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Tipping a Flight Attendant?

Wow, tipping your flight attendant. I’d never thought about it until I stumbled on an article last night. Frontier Airlines appears to be the only airline that allows it, and has since 2016, but it’s at the discretion of each flight attendant if they want to ask for tips.
Loosely looking into salaries, a starting flight attendant at Frontier is unionized and makes about 25/hr and with seniority that can increase to $55/hr after years of loyalty and service, so we’re not talking minimum wage, and even the union opposes the practice.

This article gives opinions from the point of view of the flight attendants. Some appreciate a tip or gift but it’s never expected. Some oppose it because their job goes beyond a service industry role.
https://www.cntraveler.com/story/tipping-flight-attendants

I’m curious if it has ever occurred to you to tip a flight attendant?

Posted by
4595 posts

All that is needed is to be a pleasant passenger that follows the rules and requests. Please and Thank you when appropriate. Smile. And if you really feel that isn't enough for people who chose to enter this profession, then a Starbucks gift card....which though well meaning still feels a little condescending.
Yes, they put up with a lot, but making their job easier, by at least one person is better than throwing money at it....IMO

Posted by
15705 posts

Don't look at the hourly wage for a flight attendant. Most FA's work 75-100 hours/month. They are paid in what's known as "Flight Pay." Flight Pay basically starts when the brakes are relased by pilot just before pushback and stops when the brakes are set at the destination gate. All the other time is not on the books.

I'm not going to tip a flight attendant. I was once given a box of chocolates prior to a trip. I didn't want to lug it around so I offered it to a flight attendant to share with her colleagues. (It was sealed.) She took it and thanked me. During the flight another flight attendant came over to thank me.

I left the flight with a few extra mini bottles of booze.

What's next? Are the going to pass the hat for the pilots?

Tipping has gotten way out of control.

Posted by
7024 posts

It's never occurred to me and my sister-in-law, who is a flight attendant for Delta, would be horrified at the idea. That said, I think Frank's idea is nice - to share something like a box of chocolates.

Posted by
884 posts

Voodoo Doughnuts make an excellent tip.
Perhaps I should add - one of my daughtes is an administrator with an airline. During her 25+ years of service, she has seen it all - from good to bad to incomprehensible. Service workers appreciate acknowledgement.
My doughnut deal has no quid pro quo - just a jesture of gratitude.

Posted by
3994 posts

Frank II about when pay starts and ends for flight attendants? If the flight sits at the gate with passengers on board for hours because of an issue, people have to deplane at some point, perhaps reboard, sit some more at the gate, then the flight either eventually takes off or is cancelled etc. does the flight attendant earn $0 for the day despite having to deal with some pretty disgruntled passengers? All of the above has happened to us on flights over the years.

Posted by
528 posts

Last June,Delta started paying their FAs during the boarding process. According to the article I read on NPR’s website, they are the only major airline that does that. The others begin pay when the plane pushes off. This is ridiculous since the FA’s are required to be there - and I believe that anytime an employer requires you to be there, you should be paid!

Posted by
7722 posts

Discussions such as these just point out the wild lack of logic around tipping. The flight attendant seats you, gets you drinks and food, attends to what needs you have, cleans up after you, answers questions, and for the "gee, to improve performance crowd", you would like them to be very customer oriented in their job...all things we are told we "must" tip for.

The only argument for not tipping a flight attendant, and still tip a waiter or maid, is that we deem a flight attendants job to be in an upper class of work...which by default means waiting tables or cleaning a room is less dignified an occupation.

I'm in the crowd that says all work has dignity, you need to pay people what they are worth.

Posted by
465 posts

They should be paid a salary equal (or beyond) all they have to contend with in their demanding--and these days potentially dangerous--profession. Tipping should not be at issue--though I like the small gift idea.

Blue439--do you like Voodoo more than Blue Star?

Posted by
930 posts

If the flight sits at the gate with passengers on board for hours because of an issue, people have to deplane at some point, perhaps reboard, sit some more at the gate, then the flight either eventually takes off or is cancelled etc. does the flight attendant earn $0 for the day despite having to deal with some pretty disgruntled passengers?

A lot of it depends on the airlines contract with the union. Another situation, your flight is delayed and not at the gate, the crew is there waiting. They are not getting paid. If a passenger gets too disgruntled, the ground staff may ask them to deplane! Saw this in DEN a few years ago when our flight was several hours delayed due an equipment issue, when we started boarding one passenger starting hollering at the crew as he was boarding. Soon a supervisor boarded the plane and had a discussion with him. Quiet for the entire flight. I asked one of the FAs on the flight how they were compensated for this type of delay, zero.

