The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as a number of airlines have banned any Apple MacBook Pro laptops that are subject to an Apple recall for batteries that could be a fire risk. The consequence is that if you turn up to fly with an affected laptop, you will have to choose to fly without it or not fly. In this article, we look at the ban in detail and offer advice on how to check if your laptop is being recalled and what to do to make sure you can fly with your laptop.
In a statement, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was “aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops” and stated that it alerted major U.S. airlines about the recall, that 2015 15-inch MacBook Pros with defective batteries are banned from U.S. flights.
The FAA’s statement follows Apple’s announcement of a voluntary recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk. The units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and can be identified by their product serial number. This is addition to an issue with the batteries in non Touch Bar 13” MacBook Pro laptops manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017.
#RECALL ALERT: The #FAA reminds passengers that recalled #batteries do not fly. Avoid carrying #recalled batteries when flying until repaired/replaced per manufacturer instructions. Learn how to #PackSafe at https://t.co/OzSsV8ar7m. @USCPSC recall ➡️https://t.co/rKTiTdv4lj https://t.co/kqLCRedilp— The FAA (@FAANews) July 10, 2019
On July 10, the FAA retweeted a Digital Trends post with photos of the affected MacBook with a link to the US Consumer Product Safety Commision webpage covering Apple’s recall.
We understand that the FAA has also reminded airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for goods with recalled batteries, which means that the affected Apple laptops should not be taken on flights as cargo or in carry-on baggage by passengers.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has also issued a warning about these MacBook Pro models, telling airlines to follow their 2017 rules that require devices with recalled lithium-ion batteries to be switched off and not used during flights.
Now four airlines with cargo operations - TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat - have also banned the laptops from being brought onto the carriers’ planes as cargo, according to an internal notice obtained by Bloomberg News.
What Do I Do?
If you own an affected model, you haven’t replaced your battery OR you have don’t have documentation confirming that you have replaced the battery, you won’t be able to take your MacBook Pro with you on a flight either in a carry on bag or as baggage in the hold. You will need to decide either to fly without it or not to fly.
The good news is that Apple clearly prints model numbers and serial numbers of the backs of its laptops, but for airport security personnel it isn’t so easy as so many MacBooks from the last 10 years or so look very similar at a glance and so our advice is to take evidence with you, either that the battery has been replaced or your MBP is not affected by the recall..
How Do I Check If My MacBook Pro Is Affected?
15” MacBook Pro
Customers should visit a dedicated page on the Apple website for details on product eligibility and how to have a battery replaced, free of charge.
To confirm which model you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu () in the upper-left corner of your screen. If you have “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015),” enter your computer's serial number on the program page to see if it is eligible for a battery replacement. Eligible customers can get an affected 15-inch MacBook Pro battery replaced, free of charge.
If your laptop is part of the recall, you can take it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple Retail Store, or you can contact Apple Support to arrange mail-in service via the Apple Repair Center. According to Apple’s support document, the service may take up to two weeks.
MacBook Pro 13” Non Touch Bar MacBook Pro
To find out whether your Macbook Pro is affected and qualifies for a free replacement check this page on the Apple website.
You’ll need to provide your Macbook Pro’s serial number. You can find it on the underside of your computer or in System Preferences - About This Mac in the Overview tab.
If you qualify for a free replacement you can take your computer to an Apple store or contact Apple to arrange shipping to a repair centre.
Take Documentation With You
To make sure your journey isn’t disrupted or worse still you cannot fly with your MacBook Pro, first check whether your MacBook Pro is eligible for a recall. If it isn’t then take some evidence, like a printout from the Apple site confirming your MBP isn’t subject to a recall.
If it is subject to the recall, then make sure you get it fixed in good time before you are due to fly again and then keep the replacement documentation on you when you travel.