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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 9/18/2006 3:07:55 PM , Rating: 0
Don't you think it's about time that they do this? I mean it's ridiculous we're banning toothpaste, eyedrops, contact lens solution, etc. and here we are letting 4.1 million laptops that can blow up and catch on fire get on a plane when we arleady ban everything else...

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.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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