New year, new rules, and for Frontier Airlines it’s a bit of an odd one. From the 1st January 2019, Frontier have decided you shouldn’t be satisfied with paying for your ticket, your bag, your priority boarding and everything else. Now they also want you to stick your hand in your pocket and tip the cabin crew for serving you!
The new rule means that when the flight attendant brings you your drink, you’ll be presented with the payment machine which shows the amount you have to pay. Under this, a large banner reads ‘Gratuities are appreciated!”
You then have the option of choosing a 15%, 20% or 25% tip, or entering a custom amount. You can, of course, choose not to tip also. Whether that will mean you get less attentive service remains to be seen.
Should you tip cabin crew?
By Jove, they get a wage, don’t they? But then, so do waitresses, taxi drivers and porters, but we happily (or unhappily) agree to tip them, don’t we?
Answering the question of whether cabin crew should be tipped is not as straightforward as you might think. Particularly in the US, where tipping is a way of life, expressing gratitude for a great service is perhaps something we should all be considering.
Across the industry, some airlines allow tipping and others do not. Some give out coupons to employees who go above and beyond, so that they can be recognised. On American Airlines, each coupon is a raffle entry to a quarterly draw for cash.
Being a flight attendant can be a tough, dirty and exhausting job (particularly if your kid is hell bent on defacing the aircraft) and it doesn’t tend to come with the expectation of a tip. But, if you want to give a monetary tip to say thanks, when you fly Frontier, you can!
Of course, what you don’t want to happen is for the airline to grab all those tips. They get enough of our money, right? But thankfully Frontier have confirmed that only the cabin crew member you tip will end up with the money. Talking to The Points Guy after a recent flight, Frontier said:
“Frontier does not keep any portion of earned tips. Currently tips are shared amongst all members of the flight attendant crew on a given flight. Effective January 1, 2019, flight attendants will earn tips on their individual sales.”
When pressed regarding whether gratuities were extra earnings for flight attendants or a consequence of their earnings, Frontier replied:
“Both. Many flight attendants see the inflight tip program as a way to supplement their income.”
According to the US government’s Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average cabin crew member makes $44,860 per year. In comparison, waiting staff will make around half that, and literally rely on tips for financial survival.
On the upside, the prospect of tips may result in better service, with flight attendants incentivised to keep checking for additional orders in the cabin. However, we can’t help feeling it’s somewhat demeaning to these highly trained employees, who are so much more to us than simply waiting staff in the sky.
A better way to say thank you?
If you’re not into tipping (or, like me, are from the UK where tipping is SO not a thing) you can still recognise excellent service in many ways. For a start, a simple yet heartfelt ‘thank you’ will go a long way to making their day.
We live in an era where passengers frequently act like they’re the kings and queens of the aircraft, and flight attendants are frequently subjected to rudeness, a lack of consideration and downright abuse.
If you want to go further than a verbal acknowledgement of great service, a personal recommendation can go a long way. You can write to the airline to commend an employee, or, even easier, use social media to report on a particularly great experience.
By letting the management know about their good work, maybe that person will get an award from the airline, or be recommended for a pay upgrade or promotion?
In some ways, not tipping flight attendants could be a good thing. The last thing we want is to create another culture of tip dependent employees. Far better that those who work for airlines continue to campaign for fair wages and good working conditions than we start subsidising what the carriers should be doing anyway.