Posted by
3248 posts

I took some Lindt Easter chocolates for the flight attendants on my flight to Rome from Montreal in April.
You’d think I had given them the moon.
They were so thankful and offered me anything extra I might need.
I didn’t need anything, but was happy to have cheered up their work day a little bit.
As MariaF said, if everyone could just be polite and compliant with airline rules while travelling, that would go a long way to having happy flight attendants.

Posted by
4305 posts

How about this. Would you start to tip on an airplane if prompted by the debit machine? It seems to me that the cashless method is making people more bold in asking for tips. Afterall, it's much easier to ask without really asking. I posted this earlier on another tipping thread; a coworker had his garage door fixed this weekend by a private contractor at a cost of $75/hr and a tipping option came up on the debit machine.

Posted by
7024 posts

Would you start to tip on an airplane if prompted by the debit machine? It seems to me that the cashless method is making people more bold in asking for tips.

I'm getting more and more annoyed with stuff like that. A couple of months ago, I ate at a restaurant in Minneapolis where payment is made similar to European restaurants. They bring the machine to your table, you insert your card and so on. The server brought it and after I tapped the card, the tip option came up. That was fine - I expected it, but while I was contemplating the tip, the server stood there watching me over my shoulder. I turned and asked her if she could give me some privacy, and she said that she was not allowed to have the machine out of her sight. So I pointed out that she could still see the machine if she moved over a few feet.

I could tell she was annoyed but it did not match my annoyance at this. I always tip and I did in this case, but not as much as I would have if that situation had not happened.

Posted by
15705 posts

Mona--yes, that's exactly it. Remember, all FA's belong to a union and their pay is spelled out by the contract negotiated by the union and the airline.

People also forget that the flight attendants main purpose is for safety.

Posted by
528 posts

Not ALL FAs are unionized. For instance, Delta’s FAs are NOT. There have been several failed union drives. Delta changed their policy about paying for the boarding process time during the last union drive. So, even though the FAs are not unionized, the threat of a union possibly affected Delta’s policy.

Also, a lot of people seem to see FAs as equivalent to waitresses. However, their most important responsibilities involve safety. I don’t know of any restaurant worker who needs to know how to evacuate a planeload of people in 90 seconds. FAs should be compensated as the professionals that they are - no tipping and a good wage.

Posted by
2113 posts

I’d love to have the travel perks of flight attendants. I’ve know about some tipping of flight attendants for years as a friend was one. I never have nor will I.
I object to the tip added part on the screens so I leave it in cash. I don’t tip if I’m asked for one. Nor do I like wages so low that many work more than one job.

Posted by
2765 posts

I have a friend who is an FA for Delta. I saw something like this a while back on TripAdvisor and asked her about it.

If someone gives her a small personal gift like chocolate (or Girl Scout cookies, she loved that) she's thrilled but she was adamant that she was NOT a waitress and would be insulted by a gift of cash or gift cards.

Don't look at the hourly wage for a flight attendant. Most FA's work 75-100 hours/month. They are paid in what's known as "Flight Pay." Flight Pay basically starts when the brakes are relased by pilot just before pushback and stops when the brakes are set at the destination gate. All the other time is not on the books.

And on Delta boarding and deplaning is now on the books! No, that's no an industry standard but they are now paid for that time on Delta. And I think for some of the others if there is an excessive delay the union has negotiated some pay for that. SO if you sit at the gate boarded for an hour they might get some cash not 100% sure and I would bet Frontier is trying to avoid that LOL!

Posted by
20461 posts

"in case of the loss of cabin pressure, those of you who tipped your flight attendants will have an oxygen mask drop down. Breathe into it normally. Those of you who did not tip your flight attendants can just hold your breath."

Posted by
7024 posts

So, even though the FAs are not unionized, the threat of a union possibly affected Delta’s policy.

It definitely did. My SIL is adamantly opposed to unionizing the Delta FA and uses this to point out that Delta has always treated its FA well. The union talk didn't really come up much until Delta's merger with Northwest, and that is because the Northwest FA were in the union. Delta certainly is one of the better employers to work for as a FA but would do anything to avoid unionizing the FA.

Posted by
8654 posts

lets take this to the next level and start tipping the pilot. After all, who has greater impact on the quality of our trip, if as some say, thats the purpose of a tip?

