Before we get started
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About two months ago, the 2015 MacBook Pro featuring Retina Display, which was sold from September 2015 to February 2017, was recalled by Apple. The reason given was that the battery might “pose a fire safety risk.” The FAA subsequently cautioned airlines not to accept laptops with faulty batteries on board any plane.
Bloomberg has now reported that a number of airlines have started to ban Apple laptops irrespective of whether they have a defective battery or not.
Virgin Australia, for example, doesn’t allow any MacBook laptop in checked luggage. The notice on the airline’s “Dangerous Goods” page makes no distinction between models, the year it was manufactured, or screen size. Apple MacBooks are only allowed as carry-on luggage, full stop.
Since the majority of Apple laptops pose no fire risk, this seems a bit harsh. It appears, however, that you can still use your Apple MacBook during flights.
If you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro and you fly Qantas Airways though, you can’t check it in and neither can you use it during the flight. A spokesperson for the airline said: “Until further notice, all 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros must be carried in cabin baggage and switched off for flight following a recall notice issued by Apple.”
It’s easy to understand why Qantas made this decision. Check-in staff facing long queues of passengers hardly have the time to scrutinise every laptop in detail to find out whether it’s on a banned list or not. It would have been nice though if the airline had exempted MacBook Pros made in 2016 or later (the ones with a Touch Bar), because it’s quite easy to spot them, and they are not on the recall list.
Apple is currently replacing recalled 15-inch MacBook Pro batteries free of charge at authorised repair centres, but sadly even that will not help you much if you fly with Qantas or Virgin Australia.