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Virgin eases laptop ban

Tash Shifrin

The Virgin Atlantic airline has lifted its ban on battery powered Dell and Apple laptops – but passengers must still have battery serial numbers checked to ensure they are not from a batch hit by a fire hazard warning.

The ban was imposed by Virgin earlier this month after Dell and Apple recalled nearly six million batteries between them after a small number of machines caught fire. The faulty batteries in both Dell and Apple machines were made by Sony.

The move followed similar bans by Australian airline Qantas and Korean Air.

In new advice to passengers, Virgin is now permitting laptop battery use, where cabin crew members have checked that the battery serial number does not match any of the recalled batches.

But batteries must be removed from laptops if they have been identified by Apple or Dell as being a fire risk. Passengers with airline seats fitted with power supplies would be offered leads and adaptors, but laptop use would remain entirely prohibited for passengers with fire hazard batteries where in-seat power supplies were not available, Virgin said.

But concern over laptop batteries is continuing, with Lenovo investigating a laptop fire at Los Angeles airport last week that caused panic amid fears of a bomb attack. Lenovo said the machine was a ThinkPad T43 but did not confirm whether it was powered by a Sony battery.

Last week, Toshiba joined the Sony battery recall, with a batch of 340,000 batteries affected, while earlier this month Panasonic called in 6,000 batteries in laptops sold in Japan, which it said were not made by Sony.

 
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