You might consider your laptop as a constant, indeed must-have travel companion – but if it's one of the MacBook Pro models recalled by Apple, get used to travelling without it.
U.S. airline safety regulators have placed a no-fly ban on selected MacBook Pro models after Apple recently said that some units had batteries that posed a fire risk.
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.
The watchdog 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 issued a warning about these MacBook Pro models earlier this month, telling airlines in the region to follow 2017 rules that require devices with recalled lithium-ion batteries to be switched off and not used during flights.
The Apple laptops in question are some 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple issued the recall in June, saying it had “determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk.”
Earlier this week, four cargo airlines implemented a ban which barred "15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 to February-2017" from being brought onto the carriers’ planes as cargo, according to an internal notice obtained by Bloomberg News.
“Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge,” Apple said in a June statement. Once new batteries are installed in the laptops, customers are free to fly with the computers.
According to a Canadian notice from June, about 432,000 MacBook Pros sold in the U.S. were included in the recall. Roughly 26,000 units sold in Canada were impacted, too, while the number sold in Europe hasn’t been disclosed.
In a July 10 tweet following an incident involving a MacBook, the FAA said “recalled #batteries do not fly.”
The MacBook Pro isn’t the first consumer tech device to be barred from airlines. In 2016, Samsung's Note 7 was banned by many airlines worldwide flights due to a fire hazard after the handset’s battery exploded in multiple incidents.
While there have been repeated incidents of phones, laptops and other devices overheating and catching fire in passenger compartments of planes, it hasn’t ever caused a fire to spread.
The flames can be extinguished with water and flight attendants are trained how to address it. There have been at least three accidents, two of them fatal, on cargo airlines since 2006 in which lithium batteries were suspected of helping spread fires. Stricter rules on shipping them have been introduced since then.
U.S. aviation regulations prohibit carrying recalled batteries on flights unless they’ve been replaced or stored in special packaging that inhibits fires, according to FAA guidelines on hazardous materials.