I remember decades ago when a cocky young man on an international flight called flight attendants, or “air hostesses,” nothing more than waitresses in the air. I was appalled.

As a public relations executive with British Airways, I saw how hard these young men and women worked — and the often rude customers with whom they had to play nice. I respected and admired the BA flight attendants and understood the complexities of their job.

Frontier Airlines cabin crew are now asking for tips for in-flight beverage service.

Flight attendants are professionals. Yes, they are educated on methods to deal with difficult customers. But more importantly, they are safety experts. If you ever have a problem with your plane, they are the people you turn to for assistance. Do you really want to look at them as the people who just add ice to your drink and fluff your pillow?

Reaching the tipping point

Fast forward a few decades to 2019. You’ve come a long way baby — NOT! Frontier Airlines is now encouraging passengers to tip the cabin crew. Seriously? Yes, the uber-discount airline feels that the new program will help flight attendants supplement their salaries.

So, order a bloody Mary, and the payment touchscreen offered to you gives you a few options: a tip of 15, 20 or 25%. There’s an option to leave no tip, but doesn’t that just make you feel cheap and petty? It just makes me think that the poor staff is making so little money that the bosses feel that this new perk will make them feel warm and fuzzy. 

Seems like fuzzy math to me. The airline claims that its team members are the key to its success. “Whether they work behind the scenes or are out there delivering great service to our guests, each is tireless in their pursuit of excellence.”

Going the extra mile

“Every day our team goes the extra mile to make air travel easy and affordable,” the website says. “These efforts allow millions of people to have the chance to travel – to visit family and friends, take exciting vacations or create new businesses – every year. Our flight attendants are our best ambassadors and the heart of our airline.”

While Frontier seeks new cabin crew in Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Philadelphia and Trenton, we wonder if there is the listing should be for waiters and waitresses, based on the new “tip the crew” policy.

Maybe the airline should acknowledge their worth and just pay them more.