Tipping On a Plane – American Airlines Flight Attendants Are in Favor – Are You?

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In case you haven’t heard, Frontier Airlines flight attendants accept tips when you make on-board purchases.  And according to a loose Instagram poll, many American Airlines flight attendants would like that trend to spread.  YUCK.

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Whether it be serving buy on board food items, serving cocktails or serving up a little sass …(oh wait 😳), that cart can keep you busy. With the recent news of Frontier flight attendants accepting gratuity in flight (its a screen on their tablet with an option to leave gratuity when paying for food or drinks) , it’s opening up the big question::: should we all be getting tipped? My intention was to post the DM’s i received today from the posted poll about tipping, but I had far too many so I thought i would leave the comments open so you could share your thoughts below . (Keep it nice, please) 🙏🏼 This is my opinion on tipping flight attendants. First reaction: everyone else in the service industry is making tips. Why not flight attendants. After giving it some thought : We are here PRIMARILY for your safety. We have spent years gaining the respect in the industry as professionals. Furthermore, tipping would be income and income is taxed. I am not willing to take a pay cut to allow tipping. NOW…What one person said. We’re not going to turn down commission on food sales, gift cards, chocolates etc. I am not sure why we don’t earn commission on alcohol. Someone would have to set me straight on that one. Ok, your turn. Comment away … ….thanks to @jettingjulia for this pic that fell right in my lap for this subject 😘😘😘

A post shared by AASTEWS Living Life In The Sky (@aastews) on

Should American Airlines Begin a Tipping System for On-Board Purchases?

Instagram account aastews, followed by a community of American Airlines flight attendants, recently conducted a poll to see what American Airlines flight attendants thought of American Airlines instituting an on-board tipping option.  Fifty six percent of the 1,200+ votes were in favor of tips.

That’s a very small sampling of the currently 27,000 American Airlines flight attendants.  And the post comments have lots of interesting arguments, mostly against tipping:

  •  I feel like encouraging passengers to tip us cheapens our position as professionals and makes it harder for passengers to take us seriously as an authority on the airplane.
  • …[I]f we are so focused on the service and making tips we may get distracted from our safety related duties
  • I believe we should be able to accept any tip a customer wishes to provide.  But I fear if this were to become a regular thing, the company will use this against us for negotiations and pay raises.  There is always a caveat to everything.
  • Rather get a pay increase than tipped, if the company knows we are getting tipped why would they need to increase pay.

Others are (understandably) more open to the idea:

  • We are there for their safety, but somehow the guy that’s rung his call button 4x for extra drinks & ice – is becoming nauseating.  Multiply that by 20 & I think tipping makes sense.  If we just sat there & regulated safety with nothing else , I would see that part.  But we serve.
  • I agree with not wanting wages cut.  But I wouldn’t hate if people decided to tip us with cash, candy, or other small things more often – especially the main cabin passengers who have us running back and forth for things.

Uneducated Thoughts

Tipping is a two-edged sword.

I am really NOT a fan of it.  Not because I’m anti-generosity, but because workers who receive tips are usually paid VERY little in hourly wages.  It’s a carrot-and-stick scheme to goad employees into demonstrating kindness.

I’m no economist, and I’m sure the tipping structure allows many businesses to employ more folks than they would otherwise be capable.  All I know is that it’s a relief to visit countries that have NO expectations of a tip, like Switzerland and Brazil.  My experience with servers in these countries has been delightful.

A decrease in wages with the addition of tips is also a concern of many folks in the aastews poll.  On the customer side, would tipping affect our on-board experience positively or negatively?  If I carry on NOT tipping my flight attendant, will I now receive ruffled murmurs?

The last thing passengers want another “unexpected fee” during our travels.  Hopefully we don’t see tipping flight attendants become the norm.

Let me know what you think about on-board tipping (or tipping in general).  Do you think this would improve or retract from the travel experience?

Hat Tip:   Paddle Your Own Kanoo

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1 year ago

When I was a waitress during college and only made $2.10 an hour, of course I wanted tips. But if my employer had paid me a fair wage, I wouldn’t have needed any tips. It’s a matter of the companies paying their employees properly and also teaching and expecting them to give good customer service. I’ve been on airlines where they don’t even smile and are on their cell phones. Customer service is the US is long gone with most companies unfortunately.

1 year ago

Everybody has their hand out these days. I do believe it is mainly in the US as other countries are more rational. The flight attendent is already getting paid a decent wage (or why else would they be there?), so tipping is not an option. As I am commenting on tipping, anybody also getting a “living wage” ($15 an hour for a basically unskilled job), is also not getting tipped by me, or my friends as we have discussed this prior.

1 year ago

Yeah…No…Not tipping. Just do the job you are paid fairly for.

Jason Brandt Lewis
1 year ago

FA’s can’t have it both ways. The truth is constantly stressed by FAs, pilots, and all airline personnel (including in the “C-suites”) that they are *not* waiters or waitresses. They are onboard first and foremost for the safety of the passengers. They are highly trained to help in the event of an aviation emergency, and to keep us — the flying public — safe.

