Recalled Laptop Batteries Dangerous for Air Travel
Newsday Staff Writer
September 27, 2006:
David Milman comments on Airline scrutiny for some laptops
For folks booked on Virgin Atlantic flights who own a Dell or Apple laptop powered by a recalled Sony-made battery ... well, better bring along a copy of "Crime and Punishment" instead of the latest "Fast and the Furious" DVD.
The cabin crew will check the battery's serial number and if it's on the recall list supplied to them, require the user to remove the battery.
In August, Dell and Apple announced massive recalls of lithium-ion laptop batteries, explaining that the Sony-sourced cells could overheat when in use and catch fire.
The firms recalled nearly 6 million batteries after reports that some had exploded.
Qantas and Korean Air have imposed similar restrictions.
Virgin Atlantic will allow passengers to instead use power adapters, but Virgin only supplies ports in its upper class and premium economy sections, and not in straight economy, said Brooke Lawer, a spokeswoman for the carrier.
"People have been very understanding because it is a safety issue, and understand that we're putting passenger safety first," Lawer said.
When the safety issue is resolved, the restrictions will be lifted, she said.
"The problem we have is that after Dell issued the recall, less than 4 percent of those people with these batteries actually applied to exchange them," said David Milman, who runs a Syracuse-based firm called Rescuecom that performs emergency PC repairs.
Milman said other airlines will have to follow Virgin's lead.
"The airlines spend millions of dollars making sure you can't bring on a bottle of shampoo," he said. "This is an issue that could lead to a catastrophe."
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