I travel a lot by air and have run into a problem with my 2016 Macbook Pro 15": it draws too much power for in-seat charging on United Airlines (75 watt max). Since my journeys have me in transit up to 30 hours at a time, this is a major productivity killer.

My 2015/2013 Macbook Pro's did not have this problem even though their power supplies were rated at 85w (18.5v/4.6a). The 2016 has an 87w (20.2v/4.3a) power requirement. I'm not really sure if that's enough of a difference to make a difference but it seems to.

Is there a way to power a 2016 MacBook Pro 15" on an airplane? I'm open to external battery options, but I can't seem to find USB-C external batteries that work with the 2016 MacBook Pro 15".

  • Are you seeing some sort of error message or other indication that it draws too much power for in-seat charging on United Airlines? Does this only occur while you're trying to use the MBP, or also if it's asleep/shutdown?
    – Monomeeth
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:22
  • I didn't get an error message - just no charging.
    – jpoveda
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:23
  • Okay. What about the difference during usage and when not in use?
    – Monomeeth
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:29
  • If I remember correctly, it did not charge when the laptop was powered off (the lack of the little green charging light is annoying on the USB-c models...)
    – jpoveda
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


All of Apple's USB C chargers will charge your 15 inch MacBook Pro. To avoid the 75 watt limitation, grab one of the 61 watt chargers.

I use the MacBook charger (29 watt - same as iPad Pro charger) for most trips due to smaller size. I run software that drains the battery in 12 hours so I don't need the faster charging rates the 61 or 87 watt adapters provide.

  • With any luck, even if you drain power at 80 watt rate, you'll deplete the battery far slower with 61 watt in and the human will tire or nap or sleep and the battery will then catch up with the Mac sleeping.
    – bmike
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:41
  • Let me see if I understand correctly. If you plug an 87W plug into a 75W airplane outlet, you'll get no power flowing to your 15" Touch Bar MBP. But if you plug a 61W charger into it, you'll get some power which will help the battery to drain more slowly. Is that right? Can anyone confirm? Jul 21, 2017 at 2:57
  • @CliftonLabrum basically, yes. The 87w is likely to trip the breaker. If that happens, you get no power until it resets. The 61w is nearly enough power for all needs. Much better in my book than some power - more like most power without significant risk of no power
    – bmike
    Jul 21, 2017 at 3:23
  • 1
    I ended up using the 61w adapter from West Coast to East Coast (USA) then from Newark to Mumbai and it worked like a charm. I used the PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C while I was puddle jumping within India since the airline I was using there didn't have inseat power. It all worked perfect. The 87w was in my luggage the entire time.
    – jpoveda
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:06

While I prefer bmike's suggestion on using an Apple USB C charger, below are a number of Non-Apple suggestions you may want to check out:

NOTE: I am not affiliated with any of these products.

  • I read a number of reports that the PowerCore+ would not work with the MBP 2016 15", but upon further googling, it looks like it might: techieio.com/15-best-usb-c-accessories-for-macbook-pro -- thanks for the heads up.
    – jpoveda
    Apr 30, 2017 at 23:45
  • I bought a PowerCore+ 20100 and it is charging my MBP 15" 2016 while I use it. It's showing a 15w charge rate. I'll combine this as my backup on legs where I don't have in-seat power with the 61 watt or 29 watt options mentioned by @bmiike above. I'm good to go! ;)
    – jpoveda
    May 2, 2017 at 6:54
  • That's great! And thanks for coming back to share your results. That's what makes this site so very useful to so many people! :)
    – Monomeeth
    May 2, 2017 at 7:01

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