Posted by
2484 posts

Yeah, right after I’ve tipped my senator for passing legislation

Posted by
11516 posts

My SIL and niece, when they travel internationally ( coach) have found that a box of chocolates has produced a more pleasant flight experience. Sometimes there are leftover biz/1st meals or some bonus 'adult beverages', that appear on their tray.

And if all they get is a sincere 'thank you' from the FAs, they are happy to give a bit of joy to them.

Posted by
15 posts

I have never thought about tipping a flight attendant. I definitely agree it would be the best to try to make their day better by being a nice passenger and maybe giving them something like a box oof chocolates instead of a tip.

Posted by
294 posts

Posted by renee

Also, a lot of people seem to see FAs as equivalent to waitresses.
However, their most important responsibilities involve safety.

This.

Tipping would seem to reinforce the idea that FAs are flying waitresses/waiters.

No. They are there for the safety of the passengers.

I believe at one time, a requirement to be a FA was to be an RN.

Posted by
815 posts

With the inflation we have been seeing since covid I have started seeing more and more olaces looking for tips, and i have seen suggested tip levels going through the roof.

This is well and trully out of control and needs to be fixed.

Posted by
11516 posts

I have started seeing more and more olaces looking for tips, and i have seen suggested tip levels going through the roof.
This is well and truly out of control and needs to be fixed

Time to re-launch the "Just say NO" campaign ??

Posted by
189 posts

I have been a nurse for 47 years. When I graduated, cashiers at Safeway were making more than me. I’ve cleaned more “crevices” than you even knew you had, and I would be insulted if anyone ever offered me a tip. I chose this profession and all that goes with it.
Offer my team a box of chocolates, and it won’t make your care any better, but you can be sure that every nurse that partakes in that box will thank you.
I never thought about flight attendants. I am polite and verbally thank everybody on my journey, whether they are security personnel, flight attendant or ticket agents.
I think I will pick up some good chocolates on my next trip. Not to get better service, but just to let the flight attendant know she/he is appreciated.
Now if I can just cram them into my stuffed carry on😜

Posted by
350 posts

Yeah don't start this tipping culture with flight attendants. The practice will eventually morph to corporations making this practice a scheme for monetization. Don't go there. Resist and refuse this insane practice. Giving little gifts is fine; not cash and not tipping.

Posted by
18827 posts

This is well and trully out of control and needs to be fixed.

Easy, don't tip. What I do, ot don't do has no impact on anyone. "But they will expect it from me!" That's their problem. Not yours. "But I will feel out of place, or they will think bad of me, if I don't do the same!" You are your own best judge.

Just to clarify, tipping a flight attendant isn't something I would feel comfortable doing, and sort of hope she wouldn't feel comfortable taking it.

Posted by
815 posts

My last couple flights (about 5/6 years ago) overseas were with my then 85/86 year old father. And the Flight Attendants were all extra specially attentive. Making sure he had plenty to drink and offering extra snacks and such. My last couple flight domestically…in the last year or so, were not the same experiences. On one of those i saw the flight attendant once, when the drink cart made its pass. Otherwise it was a ghost flight, And i dont me they didnt talk to me i mean they were no where to be seen.
I also had a flight were the flight attendants were shall we say,,, less then pleasant to passengers.

In neither case did I tip, nor will I tip with the current cost factors, I dont care what the flight attendants make. But considering the cost of flights the airline can certainly pay them a wage that does not need me to tip, It is not like flights are cheep,

Posted by
5384 posts

BOAC in the 1940s & 50s made a point in its advertising to advise people not to tip, I guess because people were used to tipping on ocean liners.

Posted by
9436 posts

Ok, i bring a box of See’s chocolates on my next trip to Paris, when do i give it to a flight attendant and which one do i give it to?

Posted by
9436 posts

Thanks Tom, good advice. I was thinking i should give it to the FA assigned to my section.

Posted by
338 posts

I was an Executive Platinum flyer on American Airlines for many years. Each year I would get a half dozen recognition coupons that I could give to a Flight Attendant or Gate Agent. They were very, very appreciated by those who received them when I recognized them for exceptional service.

It would be great if all the airlines would have a means for all passengers to recognize exceptional service via a reward and recognition system.

Posted by
2765 posts

All airlines do have a mechanism for your to report good service. You go to their website and look for the "contact us", "need help" or similar area and you type up a compliment.