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I called Apple's toll free number but wasn't able to get a clear answer from them.

My 2011 MacBook Air's battery is dying and I would like to have it replaced. The only problem is that I am traveling abroad soon (in 3 days). If I go to an Apple Store to have it replaced, will they do it on site such that I can get my laptop back right away, or will they keep my laptop for a few days to replace the battery?

When I was talking to a rep on the phone, he recommended that I just go to the store and get the problem assessed. But the closest Apple store is about an hour away...Thanks!

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You should get the problem assessed. it is not normal for a battery to die after 1 -1/2 years. They should last 5 years. Is your charger working ? –  Jadav Mar 29 '13 at 15:04
    
Yes. My charger is working - or I think it is working. Yeah. I am really annoyed with this. The "replace soon" notification actually showed up 8 months ago ago. My old unibody macbook from several years ago only started giving me this warning last year. "About this mac" says that there are 1200 + charge cycles...Not sure what the odds are that I can get it replaced for free...But then $129 for replacement isn't too bad –  Alex Mar 29 '13 at 15:16
    
The 11 inch Air do run their batteries very hard and long. Even if 95% of the batteries make it to 1000 cycles, there are some that fail before that. It's great you made it 20% longer than the design life and you'll come out ahead over buying AppleCare even if you blow through two battery swaps in the first 3 years. Also, AppleCare might not even cover a battery that is consumed (past it's design life) so even with that, you'd likely pay for the part/service. –  bmike Mar 29 '13 at 16:35
    
The sad part is a) phone support should have asked if you had questions and explained better b) if you had presented it for service 8 months ago - had the checkout failed then, you might have gotten a replacement on Apple's warranty - but you've probably realized that by now. I'd ask the genius (after you're done with their estimate process) to check the prior call notes. Ask if the phone notes should have offered mail in service to avoid the 2 hour drive. I wouldn't be pushy, just mention you still had lots of questions after the call and wonder if you should have done anything different. –  bmike Mar 29 '13 at 16:38
    
Please answer the question: what is discharging your battery so you have to fully charge it (2) twice a day? That's is what your numbers show. –  Jadav Mar 29 '13 at 21:34
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes - all computer batteries from Apple (including the newer unibody models where the battery is not consumer replaceable) are easily swapped in a 10 minute procedure to open, inspect, replace, test and document the repair.

Of course, your wait time might be longer if no one is free to start work immediately or the part needs to be retrieved from a nearby stock room. If the part isn't in stock, Apple should be able to quote you a delivery time to order the part, and discuss if you want to leave the Mac for service, choose mail in service or leave with your mac and return later to get the repair done as same- or next-day service once the part and the Mac are in the shop together.

Since you called AppleCare and explained your symptoms, my guess is they cannot run the diagnostics remotely to establish a true failure (or if you agree to pay for the repair) and pre-order the part before you present the Mac for repair in the store.

My experience is each store has sufficient stock to do several repairs of a battery type, but that being said, I've also gone in on a busy day where they had three machines needing the same part as I and I was the third in line and therefore had the option of leaving the Mac or waiting for the part to arrive.

Worst case, you get a diagnosis and don't leave the machine in for repair, but have options to pre-order the part when you return or find another store. If the store mails in your Mac for repair, often it can get overnighted to a return location of your choosing and clearly wherever they ship the machine will be same day service for an in-stock battery at the main repair depot.

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I ended up going to the closest Apple Store yesterday. That particular location did not have the battery but I was told that there was another store within 30 miles that did, and a genius talked to that store on the phone to see if they could do the replacement quickly, and was told that they could finish the replacement by the end of today (Saturday). But because I need my laptop this morning for a video conference call, I decided to request a service after I come back from my trip. –  Alex Mar 30 '13 at 13:47
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There is a problem with your MBA if a battery gets drained too fast after 1-1/2years or 600 days. Getting a new battery won't solve that problem.

Open Activity Monitor and look at CPU usage. It should go to zero if you are not doing anything. If not there is your problem, but I cannot answer what to do, till you tell us what.

Check your charger, making sure the battery is 100% before disconnecting.

Discharge the battery overnight, see instructions http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html.

Go to the apple store, with an appointment, they will replace it in an hour, for $130 or so.

If you are handy with screwdriver there are DIY on the web for that.

Now to my question:. How the heck did you get 1200 cycles in 600 days?.

A charge cycle means using all of the battery’s power, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a single charge. For instance, you could use your notebook for an hour or more one day, using half its power, and then recharge it fully. If you did the same thing the next day, it would count as one charge cycle, not two, so it may take several days to complete cycle.

What this says in your case, you had 2 cycles per day? (600x2=1200)

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I would disagree with the statement that it's not normal for a battery to die after 2 years. The OP has commented that they are at 1200 full charge cycles which is well past the point where you would expect it to begin to fail. Just like tires on a vehicle, when the tread is worn away, it's time to replace them. Even under light use, rubber oxidizes and will fail in time (like an unused battery fails whether you use it or not). In this case, the OP got the full life out of the battery (it's still running things 1200 cycles later but has the "check engine" light on.) –  bmike Mar 29 '13 at 16:38
    
@bmike, let me ignore your statement for a while, since something does not make sense in the numbers and thank your negative vote = discouraging someone who is trying to help the best way he know how. –  Jadav Mar 29 '13 at 21:24
    
Thanks for the reply. As things stand, you have two down votes and one up vote. I like your answer much better since the edit. The blanket statement on "not normal" seemed too misleading to go without a comment. I agree you are not only trying to help, but that you are helping here. I can't guess why two people down voted your question since voting is anonymous, even to mods. Perhaps they feel you are answering some other question than what the OP is asking. The question seems focused on the window to get a Mac repaired and not so much everything about learning how batteries fails to me. –  bmike Mar 30 '13 at 15:21
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