Frontier Airlines has allowed passengers to tip flight attendants for three years, but as of Jan. 1, gratuities now go directly to the intended recipient rather than being pooled and divvied out.
While Frontier says it's a way to allow their employees to be recognized for providing good service, a labor union representing flight attendants says the move just hurts their members' ability to bargain for higher wages.
Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed said, "We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so (the payment tablet) gives passengers the option to tip," the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Association of Flight Attendants — whose members include Frontier employees — has been negotiating for a new contract with the airline for two years. AFA President Sara Nelson wrote in an email last week: "Management moved forward with a tipping option for passengers in hopes it would dissuade flight attendants from standing together for a fair contract — and in an effort to shift additional costs to passengers."
"I think it's just like in a restaurant and, frankly, not an image the airlines want to have," Nelson added.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, flight attendants received a median salary of $50,500 per year in 2017.