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Galaxy Note 7 hotspot name freaks out a flight

Commentary: The captain of a Virgin America flight reportedly threatens to search all the passengers after one has an unfortunate name for a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


This seems unwise.

Lucas Wojciechowski/Screenshot by CNET

Did someone think this was funny?

Did someone think this was so funny that people would laugh despite the hint that something bad could happen?

If so, that someone may have miscalculated.

Software engineer Lucas Wojciechowski was on a Virgin America flight on Tuesday from San Francisco to Boston when he spotted a strange Wi-Fi hotspot name: Samsung Galaxy Note7_1097.

He tweeted a screenshot to prove that there was, indeed, a hotspot with an incendiary name. After all, airlines have banned the phone that spontaneously combusted on occasion.

Wojciechowski also tweeted what happened next. First, he said, there was an appeal for anyone with a Galaxy Note 7 to come forward. This was an hour into the flight.

Next, he tweeted, came this announcement: "15 minutes later 'This isn't a joke. We're going to turn on the lights' (its 11pm) 'and search everyone's bag until we find it.'"

Another 15 minutes passed and the captain made his own plea. Or was it a threat? "Apparently the plane is going to have to get diverted & searched if nobody fesses up soon," he tweeted.

The follow-up from the captain: "'I don't know if you've ever been diverted at 3am... Let me tell you, it is terrible. There is nothing open in the terminal. Nothing.'"

And finally this: "'Ladies and gentlemen, we found the device. Luckily only the name of the device was changed to 'Galaxy Note 7'. It was not a GN7.'"

Virgin America didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. However, journalist Serenity Caldwell tweeted that she was on the ground in Boston and her Virgin America flight was canceled.

She says she was told by a crew member: "'The plane was mid-flight when an attendant noticed a wifi hotspot. A Galaxy Note 7 Wifi hotspot.' Everyone else makes a horrified face,'" Caldwell tweeted.

It's unclear why the flight would have been delayed if, as Wojciechowski says, the miscreant had already been found.

Indeed, a Virgin America spokesman told me: "When our InFlight Teammates see potential evidence of this device onboard, they take it seriously. In this case, there was no such device -- the safety of the passengers and crew was never in question. And no flights were cancelled or delayed as a result."

There's also the question of whether the alleged miscreant really was a miscreant. As one tweeter to Wojciechowski, Steve Baxter, claimed: "The person might not have done this. I went from a Note7 to an S7 and the hotspot is actually still called Note7 on my S7."

So we appear to have had a bit of a kerfuffle, a possible -- and failed -- attempt at humor and another day in the life of a fallen phone.

Update, 2.45 p.m. PT: Adds statement from Virgin America.