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2014-11-15T12:17:34Z

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.

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.

Joel H
2014-11-15T14:56:01Z

I'm perfectly willing to say this is bullshit, and that the people dogpiling him are engaging in a lot of trolling that would quickly turn to whining if the same thing happened to them.

Society runs on norms and expected pricing. Selling someone 30MB of in-flight data for $30 is a terrible deal. Utterly terrible. In fact, as you say, it's so terrible as to be useless. Furthermore, using that single transaction as a justified reason to continue slamming his account in such fashion is utterly unacceptable.

It is unreasonable to conclude that when a person forks over $30 for a one-time transaction they are agreeing to pay a $1200 fee (silently assessed and without additional warning). This is the kind of predatory arrangement that's *designed* to screw people over.

RWilliams
2014-11-15T15:30:44Z

"It is unreasonable to conclude that when a person forks over $30 for a one-time transaction they are agreeing to pay a $1200 fee (silently assessed and without additional warning)."

I couldn't agree more. A friend of mine experienced this exact same kind of thing a couple of years ago, when a group of us went down to Boston (from Canada) for some sports action. He worked for a mobile carrier, so he had a business phone, but he ended up using it so much (while we were roaming), that the bill ended up being $3,000. He didn't even use it that much... just for some GPS and quick Google searching. They never warned him about this gouging or anything, and the only reason he got away with it, whereas a normal person wouldn't, is because he worked for a carrier that worked out a deal.

I'd be interested in seeing a follow-up, to see if this guy will actually have to pay that bill. Judging by his wording, he almost seems settled on the fact that he's going to pay it.

NickModrowski
2014-11-15T15:48:31Z
altshep123
2014-11-15T16:25:42Z

I don't think the $30 is any more outrageous than paying hundreds more for first class. When it's on company dime people rarely care. Trying to justify $1200 in overages is just silly though. I can't imagine he'll ever have to pay it.

starwhite
2014-11-15T18:45:11Z

I was shocked at the $30 fee, BUT $1,200??? Get outta here! I'd probably have a panic attack when I saw it! My wife would murder me. Outrageous! Granted he should've read the fine print, but this company is gouging people unfairly.

BillShull
2014-11-16T06:31:44Z

That even makes comcast look like a saint lol.

realneil
2014-11-16T19:57:02Z

BillShull wrote:

That even makes comcast look like a saint lol.

And ~that's~ hard to do in any stretch of the imagination.