Print 20 comment(s) - last by crystal clear.. on Sep 24 at 10:38 AM

Virgin Atlantic says no to Dell and Apple notebooks on battery power

It appears that the ripple effects caused by the exploding battery issue that resulted in the recall of 4.1 million Dell and 1.8 million Apple notebook batteries continue to be felt. Virgin Atlantic has joined Qantas and Korea Air in banning Dell and Apple notebooks from in-flight use on battery power.

Virgin Atlantic's ban is a blanket policy that covers all Dell and Apple notebooks, not just those listed in each respective company’s recall. Here's a portion of the notice posted to the airline's website:

As a result of the current problems being experienced by the Apple and Dell Corporations with some of the batteries fitted to some of their laptops, as a safety precaution and with immediate effect, customers wanting to use an Apple or Dell laptop on board can only do so if the battery is removed. Any removed or spare batteries must be individually wrapped/protected and placed in your Carry On Baggage. This is limited to two batteries per passenger.

There is one way around this ban though. Customers who pony up for Premier Economy or Upper Class seats which feature In Seat Power Supplies (ISPS) can still use their Dell or Apple laptop sans battery. Virgin will provide power leads and adapters for passengers not so equipped.

Virgin stresses that the policy could be lifted once the batteries are no longer deemed a risk to flights. Many believe that such measures taken by airlines is simply an overreaction to isolated cases involving faulty batteries. A Dell spokesman was quoted as saying, "They could easily check out whether a laptop uses a Sony battery or other brand instead of banning them all." James Governor, an analyst for RedMonk added, "These have been very isolated incidents. I wouldn't be worrying about it, but the airlines obviously seem to be in that kind of mood at the moment."

Whether these latest policy implementations are a knee-jerk reaction or not, it’s doubtful that this is the last we'll hear of Dell and Apple notebooks being banned from in-flight use.

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Bleh about time?
By DLeRium on 9/18/06, Rating: 0
RE: Bleh about time?
By Johnmcl7 on 9/18/2006 4:10:29 PM , Rating: 3
To be honest no, for starters it's not 4.1 million laptops - many of the laptops with affected batteries will be with companies who will have replaced the batteries already. Then there's the actual proportion of people who have an affected battery AND they haven't replaced them AND they're also flying AND the battery will just happen to explode then. To put it midly, the chances are extremely narrow - you're also assuming no other piece of consumer electronics can go wrong, personally in my experience with laptops I'd be more concerned about the power supplies.

It's never going to be safe until you ban everything.


RE: Bleh about time?
By mindless1 on 9/18/2006 7:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
We don't have to care about ABSOLUTE saftey, rather mitigating it. There is not ANY worst-case-possible failure of a laptop power supply that is as bad as any or all laptop Li-Ion battery failure-fires.

Their ban may be excessive, but it is technically a correct, though too conservative, call if maintaining safest possible airlines is a priority.

Personally, I'd rather do without my laptop than all these random searches, waiting, and common item restrictions. I'd rather know everyone on the flight had toothpaste, peanut butter and toenail clippers instead of running battery powered laptops. So whether it's justified or not, it is more dangerous than the things they're already banning.

RE: Bleh about time?
By Johnmcl7 on 9/19/2006 8:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
You've clearly not seen a power supply go wrong.

You're also incorrectly assuming that only a manufacturing defect can cause a problem, there are plenty of reasons that damaged electronics can cause problems. Following your argument we should ban all electronics, not just Dell/Apple batteries.

Also, you're examples of common items that shouldn't be banned is also incorrect as I'm sure you're aware why these items were banned in the first place.


RE: Bleh about time?
By mindless1 on 9/20/2006 5:54:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I regularly repair switching supplies.

What they do not do, is produce firey explosions one after another. There is no possible failure mode as bad as the typical failures of the (Sony et al) batteries.

I did not claim any of the items listed should or shouldn't be banned, necessarily, only that _I_ would rather be sitting next to people with these common banned items than laptops. Yes a terrorist could make a bomb- and they still can out of things not banned, but I choose convenience over searches, freedom over safety, but at the same time, recall hearing of more laptops exploding than jars of peanut-butter!

RE: Bleh about time?
By Phynaz on 9/18/2006 4:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
we are letting 4.1 million laptops that can blow up and catch on fire get on a plane

Do the math, and you will figure out that we shouldn't let you on an airplane.


Because you have a nearly 300% greater chance of getting hit by lightning than my laptop battery has of burning up.

