Bad news if you’re planning to travel with an Apple MacBook Pro in India — the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which regulates all civilian flights in the country, has issued a notice requesting passengers to not carry these laptops in flights, whether as carry-on baggage, or checked-in baggage, until the battery has been verified as safe by the manufacturer.
Phonecalls to Apple’s communications team in India had not elicited any response at the time of writing.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there’s a chance that devices sold between September 2015 and February 2017 could overheat and potentially cause fires. In June this year, the US CPSC had posted a notice of a recall on certain laptops by Apple.
This recall involves certain Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro laptop computers. The latest models are not affected — you can easily tell them apart because the older models had two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3 ports, and one HDMI port, while the new models give you only USB-C ports.
Even if you have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), you might still not be affected. Apple has set up a page to check the serial number of your laptop to confirm if you’re affected or not. The serial number can be found on the underside of the laptop computer or by choosing “About This Mac” from the Apple menu.
The bigger challenge, if you’re flying in India, might be proving to the authorities that your laptop is in fact “safe” — the note from DGCA states:
Consequent upon the recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops by Apple Inc (sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017) due to fears that their batteries may overheat and pose a safety risk, DGCA requests all air passengers not to fly with the affected models either as hand-baggage or checked-in baggage until the battery has been verified/certified as safe or replaced by the manufacturer.
This brings to mind the ban on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone, which also faced a recall because the phones were catching fire on flights. Samsung replaced phones after the news broke but then, even the replacements ended up catching fire. So, reasonably enough, there was a large-scale recall.
Airlines have banned the phone on flights, and even today, three years later, you’ll find signs in some Indian airports telling people that they cannot fly with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. You also can’t fly with power-banks in your check-in baggage, for much the same reason, though these are allowed on most flights in the luggage you keep with you. Presumably, if a battery catches fire in your pocket you’ll be able to put it out before there’s any real damage to the plane.
India’s not alone in banning people from flying with affected MacBook Pros. Earlier this month, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) also banned the use of select MacBook Pros in flights according to Reuters. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also asked operators from EASA member states and foreign operators flying into, within or out of Europe to take safety precautions on older 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops.
Apple has not issued an official response yet.