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Do You Tip a Private Jet Pilot?

Tipping is common and even expected in many situations. You tip your hairdresser, your Uber driver, and your restaurant server. Generally, you tip those who provide you with a service. Pilots provide a service, but commercial pilots don’t get tips. This leads to the question, do you tip a private jet pilot? 

The general rule is tipping your pilot is appreciated but not expected. Some companies prohibit the pilot or crew from accepting tips. Turning down a tip is awkward. It feels similar to extending your hand for a handshake, and the other party not reciprocating. 

Do Private Jet Pilots Get Tips?

According to Forbes, private jet pilots get tips 25% of the time. They say there’s no discernible pattern or reason, and it comes down to the preference and generosity of the passenger. 

If you wish to tip your pilot, it’s a good idea to find out if they are allowed to accept tips beforehand. This will avoid the awkward tip turn down. You can find this information on the company website, or simply ask your pilot or crew. 

commercial private helicopter pilot
Yay Commercial private helicopter pilot

Do You Tip the Crew?

There are lots of people who help ensure a smooth and comfortable flight. The ground service provider, line crew, and cabin attendant are all key players in each flight. 

Tipping is more common for these crew members than the pilot. It’s considered good form to tip crew members, particularly if they provide exceptional service. 

On short flights, the pilot may also act as the cabin attendant. Consider tipping extra when the pilot is performing two services. 

Why Are Pilots Forgotten When It Comes to Tipping? 

Co-founder of PrivateFly, Adam Twidell, states that the baggage handler who brings the bags to and from the aircraft is the most commonly tipped crew member. 

This sometimes causes pilots to feel offended. After all, they are the ones who are placing and removing the bags from the cargo hold. Why aren’t they tipped for handling bags as the baggage handler is? 

One theory is that passengers feel pilots are higher paid, so tipping them isn’t important. There are essentially two types of people who receive tips.

The first is the group that relies on tips as a significant portion of their pay. Restaurant servers, for example, are often paid less than minimum wage. The majority of their pay comes from tips, instead of their regular wages. 

The second group doesn’t rely on tips to make a decent living. Hairdressers and taxi drivers get the majority of their pay from the fees they charge for the service. Tips are an appreciated bonus to their earnings. 

Pilots and crew members also fall into this group. Tipping isn’t relied on for income. Instead, it’s a way to show appreciation for the work they do. Pilots do make more than most crew members, but this shouldn’t be a barrier for receiving this token of appreciation. 

How Much Do you Tip a Private Pilot? 

It’s considered good form to tip your pilot, but how much do you tip a private pilot? Tipping too much can seem extravagant. Tipping too little can leave the recipient feeling offended, and is often seen as an insult. 

$50 is considered a reasonable tip for private pilots. The range often mentioned is $50-300 in the U.S. However, it varies greatly, just like the act of tipping itself. In the Middle East, tipping is more common, and luxurious, material tips are sometimes given.

The Tipping Debate

There are two schools of thought when it comes to tipping those who don’t depend on tips as a significant source of income. Companies that prohibit tipping do so because the pilot is simply doing their job. They are performing their expected duties, so a tip isn’t necessary. 

After all, tip stands for To Insure Prompt Service. The concept is that someone will provide better service if a cash incentive is offered for exceptional service. However, a pilot is expected to provide good service and get you there safely, whether a tip is given or not. 

Businesswoman Looking At Airplane Pilot
Yay Businesswoman Looking At Airplane Pilot

The other school of thought is that tipping is a way of showing gratitude for the services offered. This is why it’s often called a gratuity. If you are thankful for the service your pilot provided, why not reward them with a tip? 

In some countries, like the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and many European countries, tips are expected or appreciated, although the amount of the tip and etiquette varies based on the culture. In other countries, like Japan, tipping is actually considered an insult. In their view, doing their job well is expected.  

Tipping Options

There are ways to show your appreciation other than a cash tip. Some companies that don’t allow tips will allow small tokens of appreciation. A box of chocolates can be a very meaningful tip that shows your appreciation. A handwritten thank you note is also a great idea. 

Another way to tip without tipping is to call the pilot’s employer and tell them what a great job they did. This can pay off for the pilot in a bigger way than a $50 bill. 

The Type of Flight is Key

Pilots who work for large corporations or individuals generally don’t expect tips. Many corporations prohibit pilots from accepting tips. Pilots in these positions are generally well compensated, so tipping isn’t necessary. 

Tipping is appreciated by charter and fractional pilots. However, the pay is generally lower for these positions, so tips are appreciated. 

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