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SteveAJones

To Leave A Tip or Not to Leave a Tip

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Should you tip your flight attendant?

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, CNN • Updated 30th January 2019
(CNN) — Travelers in the United States are used to tipping a multitude of people, from the baristas who make their frothy coffee concoctions to restaurant servers, parking valets, hotel housekeepers and Uber drivers.
But tipping a flight attendant? It's largely unheard of.
Almost all domestic US airlines have policies prohibiting flight attendants from accepting tips, but one ultra-low-cost carrier is bucking that tradition. About three years ago, Frontier Airlines introduced new technology to its inflight payment system that explicitly gives passengers the option to tip flight attendants.
Not that anyone seemed to notice at the time.
Tipping a flight attendant was a new concept for J.T. Genter, a senior writer at The Points Guy website, who has flown over 350 flights on 51 airlines in the past three years.
Several weeks ago, Genter recounted his surprise at being prompted to tip his Frontier flight attendant after ordering a can of ginger ale. His anecdote went viral and got many travelers wondering if flight attendants will be the next group of workers we'll be tipping.
Behind the mentality
"We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well," says Jonathan Freed, a Frontier spokesperson. "Tipping is entirely at the customer's discretion, and many do it."
But it's not easy to change tipping culture.
"There can be many motivations for why we want to tip someone," says Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, who has written extensively on tipping.
"In general, the dynamic is that we tip people in jobs that are lower status than us. My guess is that most people don't think of flight attendants as being lower status."
Perhaps not. "But it's a really hard job. These are people who do a really important job and don't earn tremendous sums of money for doing it," says Seth Kaplan, founding editor at Airline Weekly.
So many hats, so little time
Part of what makes a flight attendant's job difficult is that they don so many hats.
"Flight attendants are certified for our safety, health and security work," says Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, the union that represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 US airlines, including Frontier. As "aviation's first responders," says Nelson, the flight attendant's primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of passengers.
Of course, flight attendants also serve food and drinks, and the service component of the job is typically what is most visible to passengers. "In terms of where they see flight attendants putting most of their time and energy, it's mostly serving passengers," says Lynn.
Fewer passengers may realize that a flight attendant is also a salesperson.
"On almost every airline in the United States, flight attendants are getting on the loudspeaker and announcing that they have this great deal on a credit card. When people get approved for the credit card, the flight attendant gets a bonus," says Brian Sumers, aviation business editor at Skift, the travel intel site.
That sales hat is considerably bigger if you work on an ultra-low-cost carrier like Frontier, where everything, from overhead bin space to non-alcoholic beverages, costs extra -- and that's where tipping comes in. When a passenger buys a bottle of water, can of soda or bag of chips, the flight attendant presents the bill on a tablet interface that includes a gratuity option.
"We had to learn the interface as part of the flight attendant training program when we started," says a woman who worked as a Frontier flight attendant for three years, until late 2018, and has asked not to be identified for fear of negatively impacting her career within the industry.
Flight attendants can control whether to reveal the tip screen before handing the tablet to the passenger for a signature.
The flight attendant says she would occasionally skip the tip screen if a passenger only ordered a bottle of water or if there was a big language barrier. "It sometimes created awkward interactions with passengers and it didn't make a huge impact in my take-home pay."
She notes that she never made more than $100 in tips in a single month, even though she worked significantly more than full-time hours.
"Full time" for flight attendants is significantly more than 40 hours a week.
Flight attendants are only paid for hours when the door to the aircraft is shut, which means they end up working a ton of off-the-clock hours. This is an industry-wide guideline and not exclusive to Frontier. Tipping could become one way to help cover that technically unpaid time.
"I definitely used the tipping feature on my tablet," she adds. "Frontier flight attendants are the lowest paid in the industry, so a little bit of extra cash from the tips was greatly appreciated."
For comparison, Frontier flight attendants make 25-30% less than flight attendants at another national ultra-low-cost carrier, Spirit Airlines, according to the Association of Flight Attendants.
Tipping as appeasement
Nelson says Frontier introduced tipping around the time it began negotiating a new contract with the flight attendant union "in hopes it would dissuade flight attendants from standing together for a fair contract -- and in an effort to shift additional costs to passengers." Contract negotiations between the two parties have been going on since 2016.
"It's not going very well, and it's getting heated on both sides," says Sumers. Frontier flight attendants have picketed at Frontier-hub airports since last spring and, last November, they authorized a strike.
Frontier tweaked its tipping policy at the beginning of the year. Flight attendants used to pool their tips, "but as the program matured over the past three years, flight attendants asked that individuals be able to keep their own tips," says Freed.
In response, flight attendants say they made that request only to gain greater transparency. "Even though we were told tips got split evenly among the crew, we never got any reports," says the former Frontier flight attendant.
While the AFA has always objected to tipping flight attendants, says Nelson, "our union also ensures this management initiative is implemented fairly and fully. Recently, management failed to properly distribute the tips passengers intended to give to the crew."
Following the industry leaders
"I definitely don't know a lot of Frontier flight attendants who would be upset if tipping just went away," says the flight attendant.
Instead, she thinks the company is going to use tipping as an incentive to increase sales. "I always heard rumors that the next step was going to be a quota for drinks and snacks we had to sell on the plane."
"I can't say that I'm surprised it's Frontier that came out with this first instead of, say, American, United or Delta," says Sumers. "Sometimes an ultra-low-cost carrier will do things that other airlines won't in order to lower costs and to keep revenue up."
According to a 2018 report from Airline Weekly, the no-frills carriers tend to have better operating margins than most of the legacy carriers. Whether the two other national ultra-low-cost airlines will follow Frontier's lead and introduce tipping is anyone's guess. For now, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air don't include tipping in their customer-payment systems.
"But it is a very competitive industry," says Kaplan. "If you have Frontier doing this and getting away with it -- and I don't mean to say that as that it's something nefarious -- but if Frontier is doing it then I'm sure it's something that Spirit and Allegiant are looking at, too."
Nothing would surprise Sumers. "We tip everywhere else we go," he says. "Why shouldn't we tip on an airplane?"

