Why Aussie airline has launched MacBook ban


Australian travellers will be banned from carrying Apple MacBooks in their checked-in luggage amid fears their batteries could overheat and catch fire.

Virgin Australia will become the first Australian carrier to issue a ban on the troubled devices today following the recall of some MacBook Pro laptops in June and after worldwide confusion about how to identify and deal with affected computers.

Overseas, the recall has led to outright bans on all Apple MacBook computers as airport staff struggle to identify one silver laptop from another.

Apple announced a recall on batteries in some MacBook Pro computers made between 2015 and 2017.
Apple announced a recall on batteries in some MacBook Pro computers made between 2015 and 2017.

Virgin Australia began issuing pre-flight warnings to passengers after issuing a memo to staff late on Monday, advising them that Apple MacBooks would no longer be allowed in passengers' checked-in luggage.

A spokeswoman said the Apple computers would still be allowed to travel in guests' carry-on bags.

"The safety of our guests and crew is always our highest priority," she said.

"Due to the worldwide recall of some Apple MacBooks, we are requesting all guests take their Apple MacBooks in their carry-on luggage as a safety precaution."

Qantas did not respond to questions about the safety issue yesterday.

Apple recalled thousands of MacBook Pro computers on June 21 over a safety risk.

The company said affected computers were sold between September 2015 and February 2017.

"Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk," the company said in a statement.

"Customer safety is always Apple's top priority and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge."

The recall reportedly affects more than 460,000 computers, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

However, MacBook Pro owners will only be able to tell if their computer is affected by checking its serial number on Apple's website, leading to confusion about how to tell one silver MacBook Pro from another and how to address the issue at airports.

Some commercial helicopter companies have issued an outright ban on all Apple MacBooks, citing a lack of airport staff to inspect and check computers, while Thai Airways released a statement warning travellers to keep their older Macs at home.

"The Thai safety policy strictly prohibits passengers from bringing older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops on to Thai aircraft in carry-on bags or in checked baggage," according to a company statement.

It's not known how long the Apple MacBook travel bans will remain in place.