On this airline, flight attendants can now make individual tips
If you are planning to travel by Frontier Airlines this year, you are likely to be asked by the flight attendant for a tip.
Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which introduced a tipping function three years ago, used to split the tips received among the attendants.
However, from January 1, each attendant is on his/her own and can keep the tips they received.
This airline allows attendants to keep their tips
Flight attendants won't have to pool, can keep their tips
In 2016, Frontier Airlines pioneered the tip-your-attendant department.
They added the option 'Gratuities are appreciated' on the digital tablets, for those passengers who order food and drinks on the flight.
The tips received were pooled among flight attendants.
Now, as of January 1, Frontier's 2,200 flight attendants won't have to pool and will get to keep the tips they received on their own.
Tipping system is up to customer and flight attendant's discretion
"We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well," Frontier spokesman, Jonathan Freed, told media.
He added that the tipping system is entirely up to the customer's discretion and "many do it".
In fact, it's also at the discretion of the flight attendant. This means that flight attendants can choose whether to trigger the tip option.
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However, the Association of Flight Attendants is opposing the move
However, the decision did not sit well with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents 50,000 flight attendants of 20 airlines, including Frontier's.
The Association had opposed the move in 2016 as well.
It noted that the responsibility of the flight attendants is to ensure the safety and security of the flight's passengers and should not be affected by tips.
Association has been trying to negotiate new contract with Frontier
AFA President, Sara Nelson, told media, "(Frontier's) Management moved forward with a tipping option for passengers in hopes it'd dissuade flight attendants from standing together for a fair-contract and to shift additional costs to passengers."
The Association asserted that tipping option has been used to weaken its contract negotiations and it has been negotiating a new contract with Frontier for the last two years.
Attendants pressed for better transparency, counter past tip-distribution problem
Despite the differing views on tips, Nelson said Frontier flight attendants pressed to keep their own tips, to allow for "better transparency," and counter past problems with tip distribution.
Frontier's tablet-based payment system allows flight attendants to skip the tip screen when a customer pays.
The airline also said it doesn't track how often their flight attendants ask for tips via the tablet.
Attendants earned millions in tips over last 3 years: Freed
Although Frontier declined to give an estimate of how much it distributes tips monthly, Freed said the flight attendant earned "millions of dollars" in tips over the past three years. The attendants' union did not dispute the estimate given by Freed, either.
Frequent flier says new policy could affect service levels aboard
A frequent flier of Frontier's, Henry Harteveldt, was against the move and said, "I think it's just like in a restaurant, and, frankly, not an image the airlines want to have."
Henry is also the founder of Atmosphere Research Group, which analyzes the travel industry.
He feels the new policy could affect service levels on board given the potential differences between big-tippers and others.
Other ultra-low cost carriers do not have any tipping policy
Nevertheless, Frontier Airlines seems to be in the vanguard with the tipping system. Other national ultra low cost carriers like Spirit Airlines Inc. and Allegiant Travel Co., don't include tipping in their customer-payment systems. In fact, Allegiant has a policy against tipping.