Reports are out today about a man charged $1,179.00 for airplane wi-fi usage. Mostly due, it seems, to uploading a large powerpoint presentation and to his various programs backing up or syncing his accounts.
It seems Jeremy Gutsche signed up for a 30MB Internet plan for $28.99 on a Singapore Airlines flight on Nov. 12. The charges ended up being legitimate, and the company contracted for the wi-fi service is not backing down, or refunding his money.
Could you be charged $1,179.00 for airplane wi-fi usage?
To add insult to injury, the Singapore Airlines internet was painfully slow according to Jeremy. “I spent about an hour uploading one 4mb powerpoint doc…. I actually even emailed them a warning that my upload was taking a while. That email probably cost me $10. And yes, the pricing per mb was disclosed on sign-up, but 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.
The Singapore Airlines internet was painfully slow.
Speed has been the biggest issue after having to pay for internet access, according to GoGo. And while that is bound to get better, and hopefully the wi-fi connection more reliable in coming days, some claim even faster internet than you get at home, overage charges may still limit your choices.
In all fairness, many providers specifically warn against streaming services like HBO GO or Netflix.
This brings up the issue of airplane internet gouging and being aware of airplane wi-fi contracts (what you are agreeing to BEFORE you end up getting charged a huge bill), especially if the account is “open” and totals are charged after the fact (like hotel rooms and rental car companies).
HOW-TO: Protect yourself against Wi-Fi data charges:
2.) Check your phone’s settings and turn off backup scheduling. This is especially a concern because many times, in order to save cell data, your programs will automatically default to “Backup only if on wi-fi.” which is dangerous if the wi-fi isn’t unlimited, or at your home or office.
3.) Install a free program to monitor wi-fi or data usage. When on an airline or if your cell data is limited, this type of program will allow you to see in real time where your data is going and what programs are running in the background.
Hopefully, these three rules will help protect you against airline internet gouging
General rule of thumb: Make a habit of turning off a wi-fi network is good practice wherever you are, but especially on airplanes.
Accessing the internet on flights for work or pleasure is increasing with over 40% of domestic flights now offering/allowing phone and tablet access. But while accessible the speeds and cost per mb. keep it from being widely used. And it seems that the high cost isn’t helping airlines or their providers make money either. GoGo, for instance, has an 81% market share in the US, and increased its consolidated revenue by 46%, yet still managed to post a net loss of $32.7 million.
No liability insurance plan or international insurance policy can currently protect you against yourself, and/or against airplane wi-fi gouging. And for now, it appears credit card companies, even the better ones, will not reverse a charge made by negligence (according to NerdWallet and ThePointsGuy), but your mileage may vary.
The question for Jeremy now is, can he expense the charges? Can he use the deduction on his taxes? Or was this just a costly tale to instruct others?