MacBook ban: Qantas, Virgin Australia clamp down on Apple laptops

Qantas and Virgin Australia join the list of airlines clamping down on Apple MacBooks due to concerns over faulty batteries.

By David Flynn, August 27 2019

Qantas and Virgin Australia are clamping down on travellers using Apple laptops following a recall of selected MacBook Pro models due to issues which could see the battery overheat and potentially catch fire.

Qantas has declared that while MacBook Pro laptops will be allowed on board for domestic or international flights, they must remain turned off.

"Until further notice, all Apple MacBook Pros must be carried in cabin baggage and switched off for flight following a recall notice issued by Apple,” a Qantas spokesperson told Executive Traveller.

Update: as of August 28, Qantas has revised its stance to specify that this applies only to "all 15 inch Apple MacBook Pros", and does not include the smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro models.

Virgin Australia's sweep encompasses all MacBook laptops, not just those models hit by Apple's recall notice.

“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," the airline says. “No Apple MacBooks are permitted in checked in baggage until further notice.”

The airlines' decisions follow a 'no-fly ban' imposed on selected MacBook Pro models by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, after Apple issued a worldwide recall on some 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017, admitting that "the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk."

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.

Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines asked travellers "to refrain from bringing the affected models either as hand-carry or in checked baggage until the battery has been verified as safe or replaced by the manufacturer."

Travellers can determine if their Apple MacBook Pro is one of the affected models which qualify for a free battery replacement by visiting the Apple website's 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Recall Program page.

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 524

This seems extreme, especially for long-haul flights. It's not hard to read the model number off the bottom of a computer and confirm that it's not an affected model.

PaulST

PaulST

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2014

Total posts 52

There goes my plan to get any work done on SYD-HKG next month.

Lmc

Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 52

Im sure a glass of red and a movie will be enjoyed haha

Concorde1990

Concorde1990

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 65

Go to an apple store and get the battery replaced if it is faulty. If it's not; get a letter from apple specific to your Mac serial number, stating that it's unaffected by the recall and poses no risk.

PunditShafton

PunditShafton

12 Jun 2014

Total posts 69

I'm doomed! $10000 for a silver block can only be used as a brick,if at all.

markpk

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 449

Why?

It takes a user 5 seconds to click on "About this Mac" and show Qantas/VA staff that its either part of or not part of the affected range.

There's nothing on the Qantas website about this. Why implement such a draconian policy, comment publicly about it but then not have anything listed on their website?

vperez

vperez

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2014

Total posts 49

Not only that, but it's not difficult to recognise the difference between the 15 and 13'in MBP. But hey, why use reason when you can go to the extreme and assert 'precaution'.

tommygun

tommygun

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 82

Staff do not have time to individually check every Apple. Nor will they agree to do so, as it may place liability on them if they get it wrong and an incident occurs. The only workable strategy is a clear statement of broad policy that must be adhered to in all cases. Disclosure: I have a MacBook, for the time being I'll have to wear the restrictions in the greater good.

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 287

Last flight I did with Singapore Airlines I noticed a lithium ion fire containment bag in the overhead locker, I have actually thought of carry my spare batteries in one of these bags, most drone shops sell the bags and are available on ebay.

OZjames70

OZjames70

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 16

We had similar arguments for the Samsungs, and my call is err on the side of safety.

Bavarian

Bavarian

23 Aug 2012

Total posts 33

Although banning all is a simple policy, this is more than a massive annoyance to business travellers and it's way over the top. Banning 15" MacBooks, okay, simple enough. But banning all, just in case?
And then: Can't there be a tamper-evident-sticker to be acquired at any Apple outlet, indicating "this MacBook has a safe battery", so that even the dumbest and most untrained airport staff, security staff and (albeit quite likely not in the category "dumbest") crew would be able to quickly check and allow using?

Phil O'Paistree

Phil O'Paistree

10 Dec 2018

Total posts 21

"... Can't there be a tamper-evident-sticker to be acquired at any Apple outlet, indicating "this MacBook has a safe battery" ...". No, there can't, because there's no such thing as a safe lithium battery at these power 'densities'.

tinac

tinac

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

Let's not refer to humans doing their work as “dumb” or “dumber than others” just says more about you than anything really

Phil O'Paistree

Phil O'Paistree

10 Dec 2018

Total posts 21

Excellent to see that the red arrows reflect a reasonably high level of common sense with regard to suggestions along the lines that security staff could 'simply turn them on and check to see if they are an affected model ... or not'. No thanks, not in my security queue, not on my flight. Just ban them. Totally. Too much risk on aircraft. Lithium battery problems (yet again) have the potential to topple a product manufacturer (and an aircraft) ... no Apple products to be carried on flights equals no Apple (eventually). Boeing had their early 787's grounded due lithium battery problems, grounding Apple WILL ensure an enduring fix, either to lithium batteries or by way of a safer power source. 'Disclaimer' our family is all Apple (except one standalone, totally isolated CAD design station), iMacs, iPads, iPhones ... and has had THREE iPhones pop their screens out with blown/swollen batteries, in the last 18 months.

markpk

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 449

Phil,

I wasn't suggesting security staff should be turning on laptops - this is an onboard issue. My suggestion was that if a MacBook user is onboard and wants to use their MacBook then its a 1 minute process to open "About This Mac" so as to show the cabin crew that the computer is not on the recall list.

Airlines around the world managed to deal with the Samsung burny phone issue without banning all Android/Samsung phones.

Apple was made aware of the issue and has followed established protocols to offer free replacements. The issue is that consumers are either being complacent or just plain ignorant.

This same issue has occurred in Australia and around the world with faulty airbags and its taken Government threats to not allow re-registration of affected vehicles for the ignorant vehicle owners to take action.

Apple should toughen up and deliver a disable trojan into affected units, rendering them unusable until the battery is replaced.

Concorde1990

Concorde1990

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 65

I'd question that 3 blown batteries statement. If it is true; what damage have they undergone? Are they original, genuine apple batteries? Do you use the correct charger? Are they enclosed in a case that prevents heat escaping?...

Statistically unlikely

Stuart Roberts

Stuart Roberts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 May 2016

Total posts 3

It is easy to go onto the Mac site to get confirmation that your MacBook is ok. I did it this morning. If you are about to fly, print off the response and carry it with you. Happy flying.

OZjames70

OZjames70

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 16

If the problem is with high-density lithium-ion batteries overheating, surely safety must be the driving decision point.

Phil O'Paistree

Phil O'Paistree

10 Dec 2018

Total posts 21

OZjames70

Thank you. At least two of us appear to appreciate the serious nature of an in flight fire. Only 8 billion (odd) minus 2 to go.

flyingcuggers

flyingcuggers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Sep 2017

Total posts 4

Flying on Friday, and have a 17" Macbook Pro. It has a hard case that can go as checked Luggage. Do I still check it in, or carry it in hand luggage. But what happens if it puts me over the 7kg limit?

Concorde1990

Concorde1990

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 65

1. ALL lithium ion batteries are to be carried in carry on ONLY. This is so that IF there is a fire it can be dealt with. Fire detection and elimination in a baggage hold is extremely difficult. (Cargo planes have special fitouts for fire detection and extermination)

2. Fly Qantas. They have a 14 kg total limit (single piece limit of 10 kg)


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