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FAA Bans Recalled MacBook Pro on Flights

Most business travelers keep their laptops within reach at all times. Which is why this recently announced ban from the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) may throw some frequent fliers into a tailspin. With concerns of battery issues, the FAA, along with other government organizations and airlines, will no longer allow some 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops onboard flights.

Apple’s MacBook Pro Recall

In June, Apple announced a recall of their 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017. The reason for the recall? The lithium battery of affected laptops can overheat, potentially leading to swelling or even igniting. 

FAA and other airlines ban

This is not the first time the FAA has banned specific consumer electronics on airlines. You probably remember in 2016, when Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7s had a similar issues. According to FAA’s safety guidelines, electronics with recalled batteries should not be allowed as cargo or in carry-on luggage. These affected laptops should not be anywhere on the aircraft, including below in cargo. This ban also includes flights traveling to or from the United States.

Other countries and specific airlines have issued statements, with varying stances. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency will allow the laptops to be on the flight, but they must be turned off. Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways have banned the laptop from both checked luggage and carry-on bags. Quantas, on the other hand, states all 15-inch MacBookPros, including those without a defective battery,  should be carried in the cabin and turned off during the flight. Virgin Australia also stated that all MacBooks must be placed in carry-on baggage only.

What should you do if you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro?

Fortunately, Apple has made their recall process easy. To see if your laptop is affected, go to their recall page  and enter your laptop’s serial number. 

If your laptop battery has been recalled, their website provides information on their easy battery replacement process. If it is a computer provided by your company, you may also want to notify your IT department.

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Travel Industry Travel News

Laptop Ban Affects Business Travels

Business travelers, who utilize flight time to catch up on work and email, will be disrupted by the recent announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security. Dubbed the ‘laptop ban’, large electronic devices will not be allowed as carry-on when flying non-stop to the U.S. from 10 international airports.

What are these 10 international airports?

  • Jordan – Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Egypt – Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Turkey – Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • Saudi Arabia – King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) & King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait – Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Morocco – Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Qatar – Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • United Arab Emirates – Dubai International Airport (DXB) & Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

What airlines fly non-stop to the U.S.?

  • Royal Jordanian
  • EgyptAir
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Moroc
  • Qatar Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

Regulations of the new ‘Laptop Ban’

The aviation security enhancements are for all U.S. bound flights from these 10 airports. It  requires that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage.  Large electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and electronic games can no longer be used in-flight. The ban does not effect the flight returning from the U.S. back to these countries.

Increased security was needed, based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from these 10 airports. Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff,  said “These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat. The global aviation system remains a top target and proper security requires that we continually adapt our defenses.”

The nine airlines affected have until early Friday morning to implement necessary changes. If an airline ignores enforcement, security officials will ask the Federal Aviation Administration to revoke the airline’s certificate to fly in the U.S.

Great Britain has followed the U.S. with a similar announcement.  Their ban specifies dimensions of electronics not allowed as carry-on. The U.K. ban focuses on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Canada may be following with their own electronic ban as well.

No time frame has been given on this change. The DHS has said in “will remain in place until the threat changes”. Additional airports could also be added at any time.

Business travel industry reaction to the ban

While safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, this ban comes as a jolt and inconvenience to business travelers. A complete halt in business productivity is one criticism, but additional safety concerns are another.

One possible matter is the increased risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo hold. These fires would be hard to contain early or even reach.

Another criticism is theft or damage to checked items. There is a reason we keep the most expensive and important items close to us while traveling. Most of us have experienced lost or damaged baggage, and even theft. Without your protection, your items are open to anyone. Speaking of which, this regulation will potentially leave confidential company business exposed while valuable information housed on laptops are checked.

Having flown on Emirate’s Airlines and experienced their exceptional in-flight entertainment, I appreciated their prompt and creative response to the ban, with their “Let Us Entertain You” video on Twitter.

Business traveler tips for the laptop ban

Regardless of in-flight entertainment options, the need to mitigate risk will be an inconvenience that travelers need to be prepared for in advance of their departure from the impacted airports.

  • Back up everything and save it to the cloud, just in case of theft or damage.
  • Add everything you need to your phone – movies, games, podcast, email, etc.
  • Bring those ‘back burner’ tasks you never seem to get to normally – whitepapers, recommended books, research, etc.
  • Buy an external keyboard that can be connected to your phone, making typing less of pain and increase productivity.
  • Consider changing flights from a non-stop to one-stop flights.