Pilot's tip of the week

When to Tip Line Workers

Subscriber question:

"Is it appropriate to tip line staff? If so, when and how much?" Kenny H.


When should pilots and aircraft owners break out their wallets, and tip line workers? And how much?

The first is simply recognizing extraordinary service. A line worker who meets my airplane in a rainstorm and brings an umbrella for passengers, or unloads heavy bags and takes them inside deserves a reward. So does a line worker who moves my airplane into a heated hangar to melt accumulated ice or snow, or provides pre-flight heat, at my request, to the engine compartment. The same holds true for a person working behind the counter who books a steeply discounted hotel room or provides an overnight crew car that allows me to avoid Uber. 

The other is tipping line workers at your home base, or at regular destinations, to get FBO employees’ attention. This virtually ensures exemplary service going forward. 

Unlike restaurants where a percentage of the total bill is expected, tips for FBO workers aren’t set in stone. A $5 bill is a minimum, a $10 bill gets a friendly nod, and a $20 bill will be remembered and appreciated.

The biggest tip I ever gave was $100 for a line worker in Denver who moved our ice-encrusted airplane into a heated hangar for an hour prior to takeoff. The ice fell off in sheets and allowed us to stay on schedule and avoided a chemical deicing treatment that would have cost in excess of $1000. 

It wasn’t easy to part with that Ben Franklin. The truth is, I seldom see such bills and they never seem to reside in my wallet for long. But handing it over on that day turned out to be a bargain.”

Do you tip line workers?

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