If you're planning to take your Apple MacBook Pro on your next flight, you might be in for a hassle at the airport. 

That's because a recall involving the battery sold with hundreds of thousands of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops has led to a number of airlines and aviation regulatory authorities banning the computers from aircraft. 

Apple recalled over 450,000 of the laptops sold in the United States and Canada back in June because faltering batteries could overheat and create a fire hazard. 

This move triggered a Federal Aviation Administration rule in the U.S. that effectively bans the recalled MacBooks from all flights -- both in carry-on and checked bags -- unless the original battery has been replaced.

According to FAA guidelines:

"Lithium batteries recalled by the manufacturer/vendor must not be carried aboard aircraft or packed in baggage. Battery-powered devices recalled because of lithium battery safety concerns also should not be carried aboard aircraft or packed in baggage unless the device or its battery has been replaced, repaired or otherwise made safe per manufacturer/vendor instructions. The FAA and your airline may offer further public guidance on individual recalled products."

The affected computers were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017, according to a release put out by Apple back when the voluntary recall was initiated in June.

Apple has set up a page where you can check your MacBook's serial number to see if it is affected by the recall and eligible for a replacement battery. 

It's not exactly clear how to prove to airport security that you've had your recalled battery replaced, so it's probably a good idea to print out a copy of all paperwork associated with the replacement and bring it with you for your flight. 

While the recall is now two months old, some airlines and authorities are just now taking action as word of the potential safety issue has spread. On Sunday, Singapore Airlines banned the older MacBooks unless "the battery has been verified as safe or replaced by the manufacturer."

Thai Airways appears to have just flat-out banned older MacBook Pros.

"Passengers are not allowed to take older generation of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops supplied by Apple Inc. between September 2015 and February 2017, which is under the battery recall program by the manufacturer, on board all flights or in checked baggage," reads the notice from August 21, which does not make clear if there is an exception for laptops that have had their recalled batteries swapped out.

If you have a flight coming up soon and plan to bring an older MacBook Pro, whether it has a bad battery or has been replaced, it's probably a good idea to check in with your airline beforehand to learn what their procedures are. In the worst case scenario, you may need to ship your laptop to your final destination if you can't get it past strict airport security.

Published on: Aug 26, 2019
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