", or how about "This phone is a bomb! but not really, did I scare you? Sorry, just funnin' ya, ya prick!"

      What if the guy had a bunch of Galaxy Note 7s strapped to him like sticks of dynamite though? THAT would be so startling! If someone were to call him on one... well, the damage would be quite a bit more than you could imagine. "I don't know, I can imagine quite a lot." -- Han Solo

      1. Olius

        You must be a real hoot at parties, AC. Do you also give people wedgies, and then shout "Only joking! JEEZ, can't you take a joke?!" when they get annoyed?

        1. boltar Silver badge

          "You must be a real hoot at parties, AC. Do you also give people wedgies"

          Don't underestimate the number of adults who have the same sniggering schoolboy sense of humour that they has as kids. Its the reason TV programs like Mrs Browns Boys (and in a previous generation Benny Hill) are so successful.

          1. joea

            And then there's Donald Trump . . .

      2. Magani
        Flame

        @AC

        I love the over-reaction,...

        Words fail me.

      3. Ishtiaq

        Are you pissed?

        Reading your post I gives me the impression that you have been sniffing too many beermats either that or you are one stick short of a bundle.

        Cheers... Ishtiaq

    3. macjules Silver badge

      I would have gone down the route of, "This in-flight scare was brought to you by Mr F*ck Witt, sitting in seat number 39A, Please feel free to thank him for waking you up"

      1. Triggerfish

        "This is your captain speaking. We'd like to point out it was passenger in seat 3a who caused this problem, he has been asked to remain seating so that everyone can walk past him when leaving and call him.... well whatever you like really, we may not notice the odd slap either"

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. ma1010 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I say let him walk home NOW

    Toss this silly wanker out of the plane. Yes, with a parachute -- I'm not that evil. But really, sometimes human stupidity just seems to know no bounds.

    1. The Axe

      Re: I say let him walk home NOW

      You are talking about the one who reported that he had seen a badly named WiFi hot spot and put 2 and 2 together to make 5 aren't you?

    2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Meh

      The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

      A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is not the equivalent of a hand grenade with the pin pulled out. The manufacturing defect affects less than 0.01% of phones, that's less than one in ten thousand phones. Even if it wasn't one of the >99.99% of phones without defect, this certainly doesn't mean it was about to burst into flames.

      If I was on the flight I think I would be far angrier at the people who over-reacted than the individual who set up the hotspot in the first place.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

        Risk assessments should be treated differently at 35000 ft, for a start the fire engine when called doesn't have a long enough ladder.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

          "for a start the fire engine when called doesn't have a long enough ladder."

          you realise that if this had been over London, the Mayer and the FBU would be blaming that in inadequate equipment because of Tory cuts .....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

            ...and they'd be right

        2. P. Lee Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

          Is everyone here too young to remember that we used to allow smoking on aeroplanes?

          Yeah it was silly, but maybe it was set weeks earlier while firmly on, er, terra firma.

          Maybe some simple triangulation equipment on board might be a cheap antidote to the forgetful and the pranksters.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

        "A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is not the equivalent of a hand grenade with the pin pulled out."

        Nevertheless they are banned from flights. So if it actually had been a SGN7 the plane would have been flying with a banned object on board. That is a serious state of affairs and I'd expect there would have been repercussions for the airline for doing this. That Smooth Newt considers it safe would not be a relevant factor.

        1. 9Rune5

          Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

          "Nevertheless they are banned from flights"

          By the same people who banned us from bringing more than half a litre of H2O on the flight?

          The rules have been watered out and at least my respect for them has gone down the drain.

          I once had to delay boarding the aircraft because I brought a 1.5 liter container of orange juice (gift from my step-brother, he did not know any better bless his little heart). I drank it all there because I hate waste.

          In my experience, when the rules make more sense, they tend to command a lot more respect. Oh, and in case nobody noticed: The terrorists won.

      3. Adrian Tawse

        Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

        The risk assessment is not the point. The pilot would be obliged to divert.

