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Frontier Airlines

Budget Airlines Are Asking for Tips Now?

Budget Airlines Are Asking for Tips Now?
Jennifer Billock

With the new year comes a new perk for Frontier Airlines employees: cabin crew will now be earning tips for the work they do throughout the aircraft, particularly after serving drinks; the ultra-budget airline says the new in-flight tip program is meant to help flight attendants supplement their income.

Frontier Airlines passengers are experiencing something completely new in the air travel world as of January 1—now, passengers are being asked to tip the cabin crew after they take drink orders. When customers pay, they’re given a tablet that encourages tipping and has easy touchscreen options for 15 percent, 20 percent, or 25 percent tips. There’s also an option to leave no tip.

“I’ve flown more than 350 flights on 51 different airlines in the past three years, but I’d never experienced an airline ask for a tip,” wrote JT Genter, who discovered the tipping scheme, reported by AOL News.

A Frontier Airlines spokesperson confirmed that flight attendants are now earning tips, AOL News says: “Currently tips are shared amongst all members of the flight attendant crew on a given flight. Effective January 1, 2019, flight attendants will earn tips on their individual sales. … Many flight attendants see the in-flight tip program as a way to supplement their income.”

The airline said the tips are meant to be both extra earnings and part of what the flight attendants should realistically be making, and has confirmed that the airline itself will not be making any money off the tips earned by the crew throughout the cabin.

View Comments (43)


  1. dhuey


    January 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Kinda runs counter to the idea that flight attendants are primarily safety professionals.

  2. makrom

    January 7, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Dear Lord that’s tacky. Even for a LCC, which says a lot.
    Is this really on top of their regular earnings like the airline claims, or did their salaries get cut in return?

  3. leonidas

    January 7, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Unbelievable. Why don’t we tip the pilot for flying us too? Or the gate agent for kindly allowing us to board the plane?

  4. JNLentertainment

    January 7, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    thats their job

  5. strickerj

    January 7, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    This looks like the first step toward reducing the cabin crew’s wages and making tipping de facto mandatory to make up the slack. The nickel-and-dimming of the ULCCs is reaching epic proportions.

  6. skidooman

    January 7, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Another fine reason not to fly these jokers.

    It is bad enough we need to tip in restaurants, while in Japan you get excellent service because this is what they do, tip free. It is worse when hotels start expecting you to pay maids through tips. But airlines? Sorry, that is downright ridiculous.

    “Supplement their income”? In other words, that means “we don’t pay them enough, please be generous with them”.

  7. rcurry01

    January 7, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Isn’t this concerning from a safety perspective? In the event of an emergency will people who tipped get help first? How can we be sure?

  8. jjmoore

    January 7, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Once again, another corporation asking customers to subsidize employees for simply doing their jobs. Shameful.

  9. FlyingNone

    January 7, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Ridiculous…….Pay your people a living wage; I’m not here to subsidize anything.

  10. JoeDaejeon

    January 8, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I’ve never flow Frontier, but after reading this, absolutely never will. I’d rather pay double the price on another airline that pays their employees properly, rather than expecting paying customers to subsidize their employee’s salary. Absolutely disgusting business practices in my book.

  11. fotographer

    January 8, 2019 at 3:49 am

    I feel the same about restaurants, pay your staff a decent wage and stop having customers pay the balance

  12. WorldLux

    January 8, 2019 at 5:39 am

    “We need anothe 100$ in tips. Otherwise, we have no alternative than to crash the plane”

  13. izzyizzo

    January 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Am I the only one who likes to tip a good FA? But it’s gotten tougher since cabins have gone to no-cash. This isn’t a horrible idea.

  14. JimInOhio

    January 8, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Is there an option for a negative percent?

  15. JimInOhio

    January 8, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Frontier’s stance on this (enabling electronic tipping) seems to be a stretch. When someone goes to a restaurant or bar, they are specifically going to be served and consume. Tipping makes sense for the service desired and delivered.

    By contrast, no one gets on an airplane to be served and consume. No, they are doing it to get from Point A to Point B. It’s hard to equate being handed from a drink cart to being waited on in a restaurant.

  16. kkua

    January 9, 2019 at 9:16 am

    That also means their tips will be closely monitored as additional REPORTABLE TAXABLE INCOME. Truly unfair that restaurant waitstaff already under-report cash tips, but the F9 flight crew cannot.

