Back in August 2022, Singapore Airlines launched a trial offering complimentary full-flight unlimited Wi-Fi for Business Class passengers on selected aircraft types, a perk previously only available to those travelling in its Suites and First Class cabins.
The trial was expanded in November 2022 to include all aircraft in the fleet, with the exception of the carrier’s Boeing 737-800s, which are not Wi-Fi equipped.
This is a great perk many of our readers have been enjoying for the last five months, and the good news is the ‘all-you-can-eat’ allowances for these passengers have now been made permanent.
Free Wi-Fi is now permanent
Singapore Airlines has now confirmed that unlimited free Wi-Fi is now a permanent fixture for Suites, First Class and Business Class passengers, plus PPS Club members and supplementary cardholders travelling in any cabin class.
The airline is the first in Asia to offer this unlimited connection service for free in Business Class, which is no doubt part of the company’s effort to enhance the flying experience for its customers and stand out from competitors like Qatar Airways and Emirates.
In a new development, KrisFlyer members in Premium Economy will also get an extended connection package compared to before, with 3 hours of free Wi-Fi instead of to 2 hours when slumming it ‘down the back’ in Economy Class.
Here’s a summary of the new fleet-wide Wi-Fi allowances.
Complimentary Wi-Fi Allowance
|Unlimited free Wi-Fi
|Premium Economy Class
||Unlimited free Wi-Fi||3-hour
|Economy Class||Unlimited free Wi-Fi||2-hour
* Includes supplementary cardholders
Note: No Wi-Fi is available on the Boeing 737-800 fleet
Passengers traveling in Suites, First Class or Business Class on Singapore Airlines, in addition to PPS Club members in any cabin class, can now access the internet and stay connected for free during their entire flight. They can browse websites, check their email, and use social media, among other activities.
Aside from the obvious long-term benefit for Business Class and PPS Club passengers, the 3-hour surf session for KrisFlyer members in Premium Economy and 2-hour surf session in Economy are both also nice improvements on the chat session previously offered before the trial commenced.
That’s because the connection is not ‘optimised’ for text messaging on apps like before, but is an ordinary surf package, allowing full-bandwidth internet use.
Boeing 737-800 routes
As mentioned above, the small fleet of seven SIA Boeing 737-800 aircraft are now the only aircraft not offering Wi-Fi connectivity for any passengers.
These jets, happily scaled back from an initial planned fleet of nine, will remain with the airline until their leases expire, between September 2024 and January 2026.
Here’s where you’ll currently find the 737-800 aircraft flying on the network between now and late October 2023.
(SQ934/935, till 25 Mar)
(SQ440/439, till 24 Mar)
- Kuala Lumpur
(SQ104/103, 26 Mar – 28 Oct)
(SQ106/105 on Sat/Sun, 26 Mar – 28 Oct)
(SQ108/107 on Mon-Fri, 28 Mar – 27 Oct)
(SQ116/115, 26 Mar – 28 Oct)
(SQ118/117, 27 Mar – 28 Oct)
(all flights, till 25 Mar)
(SQ136/135, 1 – 28 Oct)
(SQ926/927/928/929, till 25 Mar)
(SQ762/761, till 25 Mar)
Don’t confuse the Boeing 737-800 with the Boeing 737-8 MAX, a larger fleet flying more extensively across the SIA network. The MAX aircraft do have Wi-Fi installed, and therefore also benefit from the complimentary trial for Business Class passengers.
It’s just the 737-800s you’ll need to avoid here, which unfortunately is impossible on some routes, like Phuket.
How much does it save?
Once you have used any complimentary Wi-Fi allowance on board a Singapore Airlines flight, the following regular time-based packages are available for purchase.
- 1 hour US$3.99
1 hour of continuous Wi-Fi access. Countdown begins after payment and will expire after the time limit is up, regardless of usage. Plan cannot be paused.
- 3 hours US$8.99
3 hours of continuous Wi-Fi access. Countdown begins after payment and will expire after the time limit is up, regardless of usage. Plan cannot be paused.
- Full Flight US$15.99
Unlimited connection for the entire flight.
These represent a far simplified series of options compared to the previous data limit selection, whereby costs could soon add up, particularly for data-intensive users on long flights, which is why the unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi deal for First Class and Suites passengers was always such a useful perk.
The “Full Flight” option could be particularly useful for those without unlimited complimentary access, but who still need to remain productive during their journey.
How’s the speed?
It’s not possible to definitively say what speed you will get when browsing the web on board a Singapore Airlines Wi-Fi equipped aircraft. Numerous factors such as atmospheric conditions, altitude, location, passenger usage and even what device you use will affect the end-user experience.
The limitations for each system are based on the satellite bandwidth they respectively use. For SITA On-Air it’s KA band and 864 kbit/s (per channel). For Panasonic, it’s KU band and 12 mbps (although it can go much higher).
Connections can also face temporary outage, since not all countries allow an airborne internet connection to be used when flying in their airspace.
The aircraft can also temporarily lose its satellite link, or the system can be in the process of establishing a connection with a different satellite as it travels across the globe on a long-haul service.
We’ve tested the Panasonic system more extensively, with some good results:
- A350 LH: 3.71 Mbps download / 2.15 Mbps upload
- “New” A380 Jan 18: 8.62 Mbps download / 2.30 Mbps upload
- “New” A380 Mar 18: 6.72 Mbps download / 2.02 Mbps upload
- 777-300ER Oct 19: 5.7 Mbps download / 2.2 Mbps upload
- 777-300ER Aug 22: 5.1 Mbps download / 1.0 Mbps upload
- 787-10: 4.46 Mbps download / 1.66 Mbps upload
These should be more than enough to satisfy your airborne data needs for most tasks.
Singapore Airlines’ decision to offer free Wi-Fi to Business Class passengers and PPS Club members permanently is a welcome move for those who want to stay connected while travelling, but didn’t previously want to fork out for one of the paid access packages once their 100MB allowance had expired.
Indeed the airline has become the first in Asia-Pacific to offer unlimited free Wi-Fi in Business Class on international flights.
The only exception will be on board one of the carrier’s seven Boeing 737-800s, which sadly don’t have a Wi-Fi antenna on the roof and therefore cannot provide an in-flight data connection at all!
KrisFlyer members travelling in Premium Economy now get a 3-hour surf package, with a 2-hour surf package in Economy Class, both of which are improvements on the previous bandwidth-limited ‘chat sessions’.
Non-KrisFlyer members are now the only ones stuck without a complimentary connection on the vast majority of SIA flights, though it’s free to join the programme, and a range of paid connection packages remains available once any free allowance is used up.
Further details of SIA’s inflight Wi-Fi service are available here.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)