      4. Paul 195

        Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

        Yes, the one thing people always say after an accident is "oh well, someone died but at least no one lost their sense of proportion".

      5. Patrick R
        Paris Hilton

        Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

        Thank God, air flight companies have those things something called "procedures" that keeps them from having to assess credible risk a thousand times a day.

    3. patrickstar

      Re: I say let him walk home NOW

      Generally speaking it's not possible to parachute from passenger jets due to how the doors/engines are placed. So you might as well skip the parachute, he's not gonna make it anyways.

      1. VanguardG

        Re: I say let him walk home NOW

        D. B. Cooper did it by going down the rear stairs so he wouldn't be sucked into an engine or slam into the leading edge of the wing. One wonders if that's still possible (okay, since there's still no trace of Cooper, maybe he didn't make it either). Of course, not every airplane has such stairs anymore. And after Cooper, one would hope aircraft designers would alter the design so there is only hydraulic aid for raising them, and lowering is purely gravity-induced, that way they would never be able to lower them against the pressure of the airflow going by.

    4. SomeoneInDelaware
      Pirate

      Re: I say let him walk home NOW

      Or just leave him/her in North Dakota. That's almost as bad as a D.B. Cooper!

    5. Dagg
      Big Brother

      Re: I say let him walk home NOW

      sometimes human stupidity just seems to know no bounds

      The universe is finite human stupidity is infinite..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two things

    Isn't it possible he named his hotspot months ago at the height of the infamy, and forgot it? I couldn't tell you my hotspot name without checking.

    And these fires are pretty rare. Even if a Note was on board the chances of it engulfing, then bringing down the plane are probably less than the pilot so doing himself. I don't know the precise stats but I seem to recall at least 2 likely pilot suicides in the past 2 years and, er, no lion disasters.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Two things

      Yes, but if the crew looked the other way and it got out, or something happened it would be a disaster for them, the airline and the passengers.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Two things

        Didn't iPhones used to burst into flames as well?

        I don't remember them being banned - although possibly they will be banned on flights in Korea since that seems to be how things work now'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two things

          Didn't iPhones used to burst into flames as well?

          Yeah, but Apple is an American company so the law doesn't apply.

        2. david 12 Bronze badge

          Re: Two things

          >Didn't iPhones used to burst into flames as well?

          Matches do. And although they are now banned from flights, I wouldn't expect the pilot to threaten to land the plan if any were suspected.

          1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
            Facepalm

            Matches.

            I never fly with the Zippos friends and family have bought me. Usually, just a compressed gas "Clipper" like lighter for that 1st fag (sorry cigarette) when I leave the terminal.

            If it gets confiscated, I'll buy another or scrounge a light.

            Somehow, I don't think they are any safer than matches or Zippos, but I've never had one confiscated yet. Hmmmm. PP

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: Two things

        "Yes, but if the crew looked the other way and it got out, or something happened it would be a disaster for them, the airline and the passengers."

        No, and bullshit.

        If I farted in the cabin, I shit you not, you'd be calling the EPA. Yet, it also would be entirely legal.

        Let's not let one fucking measly phone that, realistically, hardly ever fails, result in stupid responses like this.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

          Re: Two things

          1. If you were the flight crew, would you risk getting disciplined by the airline or FAA because you let what was thought to be a functioning electronic device that had been banned by the FAA stay onboard your plane? No, you wouldn't

          2. If something did happen and people were injured or killed, would the passengers, a trial jury or the FAA or National Transportation Safety Board take pity on you because you thought that the risk was insignificant? No, they wouldn't

          3. If you were the airline, would you want the brand damage, damage or destruction of an airplane and all the legal liability described in 2. getting forced on you by a crew that had what to their eyes was good reason to expect that one of these devices was onboard and then did nothing? No, you wouldn't

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Two things

            It is NOT the flight Crew's responsibility to check each device as you board. That is what the morons in the TSA is for. However they are far too engrossed in watching the pictures of what's under the clothes of pretty women to bother.

            This seems to me to be the typical American reaction to anything that might possibly put them outside their little cotton-wool covered comfort zone.

