Virgin Bans “Fire Hazard” Laptops

September 18, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Apple and Dell laptop owners travelling on Virgin Atlantic international flights are being asked to remove the gadget's batteries before take-off. This will limit laptop use as the majority of seats on Virgin jets are not fitted with power sockets. The decision comes in the wake of reports that some laptop batteries could be a fire hazard, bringing to three the number of airlines that have placed restrictions on Dell and Apple laptops.

In mid-August Dell announced a recall of more than 4 million laptop batteries made by Sony. A manufacturing fault had made some machines using these batteries catch fire. In late August Apple recalled 1.8 million batteries also made by Sony also thought to be a fire-risk. Following the recalls, Virgin Atlantic has said passengers taking any Dell or Apple laptop on to its international flights can only use it during the journey with the battery removed. The removed batteries must be wrapped up and protected and placed in carry-on baggage. Each passenger can only take on board two batteries. All seats in Virgin's Upper Class sections are supplied with power sockets allowing travellers in these cabins to plug in their laptop. Also some seats in Premium Economy in some newer Virgin aircraft also have power supplies. In seats where there is no socket, laptop use is banned.

"Virgin is in communication with Apple and Dell. As soon as this safety issue is resolved these restrictions will be lifted," said the airline in its statement announcing the policy. The decision means that three airlines, Virgin, Qantas and Korean Air, restrict the use of these laptops.