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Virgin Atlantic eases laptop battery restrictions

Passengers can now use an Apple or Dell laptop with a battery after the serial number is checked by a crew member.

Virgin Atlantic has lifted its total ban on the in-flight use of batteries for any Apple Computer or Dell laptop.

The passengers from bringing onto planes any Apple and Dell laptops with their batteries still inside. That ban followed last month's recall of more than 5 million batteries from the companies' laptops. Virgin Atlantic's initial decision reflected .

In a new update on its site, however, Virgin Atlantic has said that passengers "wishing to use an Apple or Dell laptop onboard can only do so once the laptop serial number has been checked by a member of the cabin crew."

Only a small portion of the computer makers' laptops are affected by the faulty Sony batteries, which both Dell and Apple claim can overheat and catch fire.

The airline said that if a battery is not on the recall list, the laptop can be used without restriction.

If a battery comes from the affected batch as identified by Apple and Dell, it must be removed.

"In cabins where the seats are fitted with in-seat power supplies...leads/adaptors will be offered," the airline said. "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."

In cases where no in-seat power supplies are provided, the use of the Dell or Apple laptop with recalled batteries is strictly prohibited.

Virgin Atlantic said the restrictions will be lifted as soon as the safety issues are resolved.

Scott Mckenzie of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.