Nathalie Lieckfeld/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

FAA bans MacBook Pros with recalled batteries from flying

Your laptop might be grounded. The Federal Aviation Administration is banning some MacBook Pro models from being brought on flights, according to a report from Bloomberg. The affected models, which have already been recalled by Apple, suffer from an issue that makes their batteries a fire risk.

While the restrictions haven't been made public, an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg indicated that four major airlines are barring affected MacBook Pros from being brought onto aircrafts. TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy and Air Transat — all four of which have their cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise — have placed the ban. All American airlines have been alerted to the issue and may also take action to prevent the laptops from being taken on flights. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also issued a warning regarding the potential threat of the laptops and their faulty batteries earlier this month.

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the FAA is starting to view MacBook Pros that, by Apple's account, may "pose a safety risk" with skepticism. The agency tweeted out following the announcement of Apple's recall efforts that "recalled batteries don't fly." The agency has previously taken efforts to keep devices with faulty batteries off flights, as well. Most notably, the FAA banned Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones from being brought on board aircrafts because of their tendency to explode.

Under the new ban, the FAA is asking that 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina Displays that were sold between September 2015 and February 2017 be kept off of planes. Those are the same models that were recalled by Apple in June 2019. If your laptop is identified as "MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)," it may be part of the FAA's new restrictions.

Luckily, you can use Apple's tool for determining if your computer is part of its recall in order to find out if it is also banned from flights. Just visit the Apple support site and enter your serial number, which can be found by clicking on the Apple menu marked by the Apple icon on the upper-left corner of your MacBook Pro's screen, then clicking on About This Mac. If Apple indicates that your MacBook Pro is part of the recall, you'll want to leave it at home the next time you travel.

You'll also probably want to just stop using the device, in general. It is a pretty serious fire risk. Look no further than some of the videos that have been posted online of the laptop model catching fire. Musician White Panda shared a video of his 2015 MacBook Pro turning into a ball of fire and smoke from nothing more than "normal use," by his account. The battery explosion was enough to set off both the smoke and CO alarms in his home. That should be about all information you need to understand why the FAA doesn't want these devices on planes. An explosion like that in the small, contained cabin of an aircraft could have some very real, damaging effects on both the plane and the passengers.

If your laptop is part of the recall, you can get the battery replaced for free, courtesy of Apple. You can go through an Apple Authorized Service Provider located near you, take your device to an Apple Retail Store to have them handle the machine or contact Apple Support and arrange to mail your laptop directly to the company. In all cases, your laptop will be sent off to an Apple facility to be fixed. Your device still might face scrutiny from some airlines because of the issue, but you'll be able to safely use it again without concerns that it's going to suddenly burst into flames right in front of you.