Apple batteries and Virgin Atlantic

I see from Slashdot reports that Virgin Atlantic are banning all Apple and Dell batteries due to potential fire hazards. The fact it is the Sony made batteries that exhibit this fault, and are found in many other laptops besides those made by Apple and Dell seems to have been ignored.

At the second security checkpoint, just before boarding the plane at Heathrow, I was asked to remove the battery from my Powerbook. The Powerbook was in sleep mode at the time, so I had to stand to one side, start up and then shut down the machine to safely remove the battery. Once done I presented the Powerbook and battery to a second guard who asked why I had done this and professed to know nothing about such a ban. On the return trip, no one said anything about the battery.

This seems more like an effort to be seen to be doing something on the part of Virgin Atlantic rather than any real attempt to prevent a potential problem. I’ll not argue that Li batteries are harmless, indeed I read recently in a report that modern fully charged Li-Polymer batteries are approaching 1/3 the energy density of TNT. The report illustrated this with dramatic photographs of the results of batteries malfunctioning in active service.

I wonder just how many other Li batteries were on that Heathrow-Dulles flight that were not on the banned list. I know I was carrying another four in my hand luggage; PSP, camera & spare and mobile ‘phone.