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Samsung setting up booths at airports to exchange Note 7s

This Sept. 8, 2016, photo, shows a damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7, in Marion, Ill. (Joni Gantz Barwick / Associated Press)
This Sept. 8, 2016, photo, shows a damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7, in Marion, Ill. (Joni Gantz Barwick / Associated Press)
By Hayley Tsukayama Washington Post

The Department of Transportation’s ban on the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 could be leaving some users in a lurch if they try to bring the phone on any flight going to or from any part of the United States. To help those folks, Samsung is setting up pop-up exchange booths of sorts at airports to offer customers another Samsung phone in exchange for their faulty Notes.

In a statement, Samsung said booths in the U.S. will be at “some of the most frequently visited airports around the country,” but did not provide a full list of airports. The San Francisco International Airport seems to be one of them as Twitter users have reported seeing the booths there.

The tech company has already set up these pop-up booths at major airports in Australia and, according to the Korea Times, South Korea.

When asked, the company did not say whether the Samsung phones received from the airport kiosks could then be swapped for another phone once you arrive at your destination. So if you weren’t sure whether you wanted a Samsung phone in exchange for your Note, this may not be the best option for you.

Even Samsung advises that it’s best to exchange your phone before you get to an airport if possible. That way, you won’t have to add this hassle to the other hassles of modern-day air travel. Airports are not exactly the calmest places, and therefore not the best locations for making a smartphone purchasing decision – particularly when your alternative is having no smartphone at all.

All Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users can ask for a refund or a new smartphone (users will pay any price difference) under the terms of the recall. Those that pick another Samsung phone are eligible for a $100 bill credit; those that pick another device, such as Apple’s iPhone 7, are granted a $25 bill credit.

It’s not clear how many people are caught short by this flight ban. The order officially went into effect on Saturday, Oct. 15, just a day after being announced. Prior to that, users were told to shut the phones off and not use them during flights. So, if someone left on a long weekend trip Friday morning – thinking they could keep their phone with them as long as it was turned off – they will now find it impossible to bring their smartphone back with them.

The ban is absolute: You can’t board with the Note 7, even if it’s turned off. You definitely can’t check it. You can’t ship it by air. The only real option, if you want to board your flight, is to get rid of the phone.

And you thought having to throw away a mostly full bottle of water in a security line amnesty box was a waste.

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