RE: Bleh about time?
By mindless1 on 9/18/2006 7:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
You are falsely assuming that the battery failure rate is a fixed % instead of recognizing that with particular faulty cells, it could be that practically ALL OF THEM end up exploding eventually if not pulled out of service (via recall, airplane ban, or whatever the method).

That is no justification to ban other laptop or (other non-laptop) Li-Ion products that have not exhibited any dangerous failure modes.

sounds knee-jerk to me
By Quiksel on 9/18/2006 12:28:58 PM , Rating: 3
Whether these latest policy implementations are a knee-jerk reaction or not, it’s doubtful that this is the last we'll hear of Dell and Apple notebooks being banned from in-flight use.

What is amazing to me is the lack of timeframe on how long this is going to last... I would love to know when they plan to reassess the situation. Seems like there are LOTS of people that have Dell or Apple laptops.

Or at least it seems that way to me. :/

RE: sounds knee-jerk to me
By kelmon on 9/18/2006 1:11:16 PM , Rating: 3
Indeed. This is definitely not only a case of bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but also something that will cost the airline money. Personally, if I was going to travel long distance then whether or not I can use my laptop on board (without needing to stump up Super Turbo First Class ticket money) will be a factor when choosing the airline to fly with.

Incidentally, following Engadget's article on an IBM ThinkPad going up in flames ( I wonder how long it will be before IBM/Levono laptops will be banned as well, regardless of whether they are a risk or not.

RE: sounds knee-jerk to me
RE: sounds knee-jerk to me
By Thepointblank on 9/18/2006 1:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
It appears that the ripple effects caused by the exploding battery issue that resulted in the recall of 4.1 million Dell and 1.8 million Apple notebook batteries continue to be felt. Virgin Atlantic has joined Quantas and Korea Air in banning Dell and Apple notebooks from in-flight use on battery power.

You guys mispelled Qantas... it does not has a "U" in it.

Other than that, the airlines are lying on the side of caution, as a fire on an airplane is almost always catastrophic, as fire and airplanes simply do not mix. See Swissair Flight 111 as an example.

By MonkeyPaw on 9/18/2006 4:07:20 PM , Rating: 4
Finally, Apple can make a commercial where "I'm a Mac" and "I'm a PC" have found something in common. :)

RE: Eutopia!
By ksherman on 9/19/2006 8:48:45 AM , Rating: 2
they did, "Mac" is also a "PC" remember :-P

By HardwareD00d on 9/18/2006 2:22:26 PM , Rating: 1
Why are they just banning Dell and Apple laptops? The exploding battery problem can affect any device containing a Lithium Ion battery. That's just retarted.

RE: iExplode
By marvdmartian on 9/18/2006 2:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'm guessing that the only batteries any virgin might be interested in would be "D" cells, right?

RE: iExplode
By mindless1 on 9/18/2006 7:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
RetarDed would be to not recognize there is a difference between any random Li-Ion failure and one where the cells themselves were defective.

The difference is one of odds. Nothing is 100.000% safe, but the airlines feel the risk of the known defective packs was high enough to consider.

I don't necessarily agree with their decision but it is not as you suggested, one of it merely being Li-Ion or not.

Note this
By crystal clear on 9/18/06, Rating: 0
RE: Note this
By mindless1 on 9/18/2006 8:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
What makes you think it's your God-given right to play with your toy on THEIR plane? They can randomly tell you to put away your box of cracker jacks too, and you better do it, because you are not your own little god on their plane.

If you don't like it, don't fly. I don't agree with their decision, but recognize they are not compelled to fly you around no matter what you "want" to do, it is a service you can accept or decline.

And YES, it is discrimination. You are short-sighted for not recognizing that some types of discrimination are GOOD. Discrimination is the act of discriminating, discriminating that some battery packs do explode.

The problem is, they've not been discriminating enough, have issued blanket bans on more products than those currently with the known bad packs in them.

So go ahead and file your charges, I hope they fine you for wasting everyone's time with your nonsense.

RE: Note this
By crystal clear on 9/24/2006 10:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
" Virgin Atlantic has updated its restrictions for the use of Apple- and Dell-branded notebook computers on its flights. The good news: the ban on battery use is no longer total - the company is now restricting only those batteries whose serial numbers are covered by the vendors' product recalls."

I did not have file charges-I got it done by a mere letter.
Its YOU who are wasting my time WITH YOUR NONSENSE.

Enough is enough!
By Sunbird on 9/19/2006 9:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
I have had it with these mother$#%&ing batteries on this mother$#%&ing plane!!!

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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