This article is full of supposed "secrets" that most everyone knows about flying. But one thing it mentions is:

14. Tipping could go a long way.

My girlfriend is a flight attendant. NO ONE tips flight attendants. If you give your FA a fiver with your first drink you’ll probably drink for free the rest of the flight.

Is tipping a flight attendant acceptable? Is it even permitted? (I know many businesses won't accept tips in the US, for instance, to avoid the legal obligation to report tip income to the IRS.)

  • 2
    In many years of air travel, I have only once seem a passenger give a flight attendant a tip, and it was a small packaged food (not very valuable, also not very special). The flight attendant accepted it with a big smile. BTW, flight attendants do not accept cash on board - only credit cards.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 17 '15 at 18:59
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    BTW, flight attendants do not accept cash on board - only credit cards -- For tips? Or for purchases? Many accept cash for purchases. Some accept only cash. It depends on the airline.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:24
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    @pnuts I stand corrected. My comment applies only to the larger planes. The smaller planes do not have the electronics to accept credit cards, so they accept cash only. Thx for the correction.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 17 '15 at 20:25
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    Some of the other stuff in that article is really weird. Feb 18 '15 at 3:29
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    @Yehuda_NYC Finnair accepts cash for purchases.
    – downhand
    Feb 18 '15 at 13:46

As a flight attendant for years, NO, no one tips flight attendants. Flight attendants are usually paid very well, and in some cases, very very well. They are usually paid per hour in addition to a basic salary and many bonuses for having layovers out of town and other stuff. Tipping them would be considered offensive and an insult in most airlines anyway. Knowing many other flight attendants from many airlines around the world I can assure you that the tipping topic is always a source of amusement when we share stories about that.

If you want an alternative for tipping them, then a commendation letter or if the airline sends a survey after the flight to your email then give some good comments and mention the flight attendant's name.

Another way of tipping them, is using the magic words and asking less :) This is how flight attendants are tipped.

  • 1
    "mention the flight attendant's name" - how would you possibly find out about a flight attendant's name? Asking them seems rather nosy/borderline rude to me (but maybe it is acceptable in some cultures?), while reading the name badge usually requires prolonged staring at it to decipher the tiny text while it's moving - and staring at a female flight attendant's chest area (where the badge normally is) makes me feel uncomfortable for obvious reasons. Oct 25 '17 at 7:05
  • @O.R.Mapper it's normal for cabin crew to be asked about their names. I failed to see why this is rude to you. It's quite common for people working in the service industry to be asked about their names.. maybe it's a cultural thing? Oct 25 '17 at 8:34
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    Yes, probably it is a cultural thing. Here in Germany, I would feel very awkward about asking any stranger in service industry about their name. (In fact, I would be concerned they mistake it as trying to hit on them or establish any other kind of undesired non-business-related contact.) Good to know this can be done in some places. Oct 25 '17 at 8:39
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    Flight attendants are well paid? Not in the UK! It’s become very common for them to only be paid when the aircraft is moving, so if there’s a long delay they’re as annoyed, if not more annoyed, than the passengers. They get an annual allowance that’s supposed to cover such time but in reality it doesn’t. Some now have to pay for their own training and uniforms too. Definitely not a well paid job unless you work for the top dogs. Oct 25 '17 at 10:02

Please don't do this in India. Unlike in most advanced countries where the glamor of air travel has completely worn out, in India air travel is very glamorous and flight crew are treated like celebrities. So much so many of the cabin crew are from well-to-do families and would take serious offense if you were to tip them (out of goodness of your heart, of course).

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    Include Sri Lanka too.
    – AKS
    Feb 18 '15 at 21:06
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    Wow. Good to know +1 Feb 19 '15 at 9:55

I often have some goodies in the carry-on. If the crew is really nice I leave a bag in the rear galley. Factory-sealed, individually wrapped yummies go over quite well (fresh donuts are not too practical). More than once I've had an FA come by my seat and say something, the best comment being "We're going back on Wednesday" - implying they want me to join them.

Another way to get on the crew's good side is tell other passengers what they can't. My neighbors were demanding a free meal on short-haul, the FA wasn't getting anywhere, I jumped in with some rather pointed comments which made seats J and K stop their whining and got me free coffee + snacks with a smile.

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    @paut could you elaborate on "implying they want me to join them"?
    – Howdedo
    Apr 7 '16 at 19:54

It wasn't exactly tipping, but I did this on one trip. It was the holidays (I think Christmas eve and New Years eve), on 4 RJ flights in the US. I handed the FA Starbucks cards on my way off the plane, enough for the entire flight crew. It seemed to be well received. Its not something I do regularly, and not something I've seen anyone else do. Employees at the Regional's are not (in my understanding) well paid.


I have flown many dozens of times, I'm guessing 75 percent domestic, 25 percent international. I've tipped maybe 8 to 12 times, so not "usually". OTOH, I tip when I see a FA working hard and enjoying their job. I have never seen an FA even hesitate about accepting a tip. They have all accepted graciously which tells me it should happen more often.

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