American Airlines Skycaps, Upset With Low Tip, Fill Suitcase With Garbage

Airport skycaps have been admittedly screwed over in recent years. Airlines have imposed $2 curbside check-in fees, but none of that money goes to the skycap. Most people don’t know that, and don’t tip.

But these American Airlines skycaps at Miami International Airport went too far in pushing for tips:

I checked one bag with him, and, after giving him $2 plus $1 tip, he said my tip wasn’t enough. I thought he was joking. He said $2 went to American Airlines, and he needed more than a dollar tip per bag to make a living. I said I thought the gratuity was up to my discretion. He said not if I wanted my bag intact when it arrived in Chicago – and suggested I take my bag inside if I didn’t give him a better tip.

I was stunned and asked the skycap next to him if harassing customers for tips was part of American’s policy. He said yes, with a smug look. I said I was going inside to talk to customer service. As I walked away with my baggage-claim number, he said he couldn’t guarantee my bag would arrive safely in Chicago.
I boarded the plane and picked up my suitcase in Chicago without a problem. But, when I got home, I found bags of messy garbage in my luggage! I had to dry-clean some clothing and am considering throwing away the suitcase.

A $1 tip gets you some complimentary trash. What would a $0 tip yield?

American’s response: “Appropriate action was taken.” The passenger got 8000 frequent flyer miles and an apology. No reimbursement for the dry cleaning bill. Stay classy, American! MARK ASHLEY

Give a good tip to Miami skycap or get a surprise in your luggae (sic) [Daily Southtown] (Run a spell-check, people!)
(Photo: dann :*)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    The HELL thats apropriate action. 8000 miles that AA will make DAMN sure you cant use?

  2. Rajio says:

    Pfft. Tipping is an archaic practice with no place in today’s economy. Can we just end it please and pay people a fair wage instead?

  3. MeanMachine says:

    Be nice to your exterminator too, or he just might take a dump in your attic. A word to the wise.

  4. Bye says:

    Something along these lines happened to us last year flying United. We walked into LAX and got into a long line to check our bags. A United employee came up to us shortly thereafter and asked if we already had our boarding passes (printed out before leaving home). When I answered “yes”, he grabbed my rolling bag and said, “Follow me – we’ll get these checked outside.” We normally tip $1/bag and when they tagged the bags and I handed the outside skycap 2 bucks, he said, “That’s not enough” and I was confused and asked, “Not enough for your tip?” His response was that United had just instituted a $2 fee per bag and that “none of that goes to us anymore”. I only had two more singles so I gave it to him and apologized for not having more. The guy just rolled his eyes and said, “You should think about that next time before you use our services.”

    I understand his frustration being screwed over by his own company, but he was just an ass. And when we went in, we saw the United employee pulling people out of line again routing them outside to check in with the skycap.

  5. scourge15 says:


    How do you people function in the real world? How can you say that tipping is archaic? You have a really self centered view on commerce if thats the case.

    When you use the curbside check in your essentially saving time waiting in the long line inside and alleviating yourself of a hassle. You think that $3 a reasonable tip for something like that?

    $5 is the minimum I tip when I’m using curbside checkin and while I obviously wouldn’t justify putting garbage in a passengers bag I’m pretty sure this “customer” was confrontational and acted like an entitled jerk.

  6. mopar_man says:

    I have no problem tipping people if they possess a SKILL. Handling baggage isn’t a skill. I wish I could go back into the kitchen at a restaurant and give the chef the tip instead of leaving it on the table. Sure, the waiter/waitress brought me my food but that’s hardly worth more than $1. The chef did a lot more work than he/she did.

  7. thisiskspraydad says:

    Use the 8000 miles to go back and put a cap in his ass. BTWIANAL

  8. WindowSeat says:

    I can’t condone extortion OR retaliation, but I do know one thing: Don’t piss off people who are serving your food or have access to your stuff.

    And mopar_man waiting tables is a skill, you may not recognize it as such, but it takes a certain amount of skill to do it right. The guy in the kitchen is on salary or making a decent amount an hour, the server is probably making sub-minimum wage plus tips and being taxed a flat 8% on their sales.

