Shortly after writing a review of the new American Airlines Flagship First Dining in Los Angeles, Lucky at One Mile at a Time wrote a post with advice on tipping in the lounge.
You’re eating restaurant-quality food and receiving very personalized service. There’s a bartender and there are servers and most of the time in Flagship First Dining you’ll be the only one there being taken care of.
Flagship First Dining New York JFK
He points out that the Air Canada Signature Suite in Toronto has a policy against tipping, however he writes that “[t]ipping in Flagship First Dining is appreciated, but not expected.” He suggests,
The truth is that I think the servers appreciate any tips, because based on my observations a vast majority of people don’t tip. So I think even a $5 tip would be greatly appreciated. Personally I’ve tipped $20 every time I’ve used Flagship First Dining. In reality that’s probably less than 15-20% of the “fair value” of the meal, given that I have drinks, multiple courses, etc.
Corn Chowder with Corn Fritters, Flagship First Dining Miami
I took some exception to this. I don’t like tipping, it creates awkwardness and confusion, but I agree that’s frequently not the fault of the servers themselves.
At the end of your meal they present a thank you card that looks like a check along with airplane chocolates. Here’s the ‘check’ from Flagship Dining in Miami:
There’s nothing to sign. But when you’re presented with what looks like a bill psychologically you’re in the mindset to pay. I understand how someone might think that in Flagship Dining tipping is even expected.
I put the question to American’s Senior Vice President for Los Angeles Suzanne Boda who told me that tipping is not permitted in Flagship First Dining. That’s not just LA, it’s supposed to be standard across the First Dining locations. They consider First Dining, in LAX Managing Director Jim Moses’ words, “an extension of the cabin.”
In practice I’m sure that staff will accept tips if given, though it sounded as though it would be a major infraction for staff to be the ones suggesting it. Flight attendants aren’t allowed to accept tips, though they frequently will accept boxes of chocolate or Starbucks gift cards.
In terms of what’s actually expected though? No tipping in Flagship Dining.