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Gifting airline attendants

It’s been suggested that giving the airline attendants a small gift upon boarding could have a positive effect on flight experience. Curious as to validity, and if so, what sort of gift?

Posted by
6857 posts

Nope too awkward; the flight attendants are spread throughout the cabin you would be holding up the boarding process trying to give them something when you should be putting your bag in the overhead bin and getting out of the aisle so other passengers can sit down so the flight can leave on time; and what about turbulence they can't do anything about that.

Posted by
21249 posts

THAT !!! is absolutely a new one for me. Never heard of that and that goes back to the time when we actually wore a coat and tie to board. Who suggested that?

Posted by
653 posts

While some folks may laugh, I actually have brought candy for the flight crew to share. Usually a pound of Sees and typically only on flights where I have flown regularly for example, I was flying to London once every couple of months and brought candy, same when I did the Frankfurt Bangalore route. I often had the same crew and it was a thank you. Did it improve my service, not really sure, but something I enjoyed doing.

Posted by
6857 posts

typically only on flights where I have flown regularly for example,

that is different

Posted by
3838 posts

I think the best gift you could give flight attendants is a pleasant greeting, moving quickly to your seat, keeping your area clean, appreciation when they are serving meals, no expected special attention and a heartfelt thank you to the crew as you depart.

Posted by
12376 posts

Sandy, I hope you mean cabin crew, not the flight crew (pilots). They are not allowed to accept any gifts of food for obvious reasons.

As for the cabin crew, I agree with the others that is it awkward and not a good idea at all.

Posted by
1306 posts

For what flights cost these days, they don't anything extra from me. It's their job.

Posted by
21 posts

Nice variety of answers; I’m going with Jean’s, as that has always been my theory. What goes around comes around. Bon voyage, y’all!

Posted by
745 posts

Oh...come on! If you are flying out of PDX....the answer is VOODOO Doughnuts!

Posted by
1878 posts

I think this would be perceived as a ploy to get special treatment and have never seen anyone do this (thought I am sure it happens). A better strategy might be to just be nice to them. A little friendly chit chat when they are not at a busy time can't hurt.

Posted by
7620 posts

NEVER ever saw anyone share their VOODOO donuts. ( really not surprising either!)

Posted by
8293 posts

How will you know when you are boarding, which attendant should receive the gift? Will this cause dissension among the crew if only one gets the bag of candies? If, as a result of the gifting, you do get better service and attention, will the other passengers be upset and boo and hiss at you? What kind of improved service do you envisage? It is quite a strange idea actually.

Posted by
2650 posts

I will join the OP in giving the gold star for best answer to Jean. Treat flight attendants like professionals, and they will generally treat you professionally. At least that's my experience on Delta and European carriers. I regularly flew US Air before making the switch to Delta several years ago; that airline had some angry FAs!

Posted by
1978 posts

I used to have a business associate who did it as a matter of course on international flights when we travelled together. Though he did it as a simple, random act of kindness (he was just a good guy and thoughful in that way), the cabin crew often reciprocated with free drinks and an occasional upgrade into first class if seats were available.
Never hurts to be nice.

Posted by
6074 posts

If you want to have a positive effect on your flight experience you'd be more successful bribing your fellow passengers.

Posted by
1978 posts

Scythian - usually it was just a box of chocolates (or two) that he said was a gift for all members of the flight crew ... not just the particular recipient during boarding. Occasionally he'd outdo himself and hit a pizza place or a KFC for a couple of buckets of chicken. They always reacted with 1. amazement and 2. appreciation at what they universally saw as the kind gesture it was intended to be.

All I can say is that I spent a lot of flights alone back in steerage after he was directed to the front of the plane.

Posted by
314 posts

On an overseas flight a few years ago, the lady sitting next to me gave the flight attendant a small box of chocolates after we were in the air. I thought it was a lovely gesture, and I regret that I never can seem to remember to do it when I fly. My impression was that the gift was genuinely appreciated.

