Taken a U.S. flight recently? Think back to all of times you were able (or felt obliged) to tip along the way: the taxi driver, the shuttle driver, the server at the airport restaurant, the hotel bellman. Tipping just comes with the territory in America, especially when you’re the flying the friendly skies.
Except, of course, when it comes to the flight attendants on your plane. Not counting the pilots themselves, this group of service professionals will almost certainly do the most for you — and take the most sh*t from you — during the entire journey. So why don’t we tip the high-altitude caretakers who help make our lives and journeys a bit more comfortable and safe? Perhaps it’s high time that we did.
Flight attendants may earn a higher salary than most of the other professions above but it’s not a great living, and wages (and pensions) among many U.S. carriers have dropped since 9/11. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary in 2015 was $44,860, though entry-level positions are often closer to $23,000. Flight attendants must also often get up at all hours of the day and night, travel countless miles, breathe stale air for hours on end, work on holidays, and deal with a steady stream of often-irritable air travelers.
Etiquette experts advise that tipping flight attendants is neither necessary nor conventional, and indeed the policies of most airlines prohibit attendants from accepting gratuities. But it does…