            Overreaction is the norm in that part of the world. Shoot first and don't bother to answer questions.

            Trump will only make them more paranoid even after he builds that wall and bans followers of certain religions from entering the country. The whole place seems to think that everyone in the world is out to kill them. Probably goes back to the time of 'Reds under your beds' and Sentaor McCarthy in the 1950's.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: Two things

              Thing is though, pilots have a duty of care and there was a possibility of a banned item. Pretty much the only thing you can do in the air is divert and hope it doesnt go wrong. The pilot in this case did the wisest course of action: investigate. He obviously knew note 7s werent ticking timebombs and probably had a thought that hotspot name isnt always device name.

              TBH i would rather have been on this virgin flight where the matter was dealt with sensibly rather than (say) a Delta flight.

              1. ilmari

                Re: Two things

                One thing to keep in mind regarding ticking time bomb, the issue is said to be insufficient space for the battery to expand. As Samsung has been limiting the state of charge the battery can operate at, we can assume that the swelling is bigger either near full or near empty, or both.

                So, what happens when you put what is essentially a balloon in a low pressure environment such as an aircraft cabin? Does it get bigger or smaller?

                I think I finally understood why the note got banned on air travel.

                1. david 12 Bronze badge

                  Re: Two things

                  >a balloon in a low pressure environment? Does it get bigger or smaller?

                  No, it doesn't. It's constrained. If it is allowed to get bigger because of case expansion, that, of course, makes it less dangerous.

            2. cambsukguy

              Re: Two things

              >Trump will only make them more paranoid even after he builds that wall and bans followers of certain religions from entering the country

              According to this weeks' Time mag, when 'Murricans are asked how many people out of 100 are Muslims, the averaged reply was 17.

              Since the actual figure is 1, you can see that there is a slight over-exaggeration of the 'threat' that Trump was highlighting.

              The figure for the UK was 15/4.8, reprehensible but none-the-less better, especially as many people might think an Indian national is a Muslim when they are a Hindu.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two things

          "Didn't iPhones used to burst into flames as well?"

          I believe those all turned out to be because of 3rd party batteries ( in the days you could swap them) or cheap arse chargers.

          1. Brian Griffiths

            Re: Two things

            Wtf is an "arse charger"??

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Wtf is an "arse charger"??

              Rocco the Randy Wrestler after two years at Her Majesty's pleasure.

            2. Sean Stacey

              What's an arse charger?

              Read Papillon, then you'll get it.

        3. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Two things

          "Let's not let one fucking measly phone that, realistically, hardly ever fails, result in stupid responses like this."

          YES.

          Over reactions like this are the reason that I cant take more than 100ml of WATER on a flight but I can carry a kg of Lithium ion batteries... the mind boggles.

          The obligatory XKCD : https://xkcd.com/651/

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the crew looked the other way

        Could it be that there was at least one narrowminded person on board? Be it the captain or the whistleblower. Has anyone seen a SGN7 device? I see no proof. Has anyone verified the non-confirmed SGN7 device turned on? No proof either. Someone has seen a Wi-Fi hot-spot name, just a name. To the best of my knowledge the name itself is not banned on any flight, and prankster or not, the law hasn't been breached. Moreover the one discovering the hot-spot has potentially breached the "all electronic devices in flight mode" rule.

        The captain himself was misinformed, or badly trained, or both. Instead of using the facts he has quickly jumped to conclusions, or believed someone else's jumping to conclusions. The El Reg text does not mention the captain asking the owner of the device advertising itself as Galaxy Note to step forward. He voiced his assumptions, not the facts. If one brings onboard a glass container with pills labelled "dilute in 2 pints of milk", is that a 2-pints liquid? I doubt it. Is a half-gallon bottle with a label "50 ml" permitted on board?

        Absurd, isn't it? But that is what the prankster revealed.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Two things

      I am totally against people bringing lions onto aircraft; especially in hand luggage.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Two things

        @Adam1

        Also, I watched "The Lion King" twice last night, cried both times, and now I am proud to say I am totally against lion battery.

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