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Wheelchair attendant tipping etiquette

Wheelchair attendant tipping etiquette

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Old Feb 9, 17, 7:47 am
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Wheelchair attendant tipping etiquette

What is the general consensus relative to tipping w/c attendants and electric cart drivers within airport terminals?
How much is appropriate? I just completed an itinerary of 10 flight segments; gets expensive to tip on each segment. Any ideas/advice?
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Old Feb 9, 17, 7:56 am
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As this is not specific to UA, please follow it in TravelBuzz.

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Old Feb 9, 17, 8:03 am
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Presuming you are referring to US domestic airports, these are almost uniformly employees of contractors to the airport authority and are rarely paid much above minimum wage. This is a simple way of saying that they depend on tips to subsist. Depending on the airport, getting to/from may be quite expensive (plenty of recent newspaper stories about how little these folks make).

How much depends on the service and how much time is involved. One wheelchair pusher who spends 30 minutes with you ought to get $10+. A cart-driver who spends 5 minutes with you and 4 others ought to get $2+. Maybe a bit more if they are handling luggage as well.

There may well be 200 frothing-at-the-mouth posts about why this is wrong, but that is the way it is.

That said, if you require assistance and really cannot afford it, you should tip what you can afford, bearing in mind the above. Also important to remember that disability assistance is a right. Skycap substitute is not.

Bottom line is that you pay what you can and "expensive" is relative.
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Old Feb 9, 17, 6:31 pm
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I was a wheelchair attendant in college for a summer. I got tipped everywhere in between nothing and $150. I was happy with a couple bucks though.
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Old Feb 9, 17, 7:07 pm
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In most circumstances I advocate tipping in line with the norm, but when the service is a right and not a privilege, I advocate tipping $0.

If the service is a right, then contributing to a culture in which tipping is expected will disproportionately harm lower-income travelers and foreign travelers who may come from a culture where no tipping exists at all.

There remains the question of subsistence for the employee. A $15 minimum wage is already in effect at some US airports. If you really care about the employees, I recommend supporting broader living-wage legislation, rather than shifting the burden onto travelers who may be no better-off themselves.

Also - to be clear I respect anonymity on this site. But every user's post history is public. Every indication from the post history of Often1 is that he is a man of extraordinary wealth. Two kids flying paid first class; Amex Centurion with waived fees (which must mean he is a VIP customer even among Centurion cardholders). He has admitted to lavish spending on hotel food and beverage. I'm not trying to attack anybody or their wealth, just giving context to advice such as "$10+" tip.

Last edited by davie355; Feb 9, 17 at 7:13 pm
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Old Feb 10, 17, 1:37 am
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So..until that broader living wage legislation is passed... what?
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Old Feb 10, 17, 5:52 am
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You'll probably get more seasoned responses from disabled travelers in the Disability forum ... http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/disability-travel-224/


I frequently use wheelchairs in airports because I can no longer walk the very long distances. Depending on the distance involved and the helpfulness of the attendant - especially going through security - I will tip between $5 and $10.
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Old Feb 10, 17, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by Flyingmama View Post
You'll probably get more seasoned responses from disabled travelers in the Disability forum ... http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/disability-travel-224/
Yes, you will. There is quite a long thread or two on the topic, where we argued every possible viewpoint.

My view: I do not support tipping the attendants unless they go above and beyond duty. I believe the airport and/or airlines are required to provide this service by law and should be compensating the attendants properly. Many of us with disabilities earn even less than the attendant does.
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Old Feb 10, 17, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by Flyingmama View Post
You'll probably get more seasoned responses from disabled travelers in the Disability forum ... http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/disability-travel-224/


I frequently use wheelchairs in airports because I can no longer walk the very long distances. Depending on the distance involved and the helpfulness of the attendant - especially going through security - I will tip between $5 and $10.
Please continue to follow this discussion in the Disability Forum where the Moderator will likely merge with the existing thread.
Thanks..
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Old Feb 14, 17, 12:42 am
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I'm not happy at all with the lousy compensation and lack of benefits that service workers get in the US. These workers also pay exorbitant amounts to commute to the airport even though my tax dollars paid for the public transit. I also believe tipping encourages the powers that be to continue this practice. Nevertheless, I do tip while in the US although I am very unhappy about that.

