Should a flight attendant personally accept tips? At least one American airline thinks so.
US ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines introduced tipping in 2016, using a tablet-based system that allows cabin crew to choose when and when not to give passengers the option to tip.
But the Denver-based airline has now authorized its crew to individually accept gratuities.
“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 Bloomberg .
“It’s entirely at the customer’s discretion, and many do it.”
However, the union that represents Frontier workers says the move could distract staff from the issue of employee contracts, over which it has been bargaining with the airline for two years.
“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,” said Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, which also objected to the introduction of tipping three years ago.
Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, which analyzes the travel industry, said the new system could “really complicate the culture at Frontier”.
“I think it’s just like in a restaurant and, frankly, not an image the airlines want to have,” he remarked, adding that the new policy could also affect the consistency of service.
Ms Nelson said “better transparency” and fairer tip distribution were among the reasons Frontier attendants pushed for the policy change.
According to Bloomberg, Freed said attendants had earned “millions of dollars” in tips since 2016.
Would you ever consider tipping airline crew?
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