    By the way, you could buy a round of drinks for the kitchen if you were so inclined.

  9. revmatty says:

    The chef also gets paid a lot more. Most waitstaff only make 2-3 dollars an hour, because it’s expected that they will make it up in tips. Stupid? Yes. Fair? No. Such is life.

    I tip commensurate to the experience. If service is timely, friendly, and everything goes smoothly I tip 20% or more. I don’t even mind if there are problems, because mistakes happen. We went to two places last weekend where there were problems with our order (overcooked entree both times).

    At one place the waiter was very apologetic and promptly brought a replacement and even offered a free dessert (which we politely declined). He got a 20% tip because he handled it well. At the other place, the waiter just said “Oh, sorry. Do you want a box for everything?” Then he left. If we didn’t have a 3 month old that was starting to get fussy I would have waited another 15 minutes for him to get around to coming back, as it was I paid for the meal and left no tip.

  10. ptkdude says:

    He should be glad he didn’t find a certain barf-bag in his suitcase!

  11. faust1200 says:

    Let me get this straight. The OP walks away after the checker says “I can’t guarantee your luggage will arrive safely.” What happened to the good old days when the baggage checkers would simply lose your luggage?

  12. Falconfire says:

    @mopar_man: Like WindowSeat said, the Chef makes a salary, sometimes a very good one (I know head chefs at Macaroni Grill make over 60,000 with benefits), wait staff do not and routinely make 2-3 dollars a hour or less and usually have to split it with more than just themselves (if you have a food runner he gets part of that tip, you bought a drink the bartender gets part of that tip too)

    I agree though its a archaic practice and would much rather tipping be done away with and Restaurants forced to pay minimum wage or more per a hour to their staff.

  13. Pelagius says:

    8000 miles doesn’t even get you 1/3d of a domestic economy ticket. I’d escalate this.

  14. joopiter says:

    So how much “tip” is enough for the Skycaps? If the fee is $2 a bag, and you give the guy a $1 tip isn’t that a 50% tip? Are they getting paid any salary at all?

    I’m really glad I don’t travel by plane very often. The aggravation doesn’t seem worth it.

  15. mikesfree says:

    Since I paid my way through college as a skycap, this really caught my attention. I think its complete BS that the airline is charging for the service. I made $2.13 and hour but did get a fair amount in tips working for TWA (through a contracting company) in its final years. Although there wasnt much skill to it, just learning how to read the various types of tickets and memorizing all the airport codes (At first I almost accidentally sent some luggage to Siapan {I still dont know where that is})

    I think most of the people I worked with were fantastic. We could process 4 to 5 times the people that the counter could because we had the drive to do it. I helped hadicapped people, I helped overloaded people, and I offered information.

    In my opinion, the best thing about a skycap is that they work for tips. It means service to me.
    Some crazy bastards would give you $50 and others wouldn’t give you a dime. I still treat everyone with respect along with their belongings. However, Marshall Faulk (yes the football player) gave me 50 cents for unloading and checking all his crap. I wanted to give that guy a pass of two quarters to the back of his head.

  16. swalve says:

    If the guy was rude, why give him anything at all? There are other options.

    Also, waitstaff make plenty of money for the work they do. I’ve busted my ass for wayyyy less before. They would be the first to complain if tipping were stopped and a standard wage paid…

  17. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    As with all tipping, it’s pretty simple. It’s no secret that there are certain jobs out there that get by on tips. Not a single one of the jobs achieves something that cannot be taken care of by somebody else who does not require a tip. You can cook your own meals, eliminating the server. You can go to the counter eliminating the skycap. You can go pick up the pizza yourself, eliminating the delivery. If you do decide to use these services, you must tip. It is a social construct. If you fail to follow the construct, you must be ready to accept the consequences.

    Miss Manners can give you a handy guide on tip amount and percentage if you need a little help.

  18. Buran says:

    I don’t care whether or not the guy “should have” been tipped or not. There is NO EXCUSE for messing with someone’s personal property and the airline has no business opening customers’ luggage. That’s the TSA’s job, much as we all might hate it.