  17. stiphy

    January 9, 2019 at 11:06 am

    As much as people complain about service on planes they will now have some mechanism to control it (don’t leave a tip for bad service and leave a great tip for good service) so maybe that’s a positive outcome?

  18. zoey59

    January 9, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Frontier used to be the airline of choice for many of using the Denver hub. It had a nice status program then . So many changes and so many prior flyers no longer use despite the low fares-this is going to go down as a terrible idea.

  19. Helmut Jilling

    January 9, 2019 at 11:15 am

    If the service at my restaurants were as poor as most airlines… I wouldn’t tip at the restaurant either…. These feels like extortion… “Here sir, put your tip on this tablet!”

  20. esitver

    January 9, 2019 at 11:15 am

    I’ve worked as a waiter, understand the tipping dynamic there, and I tend to overtip in restaurants. However…

    A. Asking passengers to tip flight attendants is a step in tacky beyond retail establishments having tip jars on the counter. I don’t get it.

    B. Haven’t we always heard that cabin crew are there for our safety, and are not “waiters/waitresses?” So what quality of service are we tipping for? Will poor tippers be the last off the plane in an emergency? ;-)


    January 9, 2019 at 11:18 am

    When I flew back from London recently with American, the flight attendant said something that blew me away. She said “We’re here to serve you”. It was quite refreshing to hear that. I think we’ve all been conditioned into accepting that they are primarily here for our safety (although I am not sure if that’s what they are thinking when they dream of being flight attendants). Then when I think about this more, I think that as a customer facing professional my main job is to serve my customers so why have so many airlines taught their staff to believe that serving customers is somehow demeaning?

  22. cowboycork

    January 9, 2019 at 11:51 am

    As someone who is married to a Frontier FA, yes the tips are shared with all FAs on the plane, and yes it it taxable income. Don’t get me started on how underpaid FAs are for the hours “worked” (basically only getting paid when the cabin doors are closed!)… That’s not to say that tips are the way to make up for the slim salaries.

  23. JRW5362

    January 9, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Be warned. Frontier Airlines is the worst airline in the business. Worse than Allegiant! They canceled my flight August 11, 2018 (DEN-CID) and they left me stranded. It cost me neBarly $1500.00 to re-book a first class ticket (barely as there were few seats available) to Des Moines (DSM), where I had to rent a car to Cedar Rapids. Their compensation procedures are complicated, unrealistic and buggy. In the middle of trying to submit the forms they suddenly decided for security reason my e-mail (the one I used on ALL previous correspondence) was not secured or valid. That opened up a whole new sets of impossible hurdles. I finally gave up after a dozen tries to get compensated. . It would not have compensated me fully anyway ($400 was the maximum I believe). I wonder what people do who have no resources to get home. This is an airline that does not have multiple flights daily flights to utilize to get stranded passengers to their destination and no interlines agreements.

  24. BC Shelby

    January 9, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    Helmut Jilling
    and others


    Paying a tip is not just based on the server, but the entire dining experience (including the quality of the food and cleanliness of the table as tips are generally put into a pool and divided between the servers, bus people, and cooks). So on that note, why would I ever pay extra to be crammed in a tight pitch steerage class seat having to pay for my carry on, my checked luggage, (that may wind up damaged or lost with no compensation) use of their Wi-Fi, as well as 5$ for a 12 oz can of swill like Coors, Miller, or Bud?

    So when will we see pay dunnys on board (Ryanair actually contemplated that)?

    Crikey I still remember getting free non alcoholic beverages and three course meals in coach (on real plates with metal flatware [ever try to cut a piece of meat or a sandwich with a plastic knife?] and glassware) and my luggage went free, as well as ended up at my destination (intact) along with me.

  25. Morgacj2004

    January 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Another of the many reasons I will NEVER fly on Frontier.

  26. Taggsflyer

    January 9, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    pay the proper rate for the job!

  27. AEROJ

    January 9, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Going against the grain here… Yes, passenger safety is always paramount, really no argument otherwise.

    However… when 2017 was the safest year on record for air travel (zero commercial passenger deaths) we must all acknowledge that us (FLYERTALK’ers) and many other flyers value/appreciate Customer Service above (almost) all else. 90% of complaints on this forum are about CS, not safety.

    Can a flight attendant not be professional AND customer service orientated at the same time?? Should they not be rewarded for their personal service, just like anyone else who has been tending to your every need for the past 4/5/6/8/9/10 and now even 11/12/13hrs, IN ADDITION to ensuring your basic safety?!?

