The FAA grounds MacBook Pros after Apple issues a recall

Bad news for anyone who depends on a MacBook Pro while they’re on the road. 

Laptop cabin baggage ban
Last month, the FAA reminded passengers to avoid carrying recalled batteries on flights until they've been repaired or replaced. Image by Lauren Hurley/PA Images via Getty Images

After Apple issued a recall of some older generation 15-inch MacBook Pros in June, citing a defective battery that could overheat and catch fire, the US Federal Aviation Administration banned them from travel in carry-on and checked baggage to ward off potential disasters. Last week, the agency said it “is aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In early July, we alerted airlines about the recall, and we informed the public. We issued reminders to continue to follow instructions about recalls,” according to a statement obtained by USA Today

MacBooks in store
In June, Apple announced a recall of a some 432,000 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017, citing fears that the battery could overheat and catch fire. Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So far, only the affected models—listed as MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) and mostly sold between September 2015 and February 2017—have been grounded. Users whose computers fit that description can check their serial number with Apple to see if they’re owed a new battery, which will be provided either at a retail store or via mail-in repair. “Customer safety is always Apple's top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge,” the company wrote on its site. 

Apple MacBook recall
Apple has offered to replace batteries in the affect models for free, and after that they should be good to fly. Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While the FAA recommends contacting your airline for guidance before traveling to the airport, the computers in question should be cleared for takeoff once they’ve gone through the replacement process. But it only makes sense to pack the requisite documentation to avoid potential snafus at security, especially since some carriers have opted to prohibit the problematic units entirely. Last week, as Bloomberg News reported, “four airlines with cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise — TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat — implemented a ban, barring the laptops from being brought onto the carriers’ planes as cargo, according to an internal notice.”

Per Bloomberg, some 432,000 units in the US and 26,000 in Canada were included in the recall, according to a Canadian notice from June. According to the FAA’s PackSafe page, recalled batteries or devices are not allowed on flights, either in cabin luggage or stowed underneath in cargo, and some airlines don't allow luggage with built-in lithium batteries to fly at all.