The most positive reaction I have received from a flight attendant was when I was on a Turkish Airlines flight, and I was able to able to greet her and briefly converse with her in Turkish. I don't think she was expecting it from a blonde who was quite obviously not Turkish. The gentleman sitting next to me remarked that her whole face lit up when I spoke to her. We were both treated like royalty the whole flight.

Posted by
2754 posts

I have heard of people giving chocolates to the cabin crew and that it is welcome. I've never done this, as I'm rather introverted. However, I always greet each one as I enter the plane and smile. I say thank you when I'm served, etc. I can't see that this would be negatively received.

Posted by
996 posts

I have read stories of families traveling with infants who brought candy to hand out to flight attendants AND the people sitting nearest them on the plane.

I've also read stories (similar to one posted above) of frequent flyers who sometimes gifted the fight attendants they saw on an almost weekly basis with local chocolates.

I have never thought it was necessary to gift flight attendants, and I'd feel awkward doing so.

Posted by
8293 posts

“Treat airline crews as professionals ....”. says a post above. Excellent advice, they are professionsls, and that is why I was so astounded once when I was boarding a Southwest plane and a flight attendant stationed at the front of the cabin, sang (SANG!!) Consider yourself at home, consider yourself part of the famileee ...”. I guess she was hoping a Broadway producer would be on board and he would say, “Here’s my card, miss. Call me on Monday.. i’ll Make you a star.”
,

Posted by
196 posts

I was shocked for a split second upon seeing this topic since German
is my 3rd langauge(English is my 2nd) and Gift in German means poison.
Poisoning airline attendants? :-)

Scythian, I enjoyed your Quora link. I had a similar reaction when seeing the sign for the "Mist Trail" in Yosemite. And there are always a lot of German tourists there ;-)

Posted by
519 posts

As a fearful flyer, I have often wished that I have had something to give a particularly kind flight attendant after a difficult flight. What I’ve always done is get the names of specific flight attendants who have been very helpful and email the airlines commending them to a supervisor. I’ve always gotten lovely replies saying that the flight attendant will be recognized.

Posted by
2317 posts

Part of me is surprised that flight attendants are allowed to accept food from passengers. What's to stop a hijacker from drugging them?

I'm really bummed that about having that reaction to what is probably a very kind gesture.

Posted by
3789 posts

I remember some blog promoting this to get free upgrades saying to bring 'gifts' . He recommended a number of smarmy suck up methods. Though he also suggested small gifts on regular frequent flights.....just because.
I agree with Jean about trying to be a good passenger. As to parents with small kids, I would prefer a parent who would keep kids from kicking seats over ones with Skittles or chocolate (nice idea that it is).

Posted by
12601 posts

I gave a discrete head's up to the attendants once that a passenger boarding behind me was going to be a real high-maintenance PITA. This was based upon her abuse of the check-in staff.

I was right; she was.

They were grateful for the warning, and told me so upon disembarking. That was my "gift", along with exemplary behavior during the flight.

Posted by
2884 posts

Jean, I echo your answer as well. Just like any other service oriented job, treat everyone with respect and appreciation. I will never forget boarding one time and a couple were sitting in our seats (on purpose!) I summoned the flight attendant who told them to move. The couple said we could sit somewhere else! WHAAT? So appreciated how the attendant handled it. They finally moved-reluctantly.

Posted by
653 posts

Hi Lola, thanks for clarifying, I meant the cabin crew (flight attendants). A pound of candy is easily shared amongst the crew that is why I don’t bring individual gifts. I know that some think this is a strange practice, but I love seeing the faces of the flight attendants and appreciate it when they stop by to thank me from thinking of them. They have a tough job and a little random act of kindness never hurts.

Of course, as travelers we can accomplish that without bringing gifts. I smile, thank you can also work.

Posted by
196 posts

Scythian, thanks for the laughs! Fun cartoon. And I had forgotten about "Maid of the Mist" LOL.

Posted by
1217 posts

If you have a good flight experience, do go to the airline's web page, find the 'contact us' and send in a note with enough information (flight, date, physical description, etc) so the employee can be identified. Many airlines have employee recognition programs where those kinds of notes go into personnel records and can make good things happen for them in their work environment. Some airlines give their upper level elite flyers a certain number of certificates to use on employees who go far beyond the contract of carriage minimum and the employees can use those certificates toward prizes and cool stuff

Posted by
12376 posts

This discussion is reminding me of a famous (or infamous) one on the Fodors Forum titled “How much should I tip the pilot?”

