Australia's Qantas Airways is telling passengers with Dell laptops that they might not be able to recharge their machines in-flight.

Earlier this month Dell issued a recall for 4.1 million laptop batteries because of a potential fire hazard. The company received several reports of laptops bursting into flames while charging and tracked the source of the problem to faulty batteries supplied by Sony.

Qantas said laptops with batteries that are subject to the recall and that have not yet been replaced can be used on flights, but only on battery power or through the onboard power supply with the batteries removed.

Sony is a major manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, but to date only Dell has issued such a recall notice. Sony said the problem is related to metallic particles in a critical area of the battery cell but that the risk of explosion depends on system configuration. Last week it said its own Vaio laptops were not at risk.

Today Sony said it is investigating a report from the US that a four-year old Sony Vaio computer burst into flames while charging. The computer apparently caught fire on Wednesday morning and firefighters were called to a residence in Kansas City, according to KMBC-TV.

Dell customers can find out more about the recall by visiting the company's website.