FAs are NOT, as Bill suggests, glorified waitresses (or waiters). Yet that is how many people — including Bill, apparently — view them.

Soliciting tips? Permitting that will confirm to people like Bill and others that their sole reason for being on board is to serve them food and drinks…and then get upset if/when they run out of their entrée option of choice, or if all they carry is Chivas Regal and not Johnnie Walker…

There is a LOT WRONG with how flight attendants are paid — who in their right mind believes that FAs only begin working once the door to the airplane closes? — but they are far from minimum wage employees…except perhaps at Frontier and Spirit.

1 year ago

Always said they are glorified waitresses

Andrew W
Reply to  Bill
1 year ago

Hi Bill!

An old colleague of mine was a flight attendant, and she let me know that there’s actually a lot that goes behind the scenes as far as ensuring the safety of everyone on the flight.

I think it’s easy to forget this because as passengers, we only see them serving food and drinks.

That said, I’m not sure how I feel about the tips. But I do know they play a very important role when it comes to the safety of the flight.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

1 year ago

As much as I appreciate their hard work I can remember how a “flight attendant” was referred to a “stewardess” in the past. They didn’t like how it was compared to a “Waitress in the sky”. They worked hard to claim they did so much more and they are here for the passengers safety. But now they want tips?

1 year ago

Why do we have to make things complicated with tips. So often I see now, “how much should I tip my hair dresser, my dog walker, my babysitter etc:. Just make things simple and pay them the right wage and do away with tips. I hate eating at a restaurant where there is poor service because now I have to be the one to deal with the discipline of how much of a tip I need to leave. That’s the bosses job and not mine. Tips put you in that awkward position. Let’s just do away with all tipping.

1 year ago

Tipping is out of control. I am sick of people expecting a tip for doing their job. I do tip very well when I go out to eat at a sit down restaurant, at hair and nail salons, when I get a massage and the uber driver, but that is it. I will not be tipping flight attendants any time soon.

1 year ago

Insane idea. Can’t anyone just do their job without getting tipped? The cattle car experience is bad enough already

1 year ago

If you have a poll like this ofcourse people wont mind free money. Flight attendent job is very respectful and they are kind of a boss of the cabin, they go through all the tough training for different situation, dont disrespect them by getting into this srupid tip culture. The flight attendents who are saying yes to tipping in the poll should find another job.

1 year ago

I agree. I’m not a fan of tip culture. The trend seems to be it’s increasing, not the other way around. I bought a coffee at the airport recently. The coffee was completely self service, I poured my own coffee, but had to buy the cup at the register. The guy at the register told me he would really appreciate it if I could spare a tip. There was even a place for the tip to be added on my credit card receipt. I left a dollar on there, but after reflecting on it, it really bothered me. Not that I gave a dollar to someone that can probably use it more than me, but it’s not really even a tip. There was no fantastic service. It’s basically just asking to give money for nothing. There was no service other than handing me a cup that I was paying for. Does every transaction deserve a tip? Should we pay more to receive service at all? Should I tip the Uber Eats driver? I usually tip in all cases because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it and not feel any real impact. But there are those that aren’t in my situation, and an extra 20% on basic transactions will definitely impact them. I don’t like the direction this is going.

Reply to  Lancelot
1 year ago

Hello Lancelot, In answer to your question, should I tip the Uber Eats Driver, the answer is yes. They are providing a service that allows you to be able to order take out and not have to worry about having to go out to pick it up yourself. A few bucks is greatly appreciated because they use their own car and gas to bring you your food for very little pay. It is also nice to tip your Lyft and Uber drivers if you use the service for the same reason. They rely on the tips received from generous people to make up a portion of their earnings

Reply to  Melanie
1 year ago

Thanks Melanie. I was asking rhetorically. 🙂 I always do tip my Uber Eats driver, even if they’re running late or squished my food. Why? Because of what you mentioned. I feel bad they don’t make enough with the job they’ve accepted, so I feel obliged to give them more money.

I think tips should be given as financial grattitude for excellence, but it’s turned into something totally different. It’s some type of weird charity system based on the amount of money you’re spending.

If you’re spending more, you’re expected to tip more. So if you’re a waiter/waitress, you’re hoping someone will order the surf’n turf paired with the rare French wine, and not the chicken paired with white Zinfandel.

Same effort to serve either pairing, but the tip amount will vary drastically.

Andrew W
Reply to  Lancelot
1 year ago

I’m surprised they specifically asked for a tip. I feel like that’s kind of stepping over the line!

I’ll agree that there are many situations where I feel like a tip shouldn’t even be presented as an option. I’m a bit iffy on providing a tip for picking up my food to-go…but I do anyway because I’ve veen conditioned my entire life to tip.

That said, the most common situation I find myself tipping is when I eat out at a sit down restaurant. I’m a pretty generous tipper, usually at least 20%, because I know many of these waiters and waitresses depend on the tips to survive. And I figure if I can’t afford it, I shouldn’t be eating out at all, at least not at a nice sit down restaurant.