Frontier Airlines is encouraging passengers to tip flight attendants for onboard purchases.
JT Genter, of The Points Guy, shared of a recent flight experience and provided photographic evidence. He ordered a ginger ale and after swiping his card, a FA handed the credit card portal (a tablet) back to him. It prompted him to either leave a 15%, 20%, 25% or no tip at all. There was also a small box to leave a custom gratuity.
Last year, tips would be pooled Starbucks-style and split evenly among crew members on a flight. That changed earlier this week. Now, Frontier FAs earn tips based upon individual sales. Frontier does not keep any portion of the tips.
An Essential Part of Income, Not A Supplement
Genter reached out to Frontier and asked if tips are supplemental income or “considered a consequential part of their earnings.” Frontier’s response is not surprising:
Both. Many flight attendants see the inflight tip program as a way to supplement their income.
And that is the primary reason why I am against this move. I don’t know how much FAs make on Frontier. But shifting further compensatory obligations to passengers amounts to consumer-funded corporate welfare. I know that is not a precise use of the term, but if the promise of tips is used as an excuse to offer flight attendants lower pay, consumers face a moral quandary every time they order a drink or snack. The FA union opposes tipping.
I am against tipping in general, but know it is a deeply-ingrained part of American life. I’ve started tipping on Uber even though I find the concept anathema to the brilliant original concept of Uber. Will I start tipping flight attendants? Sadly, I cannot say yes or no at this point. But I do dread the day that service levels will depended upon the generosity of your gratuity…
I can’t blame Frontier for trying to squeeze more money out of customers so it can pay its FAs less. At the same time, making living wages dependent upon passenger tips makes FAs desperate and customers guilty. It’s not a nice combination at all…
image: Tomás Del Coro / Wikimeida Commons