This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While many domestic US airlines are raising drink prices, there’s an airline flying in the US that’ll actually give you a discount for ordering more alcohol. But, you’re going to be asked for a tip at checkout.

That airline: Frontier.

This “revelation” surely isn’t new to many of the 17 million passengers the airline welcomed onboard so far this year, but it was new to me during my first experience on the airline earlier this week.

Feeling parched and kicking myself for not refilling my water bottle before the flight, I ordered a can of ginger ale when the flight attendants passed through selling snacks and drinks. After swiping my card, I was surprised to be handed the flight attendant’s tablet. There on the screen, I was prompted:

I’d gotten a heads up by TPG reader Paul Frazier right before my flight that on-board tipping was a thing, but seeing it in person was still surreal. 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.

Did the flight attendants expect a tip for handing me a can of soda and a cup? Do other passengers leave a tip? Do these flight attendants count on passengers to tip? And should I set up an electronic tip jar at the bottom of each of my posts?

After just two flights on Frontier, I still have plenty of questions about this practice. So, I reached out to Frontier and recevied a quick response.

First, I wanted to make sure that the tips actually go to the crew working the flight and this isn’t a way for the airline to make a little extra money from its passengers. Sure enough, Frontier confirmed: “Frontier does not keep any portion of earned tips.”

However, how your specific tip is divvied up is changing soon. A Frontier spokesperson said:

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.

My final question is a bit harder to answer, but I was curious if this tipping was meant to take the place of what Frontier would otherwise pay flight attendants. Hopefully, Frontier flight attendants aren’t making anywhere near minimum wage, so it isn’t like restaurants, where servers make less than minimum wage and tips make up the difference.

So, I asked Frontier if gratuities were meant as extra earnings for FAs or “considered a consequential part of their earnings.” Frontier’s response: “Both. Many flight attendants see the inflight tip program as a way to supplement their income.”

I’m still undecided on whether or not I like this tipping aspect. It feels a bit unprofessional for flight attendants to be seeking tips. However, especially with the changes coming in 2019, ideally this tipping process would actually lead to better service. Once flight attendants are getting to personally keep all of the tips themselves, they’ll be even more incentivized to get the cart going — and hopefully check back through the cabin during the flight for new orders.

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.