Flight attendants often aren’t well paid, though they do benefit from travel and in some cases scheduling flexibility.
Tipping is often against airline rules, but that doesn’t mean your crew won’t accept tips especially if you offer it again a second time once they decline.
Some travel providers give elite members coupons to give out to employees that go above and beyond with superior service. That’s the way they’ve wanted their employees recognized.
Here are the certificates American sends to Executive Platinum members (they’ve sent fewer certificates to Platinums and Golds as well):
In the case of American, each coupon is a raffle entry. They used to be called “Round of Applause” certificates, often referred to by frequent flyers as “AAplause” certificates. My understanding is that each month American would draw winners of prizes of AAdvantage frequent flyer miles. They’ve moved to the US Airways system and now do quarterly drawings for cash.
Another thing you can do is write to an airline to compliment a specific employee.
I’ve also known frequent flyers who bring boxes of chocolates for crew, and who carry gift cards with them to give out instead of cash. I’ve given out Starbucks gift cards to lounge agents, for instance. Having a few of those in my laptop bag is always handy, it’s less awkward than cash and always appreciated.
Outside of Las Vegas, and places where it’s clearly customary, I start to get a little uncomfortable with tipping. Often you’re paying an employee for having done something that may have run contrary to their employer’s interests. I’ve seen employees give out compensation liberally, but add a tipping dimension and one wonders if the incentives for the employee become very bad.
Do you do anything to thank the employees of airlines and hotels that you encounter along the way, and who do small kindnesses for you?
Being a flight attendant can be a tough job. It’s hardly the toughest, dirtiest, most disgusting job (though sometimes it seems that way) and it’s one voluntarily undertaken in exchange for a wage and travel benefits. Indeed, it’s a job that doesn’t come with expectations of a tip (in contrast to a waiter in a restaurant).
But goodness knows working in a metal tube at 35,000 feet now that flying has become super-democratic and passengers experience all manner of behaviors, requests, and abuses.
Would you tip with cash, and even insist the flight attendant take it? What kind of above and beyond, not just ‘being there for your safety’ would be needed before you’d consider tipping?