Although in-flight Internet access has existed for a handful of years now, it's still pretty rare to board a flight and find out that it's offered. In the dozen or so times I've flown in recent years, none of my flights had it, much to my chagrin. Although, I have to admit that after learning of a recent experience by a Singapore Airlines customer, I'm starting to think that I might be better off without it.
Once in the air, Jeremy Gutsche plunked down $28.99 to experience the wonders of in-flight Internet. I doubt it needs to be said, but $29 for a service like this is really high - it's almost as if the charge is $1 for every 1,000 or so feet in the air. Nonetheless, the asinine charges didn't stop there. After deboarding, Jeremy was handed a bill for $1,200. We've all heard this story before - overage is one heck of a drug.
As it happens, that $29 fee includes just 30 MB of bandwidth. I consider the $10 or so I pay each month for 500 MB of data to be ridiculous, but Singapore Airlines takes things to a brand-new level. Whether Jeremy knew of this limit, we're not sure. You are supposed to read the terms before using a service, after all. I wouldn't have blamed him if he thought that $29 would include a lot more than 30 MB, though. Most modern uncached websites would use about 1 MB - a modest amount, but a massive chunk of this 30 MB.
Clearly, if you're given 30 MB, all you're supposed to do is stick to email, and attach nothing. Jeremy did attach something; he notes it took an hour to upload a document, and quips that it probably cost him about $100 to do so. This kind of reminds me of the story I covered a few months ago, where Marriott was fined for forcing people to use its Internet. Given my experiences with hotel Internet, I am confident in saying that despite paying a lot, the service you get is horrible. Apparently in-flight Internet access is no different, or perhaps even worse.
@jeremygutsche Thank you for the feedback. Our colleagues are looking into this with our service provider, and they'll get back to you soon.— Singapore Airlines (@SingaporeAir) November 14, 2014
As you can see, Singapore Airlines acknowledges the charge, and are "looking into" it. Judging by all of the comments I'm seeing around, it seems very few feel bad for Jeremy - after all, he did it to himself. He either didn't read the terms, or didn't care. I can't disagree with this general concensus, but I don't think excuses should be made for service providers that charge truly asinine fees for such simple services. A charge of $29 for 30 MB makes any mobile package seem like an absolute steal. Oy.