There’s no doubt that tipping culture can be confusing, especially post Covid.

Not many passengers need the service of wheelchair attendants, so there isn’t an unspoken rule of how much you should tip, like there would be when going to a restaurant or a bar.

As a general rule, I recommend tipping a wheelchair attendant a minimum of $5, but then you should consider other factors to decide whether to tip more or not.

  • Was the wheelchair attendant kind and friendly?
  • How far did they take you? Was it just a short distance or a long distance to your gate?
  • Did they take you through security, customs and immigration?
  • Did they help you with your luggage?
  • Did they help you with additional tasks, such as taking you to the restroom, or stopping by the gift shop?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I recommend tipping an additional $2 for each, though you may want to tip even more depending on if your wheelchair attendant really went above and beyond, or was with you for a long time.

tipping jar

Airport wheelchair attendants don’t make much money, and like many other service based roles, they rely on tips.

Additionally, given the service a wheelchair attendant provides, it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve a tip.

Tipping Wheelchair Attendants Abroad

Tipping is far less common in other countries – or at least the tips that are expected and given are far less.

But should you also tip wheelchair attendants when flying internationally?

In my opinion, you should still tip a wheelchair attendant abroad, though you may want to adjust the amount depending on the country.

When You Shouldn’t Tip

If a wheelchair attendant pushes you a very short distance, such as just from the gate to the plane, there is no need to leave a tip.

If the attendant was rude, unhelpful, or otherwise provided a very poor level of service, it’s up to you to decide if you feel that they deserve a tip.

Generally, you won’t run into rude, unhelpful wheelchair attendants often, if at all, though.

Why People Think It’s Okay Not to Tip

While this isn’t as common in the U.S. as it is in other countries because we’re all used to tipping, some people think that tipping a wheelchair attendant simply isn’t necessary because it is a service provided by the airline.

Given the high price of flight tickets, some people think that spending even more on your flight seems unnecessary.

While Federal law may require airlines to provide a wheelchair or motorized cart to any passenger who requests one, airlines contract from the outside and pay the attendants a very low wage.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).