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It Might Not Matter if You Got Your MacBook Was Fixed, It Could Still Be Banned

It Might Not Matter if You Got Your MacBook Was Fixed, It Could Still Be Banned
Jeff Edwards

A safety recall on certain MacBook Pro laptop computers has led some airlines around the world to ban all Apple laptops from checked bags. At the urging of regulators, carriers are taking extraordinary steps to ensure that the potential fire risk posed by a select number of the devices does not translate to an inflight emergency.

If your MacBook or MacBook Pro was not included in the latest round of recalls, then your device is likely safe from potential battery issues that have plagued a limited number of the Apple laptop computers. That doesn’t mean, however, the device will necessarily be permitted in checked luggage any time for the foreseeable future. Airlines, understandably, wary of any fire risk onboard passenger planes, are increasingly banning all MacBook Pros (and in some cases all MacBooks) from aircraft cargo holds.

According to a report from Gizmodo’s Catie Keck, Virgin Australia is just the latest major airline to ban all MacBooks from checked baggage “until further notice.” The move comes after aviation regulatory agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), alerted airlines to the potential risks of allowing the devices in passengers’ checked bags in the wake of a voluntary recall of specific MacBook Pro laptop computers.

The June recall, in response to reports of battery fires, has so far been limited to 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro models sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Rather than asking passengers to check the recall status of their devices or certify that the issue has been fixed as part of the recall, many carriers have simply banned all MacBook Pros from checked bags.

As a rule of thumb, it is believed that it is safer for batteries to be at risk of catching fire in the cabin (where a fire would be quickly noticed) rather than in the cargo area (where a small fire might go undetected for some time). In rare cases, airlines will ban devices with known fire risks from both the cargo hold and the cabin, as was the case with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 mobile phone in 2016.

According to Bloomberg, Qantas Airways, TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, and Air Italy all have specific policies in place barring flyers from traveling with MacBook Pro computers among checked items. Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways also introduced similar bans in recent days.

In most cases, lithium batteries used in laptop computers, mobile phones and e-cigarettes are already prohibited from the cargo holds of passenger planes even without the recall. From time to time, however, airlines (and regulators) take the added step of reminding passengers that specific devices fall into this category. For example, many airlines specifically ban e-cigarettes from checked bags even though the devices are already included in existing bans of lithium batteries.

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. Fornebufox

    September 4, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Why on earth would anyone pack a laptop in checked luggage in the first place??

  2. Gizzabreak

    September 4, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    No devices with lithium power sources in the phone and larger capacity ranges are ever “fixed”, they’re simply counting down to when the next “safe” model of device, or production series of batteries, demonstrates that it too is inflicted with ‘unexpected’ (by the naive) fire hazard problems.

  3. mhrb

    September 5, 2019 at 7:56 am

    @Fornebufox – it shouldn’t be tough to come up with dozens of obvious reasons.

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