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Passenger Charged $1,171 for In-Flight Wi-Fi

A Singapore Airlines flyer received what could possibly be the world’s most expensive airplane Wi-Fi bill. Canadian passenger Jeremy Gutsche said he got a statement for $1,171.46 worth of Internet use shortly after stepping off a flight from London to Singapore earlier this month. Gutsche wrote about the bill on his website Trend Hunter. A copy of the bill is posted along with the blog.

Gutsche took a closer look at the in-flight Internet activity that ended up costing him well over a grand. He checked his browser history. He thought about what he did. Surprisingly, Gutsche didn’t even accomplish that much surfing on his flight—well, at least not as much as one might expect given the excessive bill. He reports looking at 155 pages on the Web and uploading one four megabyte PowerPoint document, which took an hour to process. Gutsche also sent one email to his coworkers.

“That email probably cost me $10,” wrote Gutsche. “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.”

There’s little argument in the absurdity of a $1,200 Wi-Fi bill. Gutsche is yet another casualty of airline price gouging, but he’s also the victim of his own negligence in this case. OnAir, the company that provides Wi-Fi on Singapore flights, offers a usage tracker bar; it’s not clear whether Gutsche used this. He probably didn’t. Furthermore, Gutsche could have had some additional programs running unseen. Apps like iCloud can take up a ton of bandwidth while operating in the background.

Gutsche says he’s contesting the bill, but, at least so far, it looks like he’s going to have to pay up. He told the Wall Street Journal, “Just because someone agrees to terms and conditions doesn’t mean those terms are ethical.”

That’s true, Gutsche. But you still have to own your side of this devil’s bargain. Buyer beware: Read the full terms and conditions before logging onto for-fee airline Wi-Fi.

Do you think Gutsche should pay the astronomical Wi-Fi bill?

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