You plunk down $600 for a flight from New York to St. Louis, spend an hour in the security scan line, shuffle onto the plane like cattle, then cram into seat B in row 32, where you’ll be for the next three hours because your flight just got delayed.
And now flight attendants think you should tip them for giving you half a flat Coke in a plastic cup.
At least one airline does, anyway. Frontier Airlines is now encouraging flyers to tip, as flight attendants began accepting individual tips on January 1, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Before then, stewards and stewardesses pooled tips, an option the airline began offering three years ago. But now each will keep his or her own tips.
“We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so [the payment tablet] gives passengers the option to tip,” Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed told the Tribune. “It’s entirely at the customer’s discretion, and many do it.”
Not everyone likes the plan.
The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents Frontier employees, objected to the introduction of tipping in 2016. “Management moved forward with a tipping option for passengers in hopes it would dissuade flight attendants from standing together for a fair contract — and in an effort to shift additional costs to passengers,” AFA President Sara Nelson wrote Friday in an email.
The union has been trying to reach a new contract with Frontier for two years. In November, the flight attendants voted to authorize a strike, although federal mediators have yet to declare the talks at an impasse.
“I think it’s just like in a restaurant and, frankly, not an image the airlines want to have.”
And the Los Angeles Times says Nelson said, “Regardless of the tip issue, Frontier Airlines needs to step up and pay aviation’s first responders a wage that recognizes their critical safety role onboard.”
CBS Denver reports that under the set up, “passengers who order refreshments get a prompt from Frontier’s payment system that they have the option to leave a tip.”
JT Genter, of ThePoints Guy travel blog, shared a photo of the payment tablet displaying a message that reads, “Gratuities Are Appreciated!” It offers customers the options of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent, “custom gratuity” and “I prefer not to leave a gratuity.”
“I’ve flown more than 350 flights on 51 different airlines in the past three years, but I’d never experienced an airline ask for a tip,” Genter wrote.
Genter expressed mixed feelings about tipping flight attendants.
“It feels a bit unprofessional for flight attendants to be seeking tips,” he wrote. But he conceded that it might motivate crew members to provide better service.
As someone who’s been to 106 countries, I can tell you this: The service can’t get much worse.