If you’re 30,000 feet in the air, your ability to keep up with Facebook drama, cat videos and Patreon causes you (ahem) firmly believe in depends on whether your aircraft offers inflight connectivity.
In the case of Singapore Airlines, that connectivity can come from Wi-Fi or Data Roaming. In this post, I’ll explain the different options and how much they cost.
SQ uses two Wi-Fi providers, Panasonic and SITA OnAir. Here’s a breakdown of which aircraft has what (you can also see which aircraft offer what cabin products here):
|Panasonic Avionics||SITA OnAir|
|A350-900 (Ultra Long Haul and Long Haul)||Yes|
|B777-300ER||9V-SWU, SWV, SWW, SWY, SWZ and 9V-SNA, SNB, SNC||9V-SWA, SWB, SWD, SWE, SWF, SWG, SWH, SWJ, SWK, SWL, SWM, SWN, SWO, SWP, SWQ, SWR, SWI, SWS, SWT|
Once upon a time, it was an important distinction whether your aircraft was Panasonic-equipped or OnAir-equipped. Why? Because Panasonic plans were time-based, and OnAir plans were volume-based. That’s to say, OnAir limited you to a certain amount of data, whereas you could surf to your heart’s content with Panasonic.
Here’s how Panasonic Wi-Fi plans used to price (all amounts in USD):
At some point this year, SQ stopped offering time-based plans for Panasonic and switched all plans to volume-based. Here’s how much Panasonic plans now cost:
- 20MB (US$6)- US$0.30/MB
- 80MB (US$16)- US$0.20/MB
- 200MB (US$28)- US$0.14/MB
The irony is that OnAir-equipped aircraft, once so feared by road warriors, now offer the better deal:
- 30MB (US$4.99)- US$0.17/MB
- 150MB (US$12.99)- US$0.09/MB
- 500MB (US$19.99)- US$0.04/MB (this is a promotional rate)
There are actually two different OnAir platforms. The one shown above is on the newer aircraft eg the 5 new A380s with the 2017 cabin products. The older platform charges:
- 15MB (US$6.99)- US$0.46/MB
- 30MB (US$12.99)-US$0.43/MB
- 50MB (US$19.99)- US$0.40/MB
Louis has done a rather unscientific testing of inflight Wi-Fi speeds which you can read about here.
Complimentary Wi-Fi for selected passengers
In February, Singapore Airlines announced that passengers in Suites, First and Business Class passengers and PPS Club members would receive a complimentary Wi-Fi session on Airbus A350, A380, Boeing 777-300ER and 787-10 aircraft.
- Suites/ First Class Passengers: 100MB
- Business Class Passengers/ PPS Club Members: 30MB
This allowance is granted per sector, so if you’re flying SIN-HKG-SFO, you’ll get one allowance on the SIN-HKG leg and another on the HKG-SFO leg. Allowances don’t stack, so a PPS Club member in First Class will get 100MB, not 100MB + 30MB.
Boingo access for Citi Prestige and World Elite Mastercard holders
There are recent reports in the Telegram Group that Boingo accounts obtained through Citi Prestige have not been able to access Wi-Fi on SQ-operated flights. Do sound off if you’ve been on a flight recently.
Through Cell Service
In addition to Wi-Fi, you can also get data connectivity through your cellphone. Singapore Airlines aircraft with Wi-Fi will also have cell service provided through either OnAir or AeroMobile.
The good news is that Singtel, StarHub and M1 offer all-you-can-eat data plans with both providers
In order to use this service, you need to turn on the data roaming feature on your phone.
It’s worth noting that the aircraft in SQ’s fleet without Wi-Fi are the ones which are being retired/returned to lessors anyway, and eventually we’ll be in a situation where all of SQ’s widebody fleet has connectivity.
The quality of your connection is highly dependent on weather conditions, location and assorted gremlins, but if your experience is so bad that you can’t use your allowance it’s well worth writing in to customer service because they’ve been known to do refunds in some instances.