Airlines Are Banning MacBooks in Checked Luggage Regardless of Recall Status

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty)

Following an Apple notice that a “limited number” of 15-inch MacBook Pros may have faulty batteries that could potentially create a fire safety risk, multiple airlines have barred transporting Apple laptops in their checked luggage—in some cases, regardless of whether they fall under the recall.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia had joined the growing list of airlines enforcing policies around the MacBook Pros. In a statement by email, a spokesperson for Qantas told Gizmodo that “[u]ntil 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.”

Virgin Australia, meanwhile, said in a “Dangerous Goods” notice on its website that any MacBook model “must be placed in carry-on baggage only. No Apple MacBooks are permitted in checked in baggage until further notice.”

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Apple in June announced a voluntary recall program for the affected models of 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro, which it said were sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple said at the time it would fix affected models for free, adding that “[c]ustomer safety is always Apple’s top priority.”

Apple did not immediately return a request for comment about airline policies implemented in response to the recall.

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Both Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways also recently instituted policies around the MacBook Pros. In a statement on its website over the weekend, Singapore Airlines said that passengers are prohibited from bringing affected models on its aircraft either in their carry-ons or in their checked luggage “until the battery has been verified as safe or replaced by the manufacturer.”

Bloomberg previously reported that airlines TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat also introduced bans on the laptops. The cargo activity of all four is managed by Total Cargo Expertise, which reportedly said in an internal notice to its staff that the affected devices are “prohibited on board any of our mandate carriers.”

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Both the Federal Aviation Administration and European Union Aviation Safety Agency said they had contacted airlines following Apple’s announcement regarding the recall. The FAA said that it alerted U.S. carriers to the issue in July.

Apple allows MacBook users to see if their devices are affected by inputting a serial number. While checking individual serial numbers for each and every device that comes through security checkpoints has the potential to slow service, banning all MacBooks either outright or in the cabin seems like a severe overreaction and, to be honest, a gigantic pain in the ass for customers.

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