Can Flight Attendants Accept Tips?

A surprising proportion of people attempt to tip flight attendants even though it is not allowed. This article explains, “Can Flight attendants accept tips?”

Can Flight Attendants Accept Tips? The solution appears to be debatable. While we’re all accustomed to giving gratuities to the servers who bring us food at restaurants, pour us drinks at bars, or assist with luggage in hotels, most of us would never consider tipping the people who carry out the same tasks in the air.

Unexpectedly many people still attempt to tip flight attendants even though it is not expected of them. This is not to claim that it occurs on every flight, but most flight attendants have received a tip at some point in their careers. 

The majority of significant airlines prohibit flight attendants from accepting tips. However, a flight attendant may accept a tip, according to other airlines, if a customer demands it.

Because flight crews are paid a decent income, as opposed to restaurant workers, tipping is not customary. Additionally, many airlines prohibit the practice, and flight attendants risk being disciplined for accepting tips if given one.

As a result, after reading this post, we will ease all of your worries surrounding this issue. You will better understand the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Authority) policies governing the receipt of tips.

Let’s Begin!

Can Flight Attendants Accept Tips

Can Flight Attendants Accept Tips?

Although the problem has been debated in the past, the new occurrence has reignited the debate, with airlines taking different positions on it.

Some airlines, like United, forbid their staff from taking gratuities, whereas others, like Southwestern, do not initially permit flight attendants to accept or anticipate tips but would permit them to do so if a passenger insisted.

The two other low-cost American airlines, SpiritAirlines and Allegiant Air, do not offer the feature in their payment methods. According to Bloomberg, Allegiant has a formal policy against tipping.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have rewards systems where customers can thank the cabin crew.

What do the airline employee unions have to say about tips?

The idea of tipping flight attendants is opposed by flight attendant unions. A few years ago, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) issued the following statement:

“A Flight Attendant’s compensation for acting as the aviation industry’s first responders does not include tips. The work we do for safety, health, and security is certified for flight attendants. Since safety is constant, the base salary for a safety position cannot change.”

I’ve always thought this viewpoint was a little strange!

Unions exaggerate the role of flight attendants as “first responders” in aviation. While they play a vital role in the safety and should be acknowledged, the truth is that they spend most of their time providing excellent customer service rather than responding to emergencies.

It’s noteworthy that even though it might have a similar effect as permitting tipping, unions aren’t against cabin crew being paid for applications for credit cards (via the in-flight sales pitches).

How to express appreciation to flight attendants?

A few alternatives to tipping exist for showing appreciation to a flight attendant are the following:

  • You can just express gratitude to them for the excellent service and let them know how much you value it.
  • You can send the airline an email or a tweet expressing your appreciation for a particular staff.
  • Airlines’ elite members frequently receive “job well done” certificates that they can gift to staff workers who go above and beyond.
  • If you want to give a flight attendant something more concrete, a non-monetary present would typically be more well-liked and less contentious than a cash gift. This might be a box of chocolates or a Starbucks gift card.

The only airline which requests gratuities from flight attendants.

It’s important to note that the “no tipping” rule has one exception. Contrary to almost every other airline worldwide, Frontier Airlines aggressively promotes tipping. When you pay with a credit card on the ultra-low-cost carrier, you will be given the card transactions machine and offered the option to tip in the form of a portion of the purchase price.

A representative for Frontier Airlines explains the company’s policy:

“We value the excellent work that our flight attendants do, and we know that our passengers do too. Tipping is up to the consumer’s discretion, and many do it.”

Undoubtedly, many travelers are perplexed by this:

On the one hand, many people may feel cheap, not tipping, if they receive a service in the United States and are asked to do so.

However, even the flight attendant union for Frontier Airlines is against tipping, arguing that the company does it instead of paying its employees more.

Why don’t we give flight attendants a tip?

However, I believe this is an exciting topic to explore in light of the tipping culture in the United States. I am not aiming to initiate a campaign to start tipping flight attendants.

At least on domestic flights, you might get personal assistance for five hours, including food service and ongoing beverage refills. This may be the only situation—aside from a hospital—where you receive this level of service without being obliged to leave a tip.