When traveling with disabled family members, I almost always tip $5. $10 is rare (you had to spend a ton of time with us and be real chatty in a pleasant way). Unlike some folks, $10 tip over and over again for me will make my wallet very unhappy so it's almost never going to happen. I do not tip in overseas locations where tipping is not common unless the service is exceptional. I do not tip for the trip from the gate to the plane or other short excursions.

At Denver off of an international flight, we got top notch service from the supervisor of the company doing the wheelchairs from the gate, through immigration, and to bag recheck. There weren't enough pushers inside the immigration area. He refused the rare $10 tip and simply said that his underlings are the ones that need the tip.
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Old Feb 23, 17, 8:23 am
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I was in a wheelchair for a few months after a severe injury and tipped them $5 each time. I was able to push myself in the wheel chair though and they basically just went with me to handle my luggage and get the wheel chair back after I got to the gate or the skyclub.

I usually use a remote parking lot and always tip the driver $1 (a little more if I come from an international trip with a lot of stuff) and the most he does for me is picks up my bag at the bus doorway and puts it on the shelf and then unloads it off the bus and most times I just grab the bag off the shelf as soon as we get to the terminal or my car and he is making a lot more than those wheelchair guys. And people don't think a thing of tipping a bartender for opening up a beer or getting them a glass of soda at the skyclub. If people tip for those things then I think it's fair to tip the wheelchair guy.

Most people that are flying have the disposable income to hand the wheel chair guy a couple bucks (and you are getting through the security line a lot faster even if you have precheck). If they truly can't afford to tip then you are under no obligation to.

I always just felt that if I was tipping a shuttle driver from a remote parking lot or a skyclub bartender $1 to get me a diet coke I should tip the wheel chair guy who is probably making less with no benefits.
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Old Apr 21, 17, 9:36 am
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Tipping not allowing at FRA (Germany)

Just used wheelchair service for my husband in Frankfurt, Germany - free service, best to reserve (through airline) 48 hours in advance, and the assistants (3 - one from plane to airport hotel, one from airport hotel through check-in next morning to lounge, one from lounge to departure gates) were all prompt and very pleasant and informative. When I tried to tip the first, she said that they were forbidden to accept gratuities, and the next two clearly did not expect anything. So local rules and customs may vary.
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Old Jul 7, 17, 11:16 pm
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Originally Posted by lskohn View Post
Just used wheelchair service for my husband in Frankfurt, Germany - free service, best to reserve (through airline) 48 hours in advance, and the assistants (3 - one from plane to airport hotel, one from airport hotel through check-in next morning to lounge, one from lounge to departure gates) were all prompt and very pleasant and informative. When I tried to tip the first, she said that they were forbidden to accept gratuities, and the next two clearly did not expect anything. So local rules and customs may vary.
same in asian culture. I wanted tip this fabulous japanese dude who went all the way to help my family and me.
he refuses and his face turned... lol its like he see it as a great insult.

not all cultures see tipping like americans
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Old Aug 3, 17, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by theremarkableflyer View Post
same in asian culture. I wanted tip this fabulous japanese dude who went all the way to help my family and me.
he refuses and his face turned... lol its like he see it as a great insult.

not all cultures see tipping like americans
Yup, this anecdote is informative for Japan. Tipping in Japan is seen as an insult because the tip is seen as a bribe and that the worker has done such a bad job that they need to be bribed to do it well. In Japan, doing a job well is generally seen as taking pride in one's work. So receiving unsolicited money to do the job is seen as rude. This applies in other Asian cultures such as Korea. In general, East/South-East Asia is a no-tip zone, though for different reasons depending on country.
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Old Aug 22, 17, 5:07 am
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I see that most of the posts in this thread are US-centric, with a little info on Japan and the Far East (could include Australia/NZ here) and Frankfurt where no tips are expected.

Having recently had wheelchair/buggy assistance in London, Oslo, Doha, Cape Town and Zurich, I didn't tip and I'm keen to learn more from an international perspective. I wondered about the status of the helpers. AFAIK all the services were booked by the airlines who used contracted suppliers for the transits - at LHR it was provided by Heathrow Airport Ltd for example. Sometimes, volunteers are used, at Oslo for example I think.

Is there a central info point where I could see what services are provided and by whom at different airports internationally? I could then work out whether tipping would be appropriate.

My gut feelings:
- Europe/Asia/Middle East/Australasia: no need to tip, nor expectation;
- US: probably necessary;
- Canada/Central & South America/South Africa: don't know.
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