MacBook Pros Banned From Flights: Find Out if Yours is Affected

Do you own a 2015 MacBook Pro? If so, leave it at home the next time you travel, or face the wrath of the TSA.

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned certain MacBook Pro models on flights because of faulty batteries that pose a fire risk. Banned models include 15-inch MacBook Pros from 2015 sold between September 2015 and February 2017, or some hundreds of thousands of units.

The FAA stated that it was "aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops" and is now working with major U.S. airlines to enforce safety guidelines for products with recalled batteries by ensuring that passengers don't take them on flights as carry-on luggage or cargo. 

That's the bad news. The good news is that Apple issued a voluntary recall on these models in June, stating that it had “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 is now offering battery replacements for the affected units free of charge. 

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) determined the number of affected units to be about 460,000, of which 26,000 were sold in Canada.

Apple supposedly received "26 reports of the laptop’s battery overheating, including five reports of minor burns and one report of smoke inhalation, as well as 17 reports of minor damage to nearby personal property."

Determining whether a MacBook Pro falls under this ban could be a headache for travelers and airport security. There is no easy way to identify specific MacBook Pro models from just looking at them, and they're all practically identical aesthetically. So to prove that your MacBook Pro isn't a safety risk, you'll need to turn the laptop on, log in, and show them what model you own from the “About This Mac" page. If you don't own a 15-inch model sold between 2015 and 2017, then they'll let you on through, at which point you'll likely have to sprint to your gate. 

Is Your MacBook Pro Affected?

You'll need to look up the serial number of your laptop to determine whether your MacBook Pro is flight eligible. 

Apple released a tool as part of its recall program that will tell you if your MacBook Pro needs a new battery. Just go to this webpage and type in your serial number in the search blank under "Eligibility." To identify your serial number, go to the "About this Mac" page from the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen. This process requires you to turn on your potentially dangerous computer, so we recommend you proceed with caution.

If your laptop is determined to be covered under the recall, go to your local Apple store and get the folks in blue to replace it for free. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.