I have followed Selkie’s suggestion (an online note to the team supervisor) for outstanding service by an airline’s agent on the phone, sorting out a complicated problem. I have not needed to pass on such praise for a flight attendant, but I would if I it were called for. Normal, routine professional service gets a personal “thank you” from me as we deplane, but no tip!

Posted by
3175 posts

It’s been suggested that giving the airline attendants a small gift
upon boarding could have a positive effect on flight experience.
Curious as to validity, and if so, what sort of gift?

From where were you given this "suggestion"? When asked by someone else, you never responded.

I take 3-4 trips per month visiting client sites. The buying off all of the FAs per flight, if I were to do this every time I fly, would bankrupt us.

Posted by
114 posts

While I have not tried this a friends of our who just few to Australia and back took a box of See’s candy for his two flights. This was after boarding and after he determined the flight attendant would be working his section. He got extra wine and on one flight ,as he was leaving an unopened bottle of wine for the road.

Posted by
28 posts

I have seen this suggestion more than once on Yahoo. Recently at www.fashionbeans.com/content/flight-attendants-reveal-the-first-things-they-notice-when-travelers-board-a-plane. Brian, a flight attendant in this article says, "If you bring us anything: newspaper, magazines, candy bars, a thank you note (not love notes), origami, really anything that acknowledges that we are human beings...you will have unlocked the keys to the kingdom." I'm planning on bringing some Hershey's chocolate candies to give to my FA when I fly in August (an 8 hour flight). It can't hurt, right?

Posted by
2841 posts

I haven't done this, but I have read about giving them chocolate-and who wouldn't appreciate that?

Posted by
5689 posts

Hmmm ...unless management had been sending out "secret shoppers" to test hiw well flight crew dealt with an airline's no-tipping policy.
@Norma -- that was your first Southwest flight? I used to fly SFO-LAX often and enjoyed the jokes / songs which no other airline had --professional doesn't have to mean stuffy.

Posted by
16165 posts

Sounds like bribery to me. Candy for flight attendants so you get special attention? I'd be a bit miffed if I thought that other people were getting special service by giving gifts to the cabin crew. When I am riding in coach, I think we should all be ignored equally.

Posted by
1275 posts

I periodically watch YouTube videos by a 2 or 3 flight attendants. I've seen at least one who suggests bringing gifts and goodies, candy, and strangely enough, a cup of coffee. Talk about dangerous if still hot, and a way to slow down the process. I think acting like a polite grownup is the way to go, tho the vision of handing out small origami is intriguing, but where would a flight attendant stash. Something crushable when they are helping with the boarding process?

Posted by
444 posts

I use to fly the same route 3 or 4 times a month. It was a short flight of about an hour. Always the same crew so sometimes I would buy $5 gift cards to an airport coffee shop for all of them, pilots included. They flew this route all day so a good cup of coffee helped them I hope. I didn't expect anything in return and don't think they treated me any different.

Posted by
1642 posts

I believe flying international or domestic, travelers should be courteous and respectful of the crew and fellow passengers.

Greeting the attendants as you board with a big smile and a hello can go a long way. Follow overhead etiquette so the FA's don't have to police the bins.

When it is announced to turn off all devices and buckle up, do it! When told to store your bag underneath, do it! Just because there is any empty seat, does not mean it's reserved for your bag. When the FA tells you (twice now) to put your seat in the upright position, do it! It's so irritating when travelers ignore the rules.

When deplaning, thank the Captain, Co-Pilot and FA's standing as you exit. I thank them for a smooth take off and landing.

Posted by
11450 posts

Jeans answer is the best I think.. and how I try to behave.

I too find it disturbing that the crew would accept food gifts from flyers for same reasons as Trayla parks noted.

My friend works for a major canadian airline.. they have a no tipping policy.

This strikes me as more of a bribe however.. I would never do it myself.

