Is It Ever OK to Tip a Flight Attendant? Here's What the Experts Say

Flight Attendant Smiling
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Should you tip a flight attendant for good service? Turns out the answer is up for debate. While we're all used to regularly tip the servers who bring us food at restaurant, serve us drinks at bars, or help carry bags in hotels, most of us would never think of tipping the men and women who perform those same services in the sky.

Tipping flight attendants is not the norm, partially because flight attendants are paid a living wage, unlike restaurant servers. Plus, many airlines ban the practice and flight attendants could get in trouble for accepting tips, if they're offered. However, some airlines leave it up to customers. USA Today recently addressed the topic and found that at Southwest Airlines, if a passenger insists on giving a flight attendant a tip, the crewmember is allowed to accept it. One flight attendant on a Vegas flight even got a $600 tip from a high roller.

Over at the View From the Wing blog, travel pro Gary Leff says tipping is up to the passenger—and the flight attendant. If a passenger offers a tip and the flight attendant turns it down, don't push. To make things less awkward, he suggests handing out small tokens like Starbucks gift cards or wrapped chocolates or cookies.

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Another way to show your appreciation for a job well done is to take the time to write their employer a nice letter about their service, which could go a lot farther than a $10 bill. It's easy to write a thank-you note, too, especially if you're social media savvy. Simply tweet it out, tagging the airline on Twitter, or find the airline's Facebook page and write a quick note, mentioning the flight and the flight attendant by name, if possible. If you prefer a more classic method, send a note to the airline's customer service email address.

Or, as USA Today suggests, perhaps the best way to show gratitude for a job well done is to simply say two little words—thank you.

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