Tipping Culture: The Expected, Appreciated, and Forbidden 

To tip, or not to tip? That is the question many Americans are finding themselves asking in instances where the answer is not always obvious.   

The gesture of tipping has been around for centuries, slowly morphing into the gratuity culture we see in the U.S. today. While leaving a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop without tipping is considered rude, certain industries do not paint as clear a picture.   

Flight Attendants   

Even though a key aspect of the aviation industry is service, most major U.S. airlines strongly discourage flight attendants from accepting cash tips in order to maintain a professional appearance. However, in 2016, Frontier Airlines added a tipping option to their in-flight point-of-sale system which may create a trend throughout the field.   

“We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well. Tipping is entirely at the customer’s discretion, and many do it,” Frontier spokesperson Jonathon Freed told CNN.  

However, an anonymous female Frontier Airlines flight attendant explained that this new feature could sometimes create awkwardness with flyers Luckily, flight attendants can control whether the customer sees the tipping option or not, and she will forego the tipping option if the customer had a small order or if they did not easily understand English.  

It is important to note that, unlike most other U.S. airlines, Frontier also charges customers for all beverages except water, creating an environment where tipping may be more acceptable.   

A recent Frontier passenger said they would be “much more likely to tip a flight attendant on Alaska Airlines” where they actually take care of you. 

Gas Station Attendants  

For the better part of 70 years, Oregon has been the only state aside from New Jersey where customers are not allowed to pump their own gasoline although there have been occasional exceptions. That being said, Oregon’s presence of attendants begs an important question: Are we expected to tip them?   

According to an article by the Oregonian, tipping at the gas pump is not expected but always appreciated.   

“When you think about it, gas-station gratuities easily make as much sense as the tip jar at Peet’s,” the article reads. “These are the guys running around for minimum wage in the rain, fending off the fumes, feeling the bite of the wind.”   

Not to mention, fuel attendants can serve hundreds of cars in one shift. One Northeast Portland gas attendant said, “If I got a dollar from every car, I’d clear $600 in a day. Man, oh, man…”  

Winery Employees  

Willamette Valley has gained international publicity for its world-famous wines — particularly Pinot Noir. If you live in Oregon and enjoy top-notch wines, chances are you have been wine tasting in the Valley.   

Since wineries fall under the hospitality industry, many assume that tipping is expected. After all, when tasting a flight, an employee not only serves each taste but usually shares interesting facts about the wine’s history to add to the experience, as well as managing the tasting to best develop the bouquet as you move through different wines. However, that is not necessarily the case.   

According to Tour De Vine, you can typically forego the tip due to the tasting fee that is added to your visit. Although, if you wish to tip, most winery employees appreciate the gesture.  

Hotel Staff   

While airlines discourage the tipping of their employees, hotels in the U.S. are completely different. It is very much expected that you should tip your hotel staff, with the amount depending on the job position.   

Etiquette experts suggest tipping housekeeping $3 to $5 per day of your visit, and possibly more if your room is significantly messy.   

“If you’re a family and have a garbage can full of [dirty] diapers or a room that looks like a hurricane hit it, be sensitive to the fact that the housekeeper is going to spend extra time in there, taking [him or her] away from other rooms,” Tom Waithe, Vice President of Operations for Kimpton Hotels in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain Regions, told The Points Guy.   

Experts also recommend tipping luggage attendants $1 unless you have several large bags, and parking valet $2 to $5 per vehicle pick up. Since room service bills often include a gratuity, tipping may not be necessary but is appreciated.   

Abroad  

Although international travel during the pandemic is not recommended and may be subject to certain restrictions, we can all dream of a post-pandemic trip that involves the stamping of passports again. That being said, not all tipping cultures are created equal, as certain countries do not require the gesture and some even prohibit it.   

For example, most tipping in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and certain parts of China is considered rude because excellent service standards are expected to be the norm. However, both countries allow tipping in the tourism industry since workers make meager wages.  

In Korea, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, and Britain, tipping is not expected but, in some cases, is appreciated. In Argentina, tipping is actually illegal — although waiters will often expect foreigners to tip, and in France a gratuity charge is required by law to be included in the original pricing.   

By: Rebekah Harcrow