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I don't tip baristas. Hell no.

Flight attendants? It would have to be some super-duper service before I would think of tipping someone for rolling out a cart of Eagles Nuts and Jack-n-Coke.

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The tipping culture in the US is a strange beast altogether. Especially the compulsory tip. Which means its a damn TAX - NOT a tip.

You strange fuckers.......

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24 minutes ago, rm2551 said:

The tipping culture in the US is a strange beast altogether. Especially the compulsory tip. Which means its a damn TAX - NOT a tip.

You strange fuckers.......

Agreed. Tipping is essentially business owners pushing customers to subsidize a portion of what would have been their payroll expense. I'd like to see tipping done away with altogether. The staff expect to be tipped regardless of how mediocre their service was. I recall I tipped 20% of a dinner bill and the waiter was indignant that I wanted him to return with the remaining change above that (about 5% of the bill). I explained to him he could return with my change or return with the owner to cancel the 20% tip. I got my change back. It's interesting that here in Japan, tipping is not expected and rare, yet one receives five star service from the hotels to the local convenience stores regardless.   

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Tipping sucks.  As SteveAJones pointed out it is a subsidized wage paid by the customers, the recipients rarely if ever report it to the IRS for tax purposes as reportable income and as the service they provide has gone down, they seem to expect a GREATER percentage for their (non)service!  I know two people in my office that have stopped the practice altogether!

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I don't agree with tipping but I will leave a little something, the better the service the bigger the tip. It's a good job it only happens in restaurants and Taxis...

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In the old movie 'Petrified Forest' there's a sign in the restaurant that says: TIPPING IS UN-AMERICAN!

image.png.e65f2684dff6cb0599fccf7495e3ff2a.png

 

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11 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

Agreed. Tipping is essentially business owners pushing customers to subsidize a portion of what would have been their payroll expense. I'd like to see tipping done away with altogether. The staff expect to be tipped regardless of how mediocre their service was. I recall I tipped 20% of a dinner bill and the waiter was indignant that I wanted him to return with the remaining change above that (about 5% of the bill). I explained to him he could return with my change or return with the owner to cancel the 20% tip. I got my change back. It's interesting that here in Japan, tipping is not expected and rare, yet one receives five star service from the hotels to the local convenience stores regardless.   

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

The origin of tipping in the US was as an insult and had to do with post-slavery restoration.

https://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/22/world/ugly-history-tipping-america

 

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16 hours ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

The origin of tipping in the US was as an insult and had to do with post-slavery restoration.

https://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/22/world/ugly-history-tipping-america

 

Now that's very interesting, and I'm going to accept it at face value. In fact, I'm going to send it along to my former Economics professor as we discussed the origins of tipping at length in class on occasion with no consensus. It seems the theory that "tips" originated in England as "To Insure Prompt Service", and that the consumer would pay it up front, has long since been debunked. 

Edited by SteveAJones

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8 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

 "To Insure Prompt Service"

I was at a small Chinese restaurant one time and after ordering the food the waiter came back and told me: YOU PAY NOW!! I guess he thought I was going to pull a runner. 😄Can't remember if I tipped him or not.

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I get asked by Europeans all the time about the concept of tipping and the acceptable rates. But when Europeans say they don't have tipping in their countries, it is kind of inaccurate. They usually have a 10-15% gratuity charge automatically added to the bill, so while you may think you aren't tipping you essentially are. 

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Unless it’s very shitty service, I always go 15% minimum plus round it up to make the bill an even dollar amount. Exceptional service, 20% or up. 

 

3 hours ago, chef free said:

Anyone who brings me a drink gets $1 tip...

Absolutely! And if it’s a busy bar scene, a little more so they spot me quicker when getting the next round. 

Service industry is not easy work, plus people can be pricks...

 

 

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2 hours ago, Walter said:

Unless it’s very shitty service, I always go 15% minimum plus round it up to make the bill an even dollar amount. Exceptional service, 20% or up. 

 

Absolutely! And if it’s a busy bar scene, a little more so they spot me quicker when getting the next round. 

