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Some airlines ban all MacBooks from checked baggage over battery recall

Steven Gagne

More airlines have banned a number of Apple MacBook models from checked baggage, adding to the list of carriers that have restricted the device. Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways have all now issued partial or complete bans on their flights.

This follows a voluntary recall issued by Apple in June 2019. The recall affects all 15-inch MacBook Pro models sold between September 2015 and February 2017, and was issued in response to the built-in battery forming a potential fire hazard.

In August 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned the affected models from all flights, while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EUASA) released a warning to European airlines regarding the affected MacBook Pro devices.

Now, Virgin Australia has said that the faulty models are prohibited from checked luggage and must not be packed in the plane’s hold. They can, however, be taken on-board as carry-on baggage. The airline has now added the following on its Dangerous Goods page: “Due to a worldwide recall by Apple of a number of Apple MacBook batteries, ALL Apple MacBooks must be placed in carry-on baggage only. No Apple MacBooks are permitted in checked-in baggage until further notice.”

The impact of this guidance may actually be relatively slight, given that it’s only a partial ban. Many people already take their laptops onboard as carry-on luggage anyway, so for them there will be no change.

But if you were breathing a sigh of relief at that news, the word from Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways is less forgiving. Following the advice from the FAA and EUASA, both airlines have barred affected MacBooks from both checked and carry-on baggage unless you can prove the battery is safe or has been replaced by Apple. It’s unclear how exactly you go about proving you’ve received a new battery from Apple, though, so this could be an almighty hassle when you reach the check-in desk.

The slight ray of hope is that Apple has offered to replace the faulty batteries free of charge. If you think you might be impacted, click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your Mac, then click About This Mac. If you see the words “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015),” you’ll need to enter your serial number on Apple’s recall page. This will tell you if it’s eligible for a free battery replacement. If it is, pop along to an Apple Store and the company will do the rest.

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