And now a days.. its highly unlikely that you'll get upgraded to first class for a box of chocolates.. lol.. maybe 10-15 yrs ago.. ( my family with our three children under 15 got upgraded once to first class.. just because we had been delayed on way home from a cruise and kids were in their tropical clothes when we landed in a snowstorm at one connecting airport.. no way would they upgrade five people who had bought the cheapest tickets to first class anymore.. lol )

Posted by
4411 posts

I've seen a very similar post on Fodors, turned out it was a troll post.

Posted by
2650 posts

These kinds of threads are always fun. You get the prudent posts (Jean). The hilarious posts (Sam). And the kill-joy posts (I’ll let you decide).

Posted by
4536 posts

Just a personal anecdote. A few years back I was on a day return cheap flight within Europe just to meet up with a friend for a few hours. Outward I used an upgrade coupon for business and after the meal was served I had a bit of a talk with the attendant, and somehow we got onto the topic of the airline that was ending this route a week later, and how I remembered using it over the years. Coming back I was surprised to see the same crew, because on my seat assignment it had been a different type of plane (apparently they had a slight technical problem which meant they had swapped the return with the next service to fix it). I sat in my seat in the middle, but after the safety briefing there was an announcement requesting me to join the crew in business class and there was a (small) bottle of champagne on the seat they showed me to.

Posted by
1683 posts

I wish I could go back in time and be on one of those 1960s/early 1970s flights where the men dressed in suits and ties. I wonder what that experience was like? Nobody in pajamas with comfort animals.

As for gifts how about $20 bills? Cash is the universal gift. Candy/doughnuts? High sugar, calories, and carbs.

A gift at the end of the flight seems more appropriate, as a gift upon boarding could be construed as a bribe.

Posted by
276 posts

ByGodVirginia.... if it meant I could get out of my middle snail box seat I’d stoop to bribery. 🍳🎂🥂🥐👨🏻‍🍳 more suggestions please.

Posted by
8293 posts

Really . . . . all this palaver about spreading largess around to employees who are well paid to do their jobs properly in the first place, in the hope that the flight attendant will be nice to you, maybe bring you an extra blanket or a second dessert. Oh, and by the way, have you ever tasted what passes for champagne on airplanes? This topic reminds me of special little gifts for the grade school teacher in the hope that your kid will get good marks.

Posted by
1683 posts

highland, how about getting a window seat so you can rest your head against it?

Being in the middle seat have you ever had someone rest their head against your shoulder? That would be aw shucks sweet.

Norma, I don't know how people drink any alcohol on planes. Once I did that thinking it would help me sleep, when all that resulted was feeling even more dehydrated and lousy upon reaching my destination. Darn you people that can sleep on overseas flights!

Posted by
1978 posts

Being something of old curmudgeon myself I can understand the skepticism here - I was pretty skeptical myself when I first observed what my business associate was up to, believing that it was just a cynical ploy to get special treatment on the long flight.
That changed for me when he explained that he was doing it as a simple gesture of thanks to people who didn't often receive much acknowledgement for working in a difficult environment, ie having to interact on a daily basis with people who seemed to be spring-loaded to crabby no matter what accomodation they received. Maybe some of you will recognize the type.
I also noted how the attendant's faces would light up upon receipt of the small gift ackowledging their humanity. So, I've been a convert ever since.
In an age where air travel in general has become such an ordeal for cabin crew and passengers alike, I really don't see an issue with a random act of kindness that might lighten someone's day.

Posted by
6074 posts

The OP's original remark was not about thanking them for doing a difficult job but to "have a positive effect on flight experience". Thats pretty clearly a selfish reason, not gratitude.

If you're tipping them (that's really what it is) before the flight starts, that's hard to construe as anything but attempting to curry favor. Hard job? Crabby people? If I see my fellow passengers getting better seats, an extra ice cube or extra peanuts by slipping the FA a fiver, then you'll see crabby. Tip the pilot to get a better landing while you're at it, the luggage handlers to not crush your bag, the TSA guy for a nice gentle pat-down. . . . .

Posted by
8293 posts

Yes! Yes, Stan. You said it so much better than I did. Thank you.

