- Sky-high surfing is always cool
- The high price is NOT cool
- It's eXpensive
On a recent Swiss flight between Hong Kong and Zurich, on the airline's new Boeing 777-300ER, we fire up the inflight Internet service to see how it fares for business travellers looking to stay connected above the clouds.
Swiss joins the swelling ranks of airlines which are embracing satellite Internet, although it's currently limited to the Boeing 777-300ER fleet.
And like much else in and of Switzerland, it's very costly.
The Swiss Connect service is charged by how much data you use (which includes both downloads and uploads), rather than how long you spend online.
The least expensive option is 20MB for 9 Swiss Francs (A$12.50), which the airline suggests is best “if you just intend to shortly check your emails or visit a couple of websites.”
But we can tell you from experience that this won’t go far, especially if you want to share some in-flight selfies on social media.
At 19 Swiss Francs (A$26.50) the mid-range 50MB pass is a safer bet, or you can go all out with 120MB for 39 Swiss Francs (A$54).
This makes it among the world’s most expensive inflight WiFi services.
The signup process is fairly straightforward and includes creating an account which can be used on subsequent Swiss Boing 777 flights without having to re-enter all your details from scratch.
Before you jump online, however, take a few precautions to keep unnecessary data consumption to a minimum: close your email app (you should be accessing your email via a web page, not laptop or tablet software) and disable any cloud backup software.
Once you’re connected, a web page helps keep track of how much data you’ve chewed through and how much remains.
The Internet speed on my flight was adequate if not peppy, although I couldn’t even load the Speedtest website to check the actual throughput. But it was clear that Facebook’s not made for leisurely connection speeds.
What may surprise you is how quickly you can hit your download limit – even on the mid-range 50MB plan.
During my flight from Hong Kong to Zurich I was online for just under 30 minutes, and without any heavy-duty online activity – just some email (sent and received through the Google Mail web page), a few visits to a few news websites, a little bit of Facebook browsing (without uploading any photos) and suddenly I’d hit that 50MB ceiling and my connection was cut off.
This indicates that the top-shelf 120MB package could be your best bet, but you'll still want to watch your online activity very carefully.
David Flynn flew as a guest of Swiss, but paid for his own inflight Internet connection.