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MacBook laptop flight ban may herald wider crackdown

August 28, 2019 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Apple’s popular MacBook Pro laptops are often used during flights in Australia – but now they must be switched off in aircraft cabins and they are not permitted to be packed in checked baggage.

The ban comes as Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) considers pushing for harsh penalties  – including fines of up to AUD 10,000 – on passengers carrying potentially hazardous items.

Apple announced in June “a voluntary recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk”.

The laptops were sold between September 2015 and February 2017 and can be identified by their product serial number, according to the company’s notice.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) then acted.

“The FAA 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,” the FAA said in an statement carried by National Public Radio in the US.

“We issued reminders to continue to follow instructions about recalls outlined in the 2016 FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 16011, and provided information provided to the public on FAA’s Packsafe website: https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/,” the FAA stated.

Singapore’s Straits Times reported on Monday that Singapore Airlines and some other airlines had banned Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops from all flights.

The ban has now spread to Australia, with Qantas and Virgin Australia enforcing it.

“All Apple MacBook Pros must be carried in cabin baggage and switched off for flight following a recall notice issued by Apple,” a joint statement by Qantas and Virgin stated, as cited by News.com.au

Sparklers – already banned in checked baggage

 

The ban will inconvenience many business travellers. It raises serious questions. Will airline staff be able to tell the difference between the MacBook Pro and the similar-looking MacBook Air? Both are silver laptops with an Apple logo on the front – they look identical while closed and are hard to tell apart without an inspection. Also, how are check-in or airline staff to know whether the battery in a suspect laptop has been replaced with a safe one?

There seems to be some confusion. Virgin Australia states on its site: “Due to a worldwide recall by Apple of a number of Apple MacBook batteries, ALL Apple MacBooks must be placed in carry-on baggage only. No Apple MacBooks are permitted in checked in baggage until further notice.”

Virgin capitalises the word ALL to emphasise it – yet the Apple recall applies only to the MacBook Pro, not the MacBook Air.

Some airlines go further and won’t allow MacBook Pros aboard at all. Thai Airways stated: “Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announced that in accordance with European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations, passengers are not allowed to take older generation of 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops supplied by Apple Inc. between September 2015 and February 2017, which is under the battery recall program by the manufacturer, on board all flights or in checked baggage.” The full Thai statement may be read here.

CASA meanwhile is reported to be beefing up penalties for infractions, with on-the-spot fines of between AUD 6000 and AUD 10,000 under consideration if forbidden items such as party poppers or sparklers are found in luggage.

Items forbidden on aircraft include insect spray in aerosol cans, bleach and oven cleaner, party poppers, sparklers, firelighters and self-balancing or hoverboards.

CASA is seeking public submissions on the proposal, saying “the ability to issue fines to passengers will also assist in lifting the level of awareness of dangerous goods, and the risks they present when carried on board an aircraft or when hidden by passengers in checked-in baggage,” according to The Australian.

The paper reported that CASA also wants airlines to introduce a “mandatory challenge” to passengers about whether they have dangerous goods in their luggage.

MacBook Pro – now banned in checked baggage, must be switched off in flight

Under the proposed change, check-in staff would be compelled by law to ask every passenger about the contents of their luggage before domestic and international flights. That sometimes happens already, but this would make it heavier and compulsory.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Andrew says:

    “Check in staff”?

    What check in staff????

    95% of people use the “self-check in” kiosks now. Which means just another box to tick amongst the usual legaleaze.

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