    Side-Note… My ex was cabin crew, gave his all to the job then had nothing for me at the end of the day (another story) :(

    Bottom Line… If someone gives you extra, show your appreciation… be it conversation, interest, kindness, a tip, or even just a simple smile and Thank You. Don’t rule out a tip, it’s only a human way of saying thank you.

  28. JoeColorado

    January 9, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Where does this lead to?

    In case of an emergency, FAs will make the person who tipped the highest a “preferred rescuee”?
    How does the FAA think about this, with the primary role of an FA being safety?
    Does that make an FA being considered a waiter, instead of a “safety officer” and what does it do to the image of the hard working FA trade?
    It sounds ridiculous to me that FAs have to bump up their salary with tips because the airline is dirt cheap.
    I agree with previous comments: a reason not to fly Frontier, because if they are too cheap to pay their FA, then they may be too cheap to pay for safety training as well.

  29. MitchR

    January 9, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    “The airline said the tips are meant to be both extra earnings and part of what the flight attendants should realistically be making.”
    So why isn’t the airline paying the flight attendants what they should be realistically making in the first place.
    I haven’t flown Frontier in 20 years, not a business travel airlines.

  30. D2travel

    January 9, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    If I were ever to fly Frontier, I certainly would not tip; besides this insane idea makes FAs seem more like waitresses/waiters than aviation professionals! STUPID IDEA!

  31. bortain

    January 9, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    It is unlikely they will cut their wages, but like most companies that start tipping, they use it as a reason not to increase their wages in the future.

  32. Jaytara

    January 9, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    This is an offshoot of the mindless tipping culture in the USA. Wouldn’t happen on Asian budget airlines, although flying them is no great pleasure either.

  33. evilbrian

    January 9, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Agree totally Jaytara. Those of us who grew up outside the USA have always been baffled not only at the nauseating degree of tipping there, but at their excuses for accepting it…to whit, to give an employee extra income because their employer is allowed to play them less because they get tips from customers. What moron came up with that convoluted logic for allowing employers to justify underpaying their staff, and forcing them to beg/cajole money from their customers. Perhaps it helps explain why a bigger moron got elected as the US President.

  34. Fledermaus

    January 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Wow. This is akin to Walmart having food drives for their underpaid employees while the Walton family is one of the richest families in the country. What corporate pigs! Why should customers reinforce this behavior?! Maybe they should use their corporate tax cuts to pay their employees a living wage. Won’t be flying Frontier!

  35. macssam

    January 9, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    they should offer sex to stay in business

  36. Dutchman Flying

    January 9, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    “Supplement their income”? So Frontier admits that they’re not paying their FAs a livable wage? Perhaps the best tip for these poor FAs who have to deal with this indignity is: look for a better employer?

  37. jjonathan

    January 9, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Tip: Do your job. Insist your employer pay you a fair and living wage and stop begging for money

  38. Grog

    January 9, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Tip-expectation culture is the work of the Devil.

  39. Nanda Chai

    January 9, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    How about a lap dance, Grandma? Next time a stewardess asks me if I would like some warm nuts, she’ll leave wondering what the mischievous grin on my face was all about. LOL.

  40. midorosan

    January 9, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Disgusting that the airline should encourage this procedure as part of the making up their salary to “realistic expectations” as a European living in asia the whole tip culture is anathema to me and I just wish the Americans would keep it to themselves and not export it. A person in asia is often offended by the mere suggestion of a tip, “I’m just doing my job” is the usual response that accompanies the refusal of a tip. I strongly believe tipping demeans both the tipper and tippee, pay people a proper wage and get rid of tipping altogether just the thought of it can ruin a night out at a restaurant with the “hot much should I tip” the answer for me is simple I just pay what’s on the bill and not a penny more as most establishments have already added a “service charge” whatever that is.

  41. Jackie_414

    January 10, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Here’s a TIP for you Frontier. I don’t fly your airline and I don’t intend to fly your airline. If you aren’t going to pay your FA’s a decent wage, then I would be concerned about my safety on your airline.

  42. Alan Shanley

    January 10, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Incredible. This could only happen in tip-for-absolutely-everything USA.

  43. alexmyboy

    January 11, 2019 at 5:15 am

    This is an offshoot of the mindless tipping culture in the USA.?? Service sucks here, but in Europe it’s worse.

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