Korean Air bans use of Apple PowerBooks, iBooks, and all Dell laptop models during flight

“Korean Air has forbidden the use of Dell and Apple laptop PCs during flight due to the risk of battery explosion,” Cho Jin-seo reports for The Korea Times.

“The Korean national flag carrier said yesterday that the ban was put in place from Aug. 30, after the two U.S. computer manufacturers announced the recall of batteries used in some of their laptop models. The batteries, manufactured by Sony, were reported to have caught fire while in use on several occasions,” Jin-seo reports. “The airline prohibited all models of Dell laptops and Apple’s Powerbook and iBook series, while users can still carry them if they separate the batteries into checked baggage.”

Jin-seo reports, “The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration also is reviewing the general safety of rechargeable lithium batteries, according to the Washington Post.”

“On the new safety policy of Korean Air, An Apple Korea spokesperson Kim Min-seok played it down as ‘a little overreacting,’ saying none of the U.S. airliners have adopted such rules despite the sales of the laptops being significantly higher in America than in South Korea,” Jin-seo reports.

Jin-seo reports, “Dell Computer also questioned the airline’s decision, saying it was unreasonably harsh to restrict all models, including ones that do not use the Sony batteries. ‘They could easily check out whether a laptop uses a Sony battery or other brand instead of banning them all,’ Dell’s product manager Shin Won-jun said. ‘We are going to solve this issue by further discussions with Korean Air.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Airlines have a lot to worry about, but if we paid hundreds of dollars for plane tickets and had a PowerBook or an iBook with an already-replaced battery, we should be able to use it. The same goes for people trying to use Dells running Windows, too. And good luck to MacBook Pro users trying to explain to Joe Baggage Screener the difference between your Mac and a PowerBook. Hopefully they’ll explain upfront to baggage screeners that MacBooks are fine. If this goes widespread with the airlines, somebody could make some cash short-term by selling faux MacBook Pro labels for PowerBooks with batteries that aren’t recalled or that have already had their recalled batteries replaced.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Dell Japan President blames Sony for recall of fire hazardous batteries – August 29, 2006
Sony-made battery fire in discontinued Apple notebook computer reported in Japan – August 29, 2006
Apple to recall 1.8 million Sony-made iBook G4, PowerBook G4 batteries – August 24, 2006
Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others working on battery standard – August 23, 2006
Qantas first airline to restrict in-flight Dell laptop use due to fire-prone batteries – August 23, 2006
Dell and Sony knew about battery problems nearly a year ago, waited for catastrophic failures – August 21, 2006
Dell issues largest safety recall in history: 4.1 million laptop batteries due to fire threat – August 14, 2006
Another Dell laptop goes up in flames – July 28, 2006
Dell laptop fires may have been downplayed – July 22, 2006
NY Times: Dell’s exploding laptop and other image problems – July 10, 2006
Dell laptop explodes into flames at Japanese conference – June 21, 2006

30 Comments

  1. Quantas had most intelligent policy. If you want to connect laptop to their power-port, remove the battery. They should apply the rule to all laptop computers, not just Dell and Apple.

  2. Here’s a wild idea…Install computers (Macs) into the passenger seats.

    If you can put LCD monitors into passenger vehicles for families so kids can watch movies, then the airlines can put computers where the flip-down tray tables are.

    You can place a Mac Mini, 17 or 19 inch LCD and wireless keyboard and mouse on the back of each seat. Charge a nominal fee for internet use.

    Just a thought……

  3. This sort of reaction was absolutely inevitable.

    It’s much easier for them to ban anything with an Apple or a Dell logo than to take the trouble to actually check whether the specific laptop is one of those ones affected by the problem batteries.

    Fortunately it’s not an airline that I ever envisage travelling with, but I might feel much more alarmed if other airlines adopted the same attitude.

    When you consider the risks associated with air travel these days, the infinitesimally small chance of a laptop battery igniting during flight is the least of their concerns.

    Why don’t all airlines ban duty free spirits to be carried onto planes? 300 passengers each with a couple of litres of spirit stored in their overhead locker is hardly a recipe for enhanced safety. But of course the big difference is that there is profit to be made from duty-free alcohol sales. Allowing passengers to carry a laptop is simply a convenience and no profit is generated from it.

  4. “When you consider the risks associated with air travel these days, the infinitesimally small chance of a laptop battery igniting during flight is the least of their concerns.”

    The chance of anything life-threatening happening on a flight is infinitesimally small.

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