Savvy travelers know to tip the taxi driver, the airport skycap, the hotel bellman and the restaurant’s waiter. But what about the flight attendant?A surprising 27% of some 900 respondents to a poll posted by Airfarewatchdog, said they give gratuities, 20% as thanks for a job well-done and 7% as a reward for being made more comfortable. Despite the exchange of cash, Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, says “Passengers should not tip flight attendants because flight attendants should not accept tips. As professionals, as first responders, just like police and fire fighters, a flight attendant’s first mission is to maintain the safety and security of passengers in the cabin.”
United Airlines and many other carriers explicitly forbid flight attendants from accepting tips. “I’ve complimented flight attendants and pilots on a job well done as I’ve been leaving the plane, “says New York publicist and frequent flyer Mara Begley. “But I haven’t actually tipped them.”
What if the flight attendant goes above and beyond, finding extra pillows for your 92-year-old mother with sciatica or providing a near limitless supply of wet wipes to clean the upchucked lunch your queasy toddler dumped on the stranger sitting next to you?
“United does appreciate hearing positive comments about our crews and employees,” says Luke Punzenberger. “We recommend that passengers go to our website to share their experiences.”
Since other travel industry employees receive tips, says George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog founder, “I see no reason not to tip flight attendants. But my preferred way of saying thank you is to bring on boards a (factory sealed) container of chocolates, shortbread cookies, or other treats.”