But far too frequently, passengers express dissatisfaction with the level of service flight attendants offer. What criteria can we uphold when flight crews are mainly evaluated on their seniority number and receive no significant pay differential for working business class versus economy?

Restaurant service in the U. S. is typically far more focused than in Europe, and it is likely due in part to the fact that servers in this country are primarily paid in tips. I’m not saying that should be the case for flight attendants, but wouldn’t the service culture change if there was a variable compensation component tied to the quality of the services rendered?

Again, I’m not recommending that the current rules be changed; instead, I’m just pointing out that a lot of people are dissatisfied with the quality of service provided by cabin crew and that they work in one of the only service-related professions in the US where tips are not expected. That probably isn’t a coincidence.

When ordering a drink on an aircraft, there is a particular error you should avoid.

There are still specific regulations regarding working in the skies that aren’t precisely widespread awareness, even if working circumstances for cabin and flight employees are constantly changing. One obvious distinction is the norm of tipping bartenders or waitress after serving you a drink, coffee, or other refreshments while you are on the ground, but not the flight attendants who offer you drinks while you are in the air.

Even though working conditions for cockpit and cabin employees continue to evolve, there are still particular restrictions governing flying that aren’t well known. 

Why do some airlines remain ambiguous about accepting tips?

What is permissible in regards to mid-flight gratuity varies from airline to airline. According to USA Today, cabin employees on Southwest Airlines initially deny cash gratuities but are permitted to gracefully take them if the guest demands to pass them through. According to Bloomberg, certain airlines, including Frontier, have added gratuity choices when customers purchase in-flight refreshments on transaction tablets.

Despite confusing or contradictory policies, industry professionals say the main reason is that airlines do not want to appear to be encouraging gratuities outright—even when pandemic-era policies are eliminated. “Even though we restarted regular beverage service around six months ago, we only started serving alcoholic drinks in the main cabin again last month,” explains Steffanie, a primary airline flight crew with nine years of experience. “Some passengers are delighted and have begun tipping to express their gratitude.

What are the other ways to show appreciation to the crew cabin?

Even if you’ve misplaced your cash, alternative methods to express gratitude may sometimes go above and beyond. According to Travel & Leisure, several airlines, including Southwest and American, provide frequent fliers with the option to praise excellent service through specific programs that award them gift cards, products, and more. However, in most circumstances, getting out to the carrier to congratulate exemplary service is a significant gesture.

At the absolute least, the most significant aspect of thanking a flight attendant is being as patient, kind, and kind to them as you would to any other employee—especially after two years of uncertainty.

“Flight attendants are accountable for the overall safety of the aircraft. They are present when an emergency occurs, whether it is a medical or security issue or if there is something problematic with the plane. They need to evacuate everyone safely.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can airline workers accept tips?

The critical thing to know is that, in general, airline employees are not permitted to collect gratuities on the job. In contrast, airport staff — are frequently hourly employees who rely on your kindness to help pay the bills.

Is it permissible for flight attendants to receive presents from passengers?

Flight attendants are permitted to accept little gifts from passengers; there are no final regulations other than avoiding putting you both in an awkward situation: Attempts to bribe an upgrade with cash, for example, will simply not fly.

Can flight attendants become wealthy?

“You’ll never be wealthy as a flight crew, but you can get some influence over how much you earn.”

Do pilots take tips?

Tipping a pilot is not expected, specifically if a cabin attendant is on board. Pilots are given a wage, which increases with the aircraft size. A $50 spot for each pilot following the first leg of your journey, on the other hand, makes you their fan.

At the airport, who should you tip?

You should tip an outside baggage handler in proportion to the quantity of bags you have. According to “Consumer Reports,” “Trip Advisor,” and “U.S. News & World Report,” the standard tipping rate is somewhere between $1.00 and $2.00 per bag. Make the best decision you can.


We hope that your questions concerning “Can flight attendants accept tips?” have been answered. In general, airline unions and administration oppose tipping, one of the few points on which they can agree. There are other methods to express your appreciation, such as penning a message to a flight attendant who goes beyond the ordinary. We hope you found this helpful post. Thank you for sticking with us until the end!

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