More airlines ban Apple MacBook Pros in checked luggage

Apple's 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models
Apple’s 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models

Following a ban of ALL Apple MacBooks in checked luggage by Virgin Australia, more airlines are now banning Apple MacBook Pros in checked luggage.

Angus Whitley for Bloomberg:

Restrictions on MacBook Pro laptops on flights spread, with Qantas Airways Ltd. barring some models from checked-in luggage on concern that batteries could catch fire.

All 15-inch versions of Apple Inc.’s MacBook Pro must be carried in the cabin and switched off, Qantas said in a statement Wednesday. The rule went into effect Tuesday morning… Australia’s two biggest airlines join a growing list of carriers and jurisdictions across the world cracking down on the portable computers out of concern some could self-combust.

The models in question are some 15-inch MacBook Pros sold from September 2015 to February 2017.

Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Thai Airways International PCL have already stopped passengers from taking any of the affected models on their aircraft.

MacDailyNews Take: Unfortunately, telling affected models from unaffected/fixed units is problematic for airlines and can affect customers who are carrying any Apple MacBook/Air/Pro notebook.

11 Comments

  1. And what is Tim Cook (you know, the guy who just got $115 million is stock for doing such a superb job) doing about this issue? This could become a significant problem for all MacBook users if Apple does nothing about it. With airlines going from only specific models being refused in baggage to the extreme of some airlines supposedly refusing to let ANY MacBook on the plane in any manner, this could evolve into a nightmare for those of us that use a MacBook models (in my case a Pro) and travel by air.

    I travel a fair amount (but probably a lot less than some). Am I going to have to switch to a Windows (or Unix) based laptop when I travel? Or to keep from breaking out in hives using a Windows machine must I now travel by rail or car?

    Tim, where’s your solution for this?

    1. The solution is to identify the small number of MacBooks that might have received the bad batteries and publicize an offer to replace them for free, while assuring the public that the problem did not involve all 15-inch MacBook Pros or any Macs of any other model.

      Tim Cook has done that. He cannot control what the FAA or airlines do with the information that almost all MacBooks were safe originally and the few that might not have been OK are safe once the batteries are replaced. I assume that Apple, like everybody else, is working on alternative technology for future batteries that will make them safer. In the meantime, Apple products (apart from those recalled but not yet repaired) are as safe as any other portable device on the market.

  2. This is just a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the airlines. Exactly how many MacBooks have had a problem? Exactly how many flights have been affected by this problem? How many of this MacBooks bursting into flames have you heard about? A tempest in a teapot. You show your proof from apple at security and walk through. Apple has already done its bit. Utter nonsense.

    1. Airplane manufacturers have to prove to the global regulators that no failure can cause a catastrophic event (death) with a mathematical probability greater than 1 in a billion. Airlines have to follow processes to ensure that level of safety for the life of the airplane.

      You can take small lithium ion batteries on board because if it has a thermal runaway, flight attendants have a fireproof box to stash your smoldering gadget. They did so when Samsung devices were burning and Apple fanboys were cheering. You cannot reliably put out a lithium ion battery with common extinguishers.

      So Apple has choices. They can prove via tests that their batteries can meet regulation, or they can innovate with a new cargo fire suppression system that can detect and perfectly extinguish the mathematic equivalent of 999999/1000000 battery fires started inside baggage which itself is literally full of flammable clothing and stuff. Then airlines can prove safe flying to the general public that takes all this for granted.

      I would not recommend that you hold your breath waiting for Apple to save you from the inconvenience of carrying your MacBook. The battery problems have been driven primarily by Apple’s silly thinness design meme and, yes, Apple sourcing to the same Chinese battery makers that Samsung uses, in order to hit cost targets. These batteries furthermore have NEVER been designed for tamperproofness.

      Alternatively, if you don’t like aviation safety regulations and processes, please propose what is good enough safety for you and send that to Congress for Mcconnell to sit on.

      I probably shouldn’t have to state the obvious, but the TSA security charade that has destroyed the enjoyment of flying can easily be thwarted by a coordinated effort by baddies flying several production laptops in the cargo bay with “damaged” production batteries. No special skill required to rig batteries take down the next flight.

      Bottom line: carry your laptop and stop whining.

  3. What I don’t understand is why it’s ok to bring the allegedly affected machine on the plane if it’s in your carry-on but NOT if you check it in to the luggage hold?!?

  4. I would never check in my Macbook. I don’t know who does that if you have seen how bagagge handlers…well, “handle” your baggage. Then the risk that it might be stolen. 2 reasons why I would never do that.

    Of course it is obvious that you can put out a fire easier in the cabin than in the belly of the plane.

    But that suddenly ALL Macbooks seem to be a risk is somehow over exaggeration on part of the airlines. Boeing can “lose” 2 jets full of passengers until something is done but everybody is scared by Macbook batteries. Seems strange to me.

    That being said:
    Although only Macbooks from 2015 (pre-Thunderbolt 3) were affected officially: today I brought my Macbook Pro Late 2016 to the Apple store because of a swollen battery that bent the keyboard/trackpad and the bottom. This is second time I brought it to the Apple store after the SSD was DOA. So the only thing left from its original state is the display. 😉

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