Should You Tip Flight Attendants

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If you’re wondering if you should tip your flight attendant on your next flight, the simple answer is no, a tip isn’t needed unlike Why You’ll Want To Tip Your Hotel Maid, however there are some exceptions where you may want to consider.

In the United States, tipping is generally not expected for flight attendants and is pretty rare. If you receive exceptional service, such as never having your glass less than full in the first class cabin, or a flight attendant going out of their way you could offer a tip as gratitude.

Rather than giving cash, another option is to give a gift card. Having some $5 Starbucks gift cards in your bag, and giving one to a crew member could go a long way. If you’re in coach, you could find yourself being comped drinks, given a first class amenity kit, or more. However, you should never expect something in return when giving a tip, after all this isn’t Vegas meaning a $20 isn’t going to get you upgraded to business class.

We reached out to one Southwest Airlines flight attendant who gives us some insight:

As a flight attendant, we don’t expect tips and don’t need them to survive as our pay comes from our employer. It’s actually pretty rare that I receive tips on my flights and is definitely not the norm. I can remember my last tip was a couple of months ago on a transcontinental flight to Las Vegas. One of the passengers gave me a $20, which was not expected nor needed. However, I did go ahead and them comp him his next couple of drinks. As we are a cashless airline, when passengers are paying for drinks it’s with a credit card, so they’re not likely to reach in to their wallet and pull out cash. When we accepted cash several years ago, I would get probably tipped at least once a day.

Some airlines make their flight attendants decline tips all together as the service that is provided is part of the employees job.

Have you ever tipped a flight attendant before? If so, what prompted you to tip, and did you receive anything special in return. Feel free to share your comments below. 

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  1. Most airlines have strict rules and policies against employees accepting gifts or gratuities. My favorite airline does, but I still dole out Starbucks cards like it’s my job. Loyalty has privileges and they are doing their best. My motto is “bribe, don’t imbibe”

  2. I was told by a UA staff that tips are strictly forbidden, for obvious reasons. Tips amount to bribery. An FA pouring free drinks for a tip is exchanging company property for personal gain.

  3. I was traveling first class on company business. . I was really uneasy but found all the extras like a glass of wine, snacks never ending and a delightful stewardess truly enjoyable. I think she realized I was an anxious flyer and made it a point to make the 16 hour flight enjoyable. When dinner came there were these super tiny ceramic salt and pepper shakers on my tray that I was enamored with. They were just cute. I happened to have a solid silver half dollar in my pocket that I gave to her for her kindness. She was German and noted Kennedy face on the coin. It was a mere trinket but as I went to get off the plane she tucked a small package in my pocket and smiled. Later I discovered the salt and pepper shakers wrapped so delicately. It was over 20 years ago, I still have those shakers and will never for get the kindness of that stewardess. Tips maybe not but kindness and consideration always.

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