If you buy something from a food truck and pay with a credit card, chances are you’ll be presented with a tablet to sign your name — and you’ll be given the option to tip even though there was no server or service. Many fast casual restaurants follow this approach now, too. And so does Frontier Airlines.
There’s been a lot of media coverage of Frontier Airlines’ policy of soliciting flight attendant tips when making an on board purchase, set off by JT Genter’s New Year’s Eve post about the practice.
Frontier used to pool all the tips and split them evenly across the crew. Now individual flight attendants keep the tips they generate.
I wondered what other flight attendants think of the practice, and whether they’d want it to spread to their airline. The ‘AAStews’ Instagram account shared feedback on the idea from American Airlines crew.
Today American Airlines flight attendants aren’t permitted to accept tips. Indeed, though many passengers do tip (and there’s that weird bill-looking thing that’s been presented to customers at the end of a meal) according to American Airlines Senior Vice President Suzanne Boda tipping in Flagship Dining is not permitted. Jim Moses, now Vice President for Philadelphia, told me a year ago that the reason is that the dining concept is “an extension of the cabin.”
But should they get tips in the cabin?
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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 😘😘😘
Flight attendants were clearly split on the issue, some wanting more money and others offering two arguments against the practice. The analytical responses, as opposed to those merely voting yes/no, were strongly against tipping. There are two general reasons,
- They don’t want the expectation of service that would come along with a tipping regime, they’re there primarily for your safety.
- They realize that there’s no free money. More tipping means lower wages. That’s how it works in restaurants and indeed that’s how it works at Frontier and their flight attendant’s union opposes tipping as a result.
One Frontier flight attendant commented,
Hi guys! Frontier flight attendant here! So the reason that we have been allowed to receive tips (and have for some time) is because we are paid substantially lower. They tell us it’s to supplement our income. Just like we get a bonus when someone turns in on our credit card applications with our employee number on it. The option is there to tip or not isn’t actually something a lot of us care about. I know I personally will skip that screen for people sometimes because they really don’t owe me anything for doing my job. But yeah, overall, it’s to help with our lower income. Love this page and would love to hear y’all thoughts! Happy flying!
Tipping doesn’t necessarily increase wages for employees overall over time.
- People are willing to take a job at a given wage
- Tipping is just one source for funding that wage
- More tipping means less pay
To be sure some employees will receive more tips than others, and a tipping regime where employees keep the individual tips they’re given will mean an unequal distribution of wages. It’s also possible that tipping plus a minimum wage (floor) could raise wages above their current level, which would also increase competition for jobs.
One comment I found interesting through is that flight attendants may feel they deserve commission not just on the credit card applications they collect that are approved but on their inflight alcohol sales.
I’d suggest they be careful what they wish for, Ryanair flight attendants were revealed to have inflight sales quotas:
Ryanair cabin crew are required to sell eight scratch cards each per day or face action, an internal staff memo shows….daily targets also include selling one bottle of perfume a day, one meal deal, and one item of fresh food.
I’m not sure it would be a good idea for flight attendants to view themselves as selling alcohol inflight, incentivizing them to get passengers to drink more. That can’t end well. It can only end up making a carrier’s flights resemble Ryanair’s.