Tipping culture is so ubiquitous in the U.S., that you might be thinking that you should also tip flight attendants, too.
After all, you tip food and drink servers, drivers, hairdressers, housekeepers, the concierge, and many more people who provide a service, so why not flight attendants, too?
Generally, there is no need to tip flight attendants and most airlines don’t even allow flight attendants to accept tips, either.
However, there can be exceptions depending on the airline you are flying with, though a tip is by no means expected like it is when in a restaurant, for example.
But are there also exceptions if you’re flying in first class or business class?
What about when a flight attendant has gone above and beyond their duties? Should you tip them then?
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Should You Tip Flight Attendants?
There’s no doubt that flying in first class is expensive, and passengers also tend to get better treatment because there are fewer people in the first class cabin.
Regardless, first class passengers are not required or expected flight attendants.
In business class, passengers are also not expected or required to tip flight attendants.
Most of us travel economy, and again, tipping flight attendants is not expected or required.
Compared to airlines, there are fewer private jet charter companies that don’t allow flight attendants to accept tips.
However, even if you’re flying private, there is still no requirement or expectation to tip a flight attendant.
What About Flight Attendants Who Serve Alcohol?
Some airlines provide an option to tip on the payment tablet when you pay for a drink on a flight.
Even though the option is there, a flight attendant by no means expects a tip after having served you a drink.
You definitely won’t get a bad look from flight attendants if you don’t tip them after they have served you a drink, like you definitely would in a restaurant or at a bar.
Airline Rules For Tipping Flight Attendants
Generally, if we’re talking worldwide, it’s rare for an airline to allow their flight attendants to accept tips.
In the U.S., United actually prohibit their flight attendants from accepting tips, too, while other airlines may allow their flight attendants to receive tips as an option in payment systems, though it is by no means expected.
Frontier, for example, state:
“We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so [the payment tablet] gives passengers the option to tip; it’s entirely at the customer’s discretion, and many do it.”
Many airlines also offer rewards programs where passengers can recognize cabin crew
What the Association of Flight Attendants Says About Tipping
The Association of Flight Attendants, which is a flight attendant union organized by flight attendants for flight attendants and has over 50,000 flight attendants as members, is opposed to tipping.
The Association of Flight Attendants state:
“Tipping is not part of a Flight Attendant’s compensation for serving as aviation’s first responders. Flight Attendants are certified for our safety, health, and security work. Safety is not variable and therefore base compensation for a safety job cannot be variable.”
How to Thank Flight Attendants
Now you know that there is no need to tip flight attendants, what is the best way of showing your appreciation?
You can give a flight attendant a gift card or other small gift to thank them for a job well done.
A thank-you card or handwritten note can also go a long way and is something that flight attendants will appreciate.
A simple thank you to flight attendants after the flight and being polite and courteous during the flight will also suffice, too.
Tweeting an airline the name of a flight attendant along with the flight number of the flight you took is an excellent way for the flight attendant to be recognized and will definitely be appreciated.
As mentioned earlier, many airlines offer rewards programs where passengers can recognize cabin crew, too.
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).