Posted by
7717 posts

Back in the 1970s a Dutch friend who was a hostess for a charter flight company told me Americans were the worst of her customers. It was mainly linguistics.

She said that Europeans would say—Excuse me. Could I have a glass of water, please,— while Americans would say—Gimme a glass of water. Perhaps intent was the same for the speakers, but the American directness battered the crew. Excuse me, please, thank you, and could may be the best gift of all.

Forget waxy and oversweet chocolates.

Posted by
3469 posts

Anyone expecting to be upgraded to business/first by giving the flight attendants a $5 Starbucks card will be highly disappointed. First, on the airlines I fly, flight attendants have zero say as to who gets upgraded, the gate agents have the last say. And second, business/first will have all of the empty seats filled with the higher level frequent flyers on the flight before the plane even closes the door.

If you do this and are expecting any sort of treatment over and above what the rest of the passengers will get on the flight, you are also going to be disappointed. In economy, they are simply too busy trying to get everyone their half a glass of soda to spend any extra time or effort on any one passenger. And what could they do for you? Give you the whole can of Coke instead of the 3 ounces in the cup packed with ice? Maybe bring you a blanket and not charge for it? In business and first, they are already giving you service that is over and above (or they should be, otherwise what's the point?).

On the long haul flights to Europe, there can be 20 flight attendants on a 777. That would be a lot of gift cards! I find a couple pounds of chocolate is really appreciated whether or not they actually eat it. And yes, some may have a chocolate allergy, some may have a peanut allergy, some may have a strawberry allergy, and so on. Since you probably don't know any of the attendants personally, they will be happy with the thought more than what the gift is.

The best thing you can do is actually listen to the flight attendant when they talk to you, smile when appropriate, and answer their questions with a please or thank you. Take off your earphones! Don't shout an answer at the attendant that has nothing to do with what they asked because you didn't hear the question with your noise cancelling earphones on! I got my 1st choice on a dinner by actually paying attention to the attendant's questions after being told it was not available when an attendant had the guy sitting next to me shake his empty glass in her face and yell "SCOTCH!!" when she was asking which dinner he wanted.

Frontier Airlines is actively requesting you tip their flight attendants when they serve you a drink or snack. Their in flight credit card machines now provide a tip line to fill in.

Posted by
1642 posts

It may be particular to some airlines, but, I always got a full can of gingerale when asked. I don't like ice, so it was a win-win. If I wanted water, they gave me a full sized bottle or two little ones.

I don't drink on the plane. I can speak from experience -- I've seen some FA's give passengers (each) two bottles of wine -- maybe 4-6 oz? Depends on the FA. They are the ones who can assess. I had a courteous seat mate who was careful with his wine -- filled the little plastic cup 1/2 way and capped the rest until he was ready for another.

BA FA's have handed out snack/protein bars and other little goodies -- like pudding -- maybe they had extra on hand, I don't know.

I think the best thank you to a Flight Attendant, (the Captain too) as well as your fellow seat mates, is to be compliant, patient, courteous, and follow the rules to minimize FA's having to walk the aisles to reprimand or mediate.

Wait your turn when you see the food/drink carts come down the aisle. If you have excess trash after they collect the first round, try to catch one and ask if they can bring by a bag. What some people do with their trash....I wonder how they live at home then.

One time, I ordered chicken pasta as my meal. They ran out since it was popular. The FA offered me something different of course that was not too bad. Hey, I didn't starve. I didn't make a big deal. The FA later returned with little goodies for me as a gesture. I appreciated it.

Some travelers are out of control with their attitudes, rudeness and their self-absorbed entitlements. That gets checked right away.

Posted by
10048 posts

If you smile, say please and thank you, pay attention to them when being spoken to and generally having good manners will probably put you in the top 10% of airline passengers.

The only time I ever gave an FA a gift was a few weeks ago. Flying back to the U.S. I was chatting with an FA and found their crew hotel was near where I stay. She told me she liked a certain Lebanese restaurant in the area. I happen to have some discount coupons to that restaurant and gave them to her. She was thrilled.