Julian Elliott, a British travel photographer is “trapped” in Vietnam because the national airline will not allow him to fly with his Apple MacBook Pro.
Julian Elliott was invited to photograph the country for a Vietnamese travel company.
He flew from Paris to Ho Chi Minh City on Air France with a 15-inch MacBook Pro in his cabin baggage.
According to a report by Simon Calder on The Independent, the laptop maker has warned purchasers: “Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk.”
The manufacturer is offering customers free battery replacements. Meanwhile, airlines and safety regulators have imposed a wide range of inconsistent policies.
Some airlines have been telling passengers with these devices that they must not carry the laptop as checked baggage, nor switch it on in the aircraft cabin.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has banned all 15-inch MacBook Pro computers that were sold between September 2015 and February 2017. The prohibition applies to all commercial flights from and within the country, regardless of whether the device is in cabin baggage or hold luggage.
Yet Mr Elliott successfully made two domestic flights on Vietnam Airlines wile carrying the computer.
Before the first flight, from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, he says: “At security they asked to look at the serial number of my laptop. They checked extensively and told me that it was fine.”
The same happened on the second flight, from the Vietnamese capital to Da Nang.
But when he began his journey back to Europe, he says, the laptop was suddenly suspect.
“At first they said ‘don’t switch it on during the flight’. But then security decided to say a flat ‘no’ to me taking it on the aircraft.”
A manager suggested that he left the laptop behind in Vietnam with a friend. “It is not going to happen as I absolutely need my laptop to work, book accommodation, etc,” he said.
“With my flight departed Vietnam Airlines refused to find me any accommodation. I had to rely on the Vietnamese travel company who invited me here to find me somewhere to stay, which thankfully they did.”
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Mr Elliott said: “You have to wonder that if an airline deems this so important that it should be communicated to all passengers who have tickets for travel. But at no stage was this done before my journey and twice during my journey my laptop was deemed safe to fly.”
Neither he nor The Independent has been able to identify any warnings on the Vietnam Airlines website about the suspect MacBook.
He is now waiting for the battery to be replaced, which could take up to two weeks. The replacement part must be flown in from Singapore.
The photographer took advantage of the visa-on-arrival option for Vietnam, but with the permit about to expire he had to spend an additional US$65 (£52) to extend his stay.
Mr Elliott was due to fly to Romania on Monday 30 September for another job, but has had to postpone the visit.
“There could be worse places to be stuck but right now I have no idea if my travel insurance will cover this sort of thing.”
The Independent has asked Vietnam Airlines for a response.
Lithium-ion batteries have been implicated in a number of fires on board aircraft, and bans were imposed for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.