Service industry is not easy work, plus people can be pricks...

 

 

People aren't in a great mood when they are hungry...

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I always tip in bars and restaurants. I have a regular bar I go to and she treats me nice. I am charged for only one of every three beers and/or wine I drink and 50% off any hard stuff. I never leave without tipping at least $20.

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Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go? In some cases, toward the driver's base pay

 
Feb 07, 2019 | 9:35 PM
 
Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go? In some cases, toward the driver's base pay
An Amazon delivery box on a porch. (Robert Bumsted / Associated Press)
 

Amazon at times dips into the tips earned by contracted delivery drivers to cover their promised pay, a Times review of emails and receipts reveals.

Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers.

In emails to drivers, Amazon acknowledges it can use “any supplemental earnings” to meet the promised minimum should the company's own contribution fall short.

“We add any supplemental earnings required to meet our commitment that delivery partners earn $18-$25 per hour,” the company wrote in multiple emails reviewed by The Times.

 

Only drivers who deliver for Amazon’s grocery service or its Prime Now offering — which brings household goods to customers in two hours or less — can receive tips through the company’s app.

Amazon insists that drivers receive the entirety of their tips but declined to answer questions from The Times about whether it uses those tips to help cover the drivers’ base pay.

“Our pay commitment to delivery partners has not changed since we launched the Amazon Flex program — delivery partners still earn $18-25 per hour, including 100% of tips — and on average drivers earn over $20/hour,” Amazon spokeswoman Amanda Ip wrote in a statement.

Drivers question why they aren’t getting 100% of tips on top of their guaranteed pay.

“They just hide behind the fact that they guarantee $18” an hour, said driver Jeff Lee. “Sounds great, but that $18 [an hour] guarantee could be all from customer tips while Amazon chips in zero.”

As Amazon has grown into one of the world’s biggest companies, it has relied heavily on contractors to help keep up with the pace of deliveries. These workers do not qualify for benefits offered to staff employees. Tipping is one way Amazon and other tech firms such as Uber and Lyft have moved to appease their contractor workforce.

But using tips to cover promised wages has proved controversial for delivery start-ups Instacart and DoorDash.

On Tuesday, those companies came under fire after BuzzFeed News reported they used tips to fulfill some pay promises.

Drivers have long suspected that Amazon uses their tips to hit promised wage targets, according to five former and current drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

It has been hard for drivers to prove — the company does not provide them a breakdown of their compensation beyond showing the total paid out, citing privacy concerns.

But two drivers tested their suspicions when assigned to deliver packages to their own homes.

It was slow that day and I had no orders to deliver, so I decided to place a one-hour order as a customer to see what the hell was going on with our tips.

Amazon delivery driver Jeff Lee

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Another contract driver in Virginia who ordered paper towels for his family and was assigned to deliver the package tipped himself $15.90 — an amount he said would easily stand out. Two days later he checked his account. For the entire two-hour shift he worked, he was credited with receiving no tips.

He wrote to Amazon to complain. Without offering any explanation, the company adjusted his pay for that shift to $50.11, which included additional tips, according to receipts The Times reviewed. He no longer drives for Amazon but asked not to be named because he operates a business that caters to Amazon Flex drivers and fears that speaking on the record could jeopardize that venture.

Lee, who still delivers for Amazon, said he tipped himself $12 and change for a package he brought to his own residence.

“It was slow that day and I had no orders to deliver, so I decided to place a one-hour order as a customer to see what the hell was going on with our tips as I knew I would be the next driver to deliver this one-hour [order] to my house,” Lee said.

His base pay for the 1½-hour shift was supposed to be $27. Including tips, he received a bit more than $30 — suggesting Amazon contributed only $18.

“The problem most drivers have with Amazon is there is zero transparency about our pay,” Lee said.

The practice is legal in some states. The California Labor Code’s Provision 351, which targets the practice, does not apply to contractors because they are seen as independent business owners. In Seattle, a group of drivers has contested that classification in a pending class-action lawsuit, claiming they are actually treated as employees.

Amazon would not say whether it dips into drivers’ tips in California.

A source familiar with the company’s practices who was not authorized to comment on the record said Amazon contributes an average of $19 per hour to contracted drivers’ wages.

Amazon determines how much it will pay each driver based on the length of the shift and any increases in customer demand, according to emails reviewed by The Times.

Drivers who make deliveries for Amazon’s Prime Now service noticed a drop in their tips in early 2018, prompting them to send questions to customer support. They were informed that Amazon had changed the pay structure to something called “variable base pay,” according to emails shared by four drivers.

Customer support representatives wrote in emails that the base pay drivers receive for each shift could vary from $18 to $25 per hour and that includes 100% of their tips. The emails did not explain why pay was suddenly much lower than it had been in the past.

Instacart and DoorDash faced backlash Tuesday for using what many critics are calling a deceptive practice.

In response to the public scrutiny, Instacart Chief Executive Apoorva Mehta announced internally Wednesday that the company would end the practice, BuzzFeed News first reported.

 

http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-amazon-drivers-tips-20190207-story.html

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