Tipping Flight Crew

Q. Is it proper to tip flight attendants? I saw a fellow passenger slip some money (I couldn't see how much) to a flight attendant on a recent flight. This was at the beginning of the flight. I did notice that this passenger's glass was never empty. Do airlines prohibit this? Isn't it a sort of "bribe?"

A. When you think about it, all travel industry employees (hotels, cruise lines, rental car shuttle drivers) receive tips at one point or another, so I see no reason why flight attendants shouldn't receive them as well. However, some flight attendants tell me that they refuse tips while others accept them. I wouldn't call them "bribes" any more than tipping your bell hop or hotel maid is a bribe. I would draw the line, however, at handing a $100 bill to a check in agent at the airport in the hope of getting an upgrade. I've heard of passengers doing this and it seems unethical to me. I've also heard of people tipping TSA agents in order to jump the line, and that does seem like a bribe. I've also heard that this sort of thing happens all the time in foreign countries with less strict standards of conduct, but it doesn't make it right.

Tipping image via Shutterstock