Tipping Your Airline

I was perusing the Boarding Area main site a few days ago and loved seeing a post from Expat Adventures on Travel Update where she was appalled at Frontier’s latest terrible idea. Speaking of terrible ideas: flying Frontier.

Granted, I’ve never flown Frontier, primarily because this is #NoMasCoach, and they’re a low cost airline. If you have attended my sessions at Frequent Traveler University, you would know I pronounce Frontier the same way you’d pronounce Cartier, just to try and make them sound less terrible. Newsflash, it doesn’t work.

But I digress. Deborah talks about Frontier’s latest changes that enable customers flying them to order drinks from their entertainment system and then prompts them to leave either a 15, 20 or 25% tip on that charge. For anyone who like me, almost exclusively travels in first class, you do have to pay for stuff when you travel Frontier. Yes, I know, it’s weird.

What Deborah very well points out in her article is that this pretty much reduces the work of Flight Attendants on those flights to mere wait staff. Not that is anything wrong at all with waiters, but as every airline likes to remind us during their safety announcements, the crew’s primary function is safety, and not particularly getting your mixed drink proportions right, Janice.

She does have a point.

Andes Lineas Aereas, from their Social Media

Andes Lineas Aereas, from their Social Media

But did you know Frontier isn’t the only airline where you can offer a tip?

Yeah, that’s right. As part of our booking service, we get to book many flights on airlines we ourselves don’t normally get to fly. Last year, we had a client who wanted to fly domestically within Argentina, and the airline that covered that route was Andes Lineas Aereas. As we were booking his trip, the airline’s website prompted us with the following message.

Tipping Andes Lineas Aereas

Tipping Andes Lineas Aereas

This translates to:

With Andes Lineas Aereas now everyone can fly. If you think our fares are too low, we invite you to contribute to making them even more so. Thank you for your support!

The system allows to tip pre-set amounts of 25, 50, 100 and 250 Argentine pesos (roughly $0.67, $1.33, $2.66 and $6.65 respectively in today’s valuation. 

Tipping Options on Andes Lineas Aereas

Tipping Options on Andes Lineas Aereas

For reference, Andes is a somewhat low cost carrier, and their fees for priority boarding are 100 Argentine pesos, and if you prefer to check in at the airport, that would cost you an additional 150.

This feels like a much better way of collecting additional revenue instead of making people directly tip their crew, and it certainly circumvents the concern Deborah brought up in her post. It also does not put passengers in that horrible position of being “that guy” who does not tip their flight attendants.

However, it does leave me with a giant question that I haven’t been able to answer after scouring their website for a while. Where does that tip go to? Does the airline keep it as part of their ancillary revenue or does it get distributed among their crew members? Does it go to all employees including those that aren’t part of their in flight crews? One can only hope, but so far I haven’t been able to figure it out. I reached out to their twitter support account but I have not yet received any response.

Have you encountered other airlines that offer the ability to leave a tip?


Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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