Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic Airways announced that it is restricting the use of Dell and Apple computers on its flights, following the recall of nearly 6 million faulty laptop batteries last month.
In August, both Dell and Apple recalled lithium-ion batteries found in certain laptop models. In some cases, the batteries overheated and caught fire. The problem batteries for both computer manufacturers were made by Sony.
Virgin cites safety concerns as the reason for the battery ban. The restrictions apply to Inspirons, Latitudes, iBooks, PowerBooks, MacBooks or MacBook Pros.
Passengers are allowed to bring these laptops onboard however the batteries must be removed, wrapped individually and placed in carry-on luggage. There is a limit of two batteries per passenger.
Travelers who want to use their batteries while in flight must use a seat-side power supply or a power cord (lead) and adaptor. If neither of these power sources is available, the passenger cannot use the computer.
Virgin is not the first airline to impose laptop restrictions, both Korean Air and Qantas are not allowing passengers to run their Dell or Apple laptops on battery power. The Korean airline ban applies to all Dell and Apple models, even those that were not affected by the recall. Both airlines allow the computers to be used with power supplied by the aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic says it is in contact with Dell and Apple and will lift the laptop restrictions once fire hazards associated with the batteries are resolved, according to the company website.
Virgin's ban wasn't the only bad news for laptop owners this week. On Tuesday, Toshiba announced a worldwide recall of 340,000 laptop batteries, citing reports of power storage problems. The company says there are no overheating issues with the batteries and they don't pose a safety threat.
The recall applies to 100,000 laptops in the United States and affects Dynabook and Satellite laptop models made between March and May of 2006. Toshiba says it has discovered that the batteries sometimes fail to recharge properly and run out of power.
Although the Toshiba batteries were made by Sony, this recall is not linked to the problems found in the Dell and Apple laptops, according to RedHerring.com. Toshiba spokesperson Yuko Sugahara told RedHerring.com that Toshiba batteries do not have the same overheating problems found in the Dell and Apple models. Even so, Toshiba decided to go ahead with a recall because of the recharging issues.
Toshiba will replace batteries in selected models for free. Information about the exchange program can be found at www.toshibadirect.com.