Why Can’t Flight Attendants Accept Tips?

At least 27 perent of flyers have offered a flight attendant a tip.

Flight Attendant on airplane
Photo: Getty Images

Sure, flight attendants will pour you a drink, but they are safety professionals first and foremost—not service staff. The average flight attendant makes $18 per flight hour, meaning tips aren't expected as part of their wages. To avoid any misunderstanding, most airlines make it a company policy for flight attendants to refuse tips (unless a passenger may otherwise be offended).

"Flight attendants used to have to be registered nurses because the aircraft cabins weren't pressurized," a representative from the Association of Flight Attendants told T+L. "It's [really] a safety professional role, with a mask of customer service in there," she added.

And while airplanes are certainly much safer now than ever before (odds of being in a crash are 1 in 5.4 million)

If your attendant went beyond the call of duty, show your appreciation by being extra kind: and let the airline know. Your good review will be used to evaluate performance and could ultimately lead to a pay raise. And who wouldn't prefer a pay raise to a one-time tip?

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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