Why Airlines Are Starting to Ban This Type of MacBook Pro
If your computer might be affected, you’re going to want to read this before your next trip.
You’ve probably heard about the recall of the exploding phone batteries and the new rules about checking suitcases with built-in phone chargers—but have you heard about the MacBook Pro battery recall from Apple? It may be a bigger deal than you think, even if you did know about the recall from the start, particularly if you plan to travel.
Here’s the full story on the Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro battery recall: In June 2019, Apple issued a voluntary recall of a small number of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops. According to the press release, the batteries in these computers may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. (No word on whether they’ll actually explode, but you definitely don’t want your laptop catching fire in your lap.) Apple is offering free replacement batteries to anyone affected.
How to know if you’re affected by the Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro battery recall
Fortunately, it’s a rather select group of laptops affected by the recall: 15-inch MacBook Pro computers sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017; Apple is using serial numbers to determine if individual laptops are eligible for free battery replacement. If you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro purchased in 2015, 2016, or 2017, you can visit the recall program page to see if your MacBook’s battery needs to be replaced and, if so, learn how to go about doing so. (Typically, an appointment at your nearest Apple store will take care of it.)
If fire safety isn’t enough, here’s a pretty good reason to care: In August, the FAA (which determines things like carry-on luggage rules and flight safety) reminded airlines that any device with a recalled lithium-based battery (such as the MacBook Pros in question) aren’t allowed on planes in checked or carry-on luggage. This rule is always in place; enforcing it—especially if airlines can’t tell what kind of laptop you have, or if it’s affected—is another matter, especially if passengers are eager to keep safety-compromising secrets in the name of making a flight. That said, if it’s obvious you’re carrying an affected computer on a flight, you could be asked to leave the flight or leave the computer behind.
Now, to make enforcing easier, some airlines are establishing new rules regarding MacBook pros. Virgin Australia is banning all MacBooks from checked bags (they must be in carry-on bags), and Qantas Airways is targeting all 15-inch MacBook pros, saying they must be kept in carry-on luggage and may not be used while in flight. Other international airlines and aviation safety agencies are also issuing warnings and bans regarding the laptops.
If you don’t have a MacBook, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you do have one, check airline guidelines before heading to the airport, especially if you’re traveling internationally. If you have a 15-Inch MacBook Pro, check the serial number with Apple to be sure you’re not affected—you’ll be fine to fly in the U.S. with your computer. If your laptop is included in the recall, make an appointment to get that battery replaced, stat. (Better safe than sorry and all that.) By planning ahead and doing a little research, you can be sure almost nothing—excluding flight cancellations, poor weather, illness, etc.—stops your next trip.