According to news reports by Mashable and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a Canadian business executive ended up having to pay $1.142 in data overage fees for use of an on-flight Wi-Fi service on a Nov. 12 flight on Singapore Airlines. Jeremy Gutsche, chief executive officer for TrendHunter based in Toronto, Ontario, signed up for a 30-megabyte Internet plan for $28.99 during the flight.
The plan’s terms included additional charges for data used beyond 30 megabyte, and in this case the bill totaled $1,171 when Gutsche landed — a whopping $1,142 for extra data. Singapore Airlines investigated the complaint but stuck to the amount on the bill.
“I had an otherwise enjoyable flight,” Gutsche wrote in a post on his web site, “but the sticker shock of being gouged $1,200 made me feel like I was deplaning from Total Bastard Airlines, that old skit from Saturday Night Live where they kick you off the plane with a ‘Buy BYE!’. If you were a family traveler or someone like my mother, that bill would certainly ruin your vacation. I hope my team (at work) liked it,” Gutsche added.
The airlines Wi-Fi provider, OnAir, told the WSJ that its purchase process is entirely transparent. “To consume several hundred megabytes during one flight takes much more than basic email viewing, for example downloading heavy attachments, cloud access and using Skype.”
Gutsche added that “If we can land a probe on an asteroid, and if every other airline can manage to serve Internet at a flat rate (or free), then it shouldn’t be so wildly complicated for Singapore Airlines that they need to bill some people $1,200. I bought the $30 package, slept through most the flight, and really didn’t think I’d end up a thousand bucks past the limit.”