Clubhouse tipping

Old Jan 26, 19, 9:24 am
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Clubhouse tipping

Hi!
Yesterday I flew out of JFK, and used a VS clubhouse the first time ever (I am delta Gold, this was also my first time ever on VS). So it has an a la carte dining, everything with table service, and I saw all the passengers tipping the waitresses when they left. What is the normal amount in this case? I have never before tipped at any lounge, this was a bit strange for me. I was flying home, so didn't have any more USD cash, I tipped 5 EUR. Since everything is complimentary, I was eating just one main course, and drinking a glass of wine plus 2 cokes. And actually I found the service to be very slow, one of my drink orders was forgotten, and didn't even find them to be that professional. I really just tipped because I saw everyone nearby me doing the same.
I know, the US is a bit different market, so how is this working in the LHR clubhouse? And do you guys always tip in the JFK clubhouse? And approx. what amount?
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Old Jan 26, 19, 10:08 am
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I have never, ever tipped in the LHR Clubhouse. I have done so a few times in the US ones, but only with whatever I have left in my wallet, which is usually about $5.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 10:21 am
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I didn't tip when I was there (both LHR and JFK) the other week and I had 2 food orders and a few more drinks orders.

It is not expected to tip in VS clubhouses.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 10:43 am
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When airline lounges first started in the USA, they were private clubs and as such the traditional was not to tip in such places in the USA, although there may have been service charges added to bills or special gratuities for the holiday season, organized by club management.

As airline lounges have evolved, IMO it's an ambiguous situation. I wouldn't tip the reception and customer service lounge staff, who are almost always airline employees (just like one doesn't tip a FA or GA). Food service workers are likely to be contract employees (with few employee benefits) who are paid close to minimum wage, perhaps the minimum wage for tipped employees. The same may be true for those who staff the shower areas. Still, in most lounges, you don't pay for what you consume, nor do you ever see a price list (buffets and menus don't list prices for what you order), so you can't start from the 15% benchmark and adjust accordingly. [An exception might be if you choose to pay for "luxury" alcohol that's offered in some lounges.]

For most alcoholic drinks, I would tip $1 per drink to the bartender or server, but nothing if it's self service. For a meal that's served in a dining room area, I'd probably tip a couple dollars (like I would in a buffet) for pretty good service, maybe about $5 per person for excellent service if you only ordered one or two items (more for an extensive multi-course meal with excellent service), and nothing for bad service, but there's no real guideline and of course in an international airport, there's the added complication that some guests might not have any local currency. If your goal is to tip as if you were in a real restaurant, you could estimate the cost (not including tax) of your meal and tip about 20% of that for very good professional service in the NYC area.

This is my interpretation of American rules. I would not tip in Clubhouses outside of the USA.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 11:17 am
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Okay thanks. I also have never tipped in any lounges outside USA. nor in any buffet style lounge. But since VS clubhouses have this restaurant-style, in the future I just might pay 5-10 USD depending how much I consume and how many of us stay there. However the 20% US basic tip-rate is still insane.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 11:41 am
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I noticed that on my trip to NYC two of the places I went out to eat only had a single 16% service charge instead of the usual myriad options which included an insane 25% tip!
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Old Jan 26, 19, 2:34 pm
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I believe Clubhouse staff are all VS staff

Have a friend that used to work at the LHR clubhouse, they had strict instructions not to accept tips or gifts - apparently could be quite hard at times! Not sure if that's still stands?
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Old Jan 26, 19, 4:17 pm
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Tips aren’t customary in airline lounges in the same was as they are in restaurants in the US. I might consider a modest tip if the service in the Clubhouse was especially good, but if poor as you describe I wouldn’t have tipped nor given it a second thought.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by e30st View Post
Okay thanks. I also have never tipped in any lounges outside USA. nor in any buffet style lounge. But since VS clubhouses have this restaurant-style, in the future I just might pay 5-10 USD depending how much I consume and how many of us stay there. However the 20% US basic tip-rate is still insane.
The 20% is a NYC thing, not at all common in most of the rest of the USA, although if people calculate a 15-18% tip on the total including tax, it becomes about 20% of the actual meal price.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 10:47 pm
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Originally Posted by JFX1764 View Post
I believe Clubhouse staff are all VS staff

Have a friend that used to work at the LHR clubhouse, they had strict instructions not to accept tips or gifts - apparently could be quite hard at times! Not sure if that's still stands?
i was once told the policy was to graciously thank the person but to decline the tip unless it would cause offence to the person offering the tip by repeated refusals.

of course some people just left the tip on the table / bar as they left anyway without actually seeing the server.
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Old Jan 27, 19, 1:26 am
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post


i was once told the policy was to graciously thank the person but to decline the tip unless it would cause offence to the person offering the tip by repeated refusals.

of course some people just left the tip on the table / bar as they left anyway without actually seeing the server.
I have only been to the LGW clubhouse but that is exactly what we used to do - but we only did it for exceptional service that was above and beyond what I expected.

And I know this is not VS but this might be an interesting read as to this approach in the US in United Polaris lounges.

Last edited by Silver Fox; Jan 27, 19 at 1:33 am
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Old Jan 27, 19, 5:34 am
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I generally tip the bar server at least $2 per drink, only because she has my drink ready as she sees me.(known her for about 9 years now)
Will tip the shuttle service driver $1.00 per bag, (getting to know quite a few of them now)
but that is where it stops.. (still feel the employer should provide better pay to his/her staff rather than relying on customers to make up the difference)
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Old Feb 2, 19, 4:26 pm
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This is probably somewhat arbitrary, but I tip when there is a paid menu of food/drinks (even if I am just availing myself of the swill liquor complimentary offerings). When I am an invited guest of the airline (i.e., a premium class lounge) where no paid menu exists, I graciously accept the hospitality of the airline and lounge staff and feel no need to tip my hosts. So, yes to tipping in the SkyClub, Admirals Club, etc, no tipping in the Clubhouse, Flagship Lounge, etc.
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