    This is why I put a lock on my suitcase that only the TSA can open. This is also why I don’t check anything if I can help it, and never, EVER EVER EVER check my camera backpack. That always is with me, under the seat in front of me and never even in the luggage bin – someone I know had his camera (a Nikon D200 like mine with some expensive lenses and accessories with it) stolen out of the overhead bin.

    I would have filed a lawsuit. This has nothing to do with their “contract of carriage” and everything to do with destruction of property, trespass, and vandalism.

  19. rbf2000 says:

    @mopar_man: It reminds me of Dwight Shrute from The Office, who says he never tips anybody for something that he can do himself. So the guy that delivered is subs got no tip, but he tipped his urologist.

    And the reason that tips are around at all is because there is such a little markup on the food, the restaurant can’t afford to pay them more. If you want to avoid tipping, be prepared to pay more per dish. In addition to that, the server won’t get an even cut of the increased profit. Also, they won’t have motivation to give outstanding service if they are straight hourly.

  20. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    Add on: I have no idea what to tip a Skycap. That’s what the Miss Manners part was about. Basing a $1 tip on $2 charge, though, is ridiculous, as they are not interdependent. I think $5 would have easily covered it and ensured extra special care of his bag.

    So, coming to my second tip of the day: Round up. The extra dollar or two (or four) won’t really register with you, but it makes a huge difference for those getting by on tips.

  21. bambino says:

    @umlaut75: Read the post. The guy did tip. The jackass skycap just said ‘that’s not enough’ as if he’s the one who determines what his tip should be. I say screw him, you should’ve taken your dollar back that very second just to spite him.

  22. Buran says:


    You mean, the consequences of “more money in your pocket”? Don’t get me wrong. I tip when appropriate, sometimes more than necessary. But tips are OPTIONAL. If I chose not to tip that would be within my rights and I would still expect good service.


    What someone gets paid is not my problem. If it’s not enough they can take it up with my manager.

  23. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    @bambino: I was not replying to the post in that screed, I was replying to the “Why tip?” questions in the comments. Sorry for the confusion. I should have clarified.

  24. Rajio says:

    @umlaut75: “t is a social construct. If you fail to follow the construct, you must be ready to accept the consequences.”?

    thats extortion buddy.

    cost of services are generally covered already. if i order food, the cost of the wait staff’s pay is covered in the cost of the food, or they could levy an additinal fee. why should consumers volunteer to pay some additional phantom fee of an arbitrary amount? aborb that into wages and everyone wins – even the public will win because now tips will be declared as income. ta da.

  25. mac-phisto says:

    i had a bartender tell me a $3 tip for cracking the top off 3 beers wasn’t enough. it’s the only time i’ve ever pulled back a tip before.

    i’m a pretty generous tipper b/c i’ve worked service for tip jobs before & they don’t pay very well (if you haven’t been there, you really have no standard for comparison). but i can get pretty ornery when someone tries to spend my money for me. there’s times when i’ve stiffed a waitress, bartender, etc. b/c of poor service, but they couldn’t even meet my low expectations.

    in this situation, my compensation would have been simple. pay the dry cleaning bill, replace my suitcase & inside, i want to see a personal letter of apology from the skycap, plus my $3 back.

  26. josh1701 says:

    While the passenger didn’t deserve what happened to them but if my luggage was threatened that way I would have surely taken it back and checked it in the terminal. I would have also let the skycap keep the tip because he obviously needed it more than I did.

  27. Buran says:

    @Buran: … their manager. Oops.

  28. formergr says:

    @jcase757: “If you want to avoid tipping, be prepared to pay more per dish. In addition to that, the server won’t get an even cut of the increased profit. Also, they won’t have motivation to give outstanding service if they are straight hourly.”

    jcase575, I’ve spent a lot of time in countries in Europe (Germany for example) where waitstaff for the most part get a straight hourly. Always got great service from them, and as a bonus it tends to reduce the godawful habit of American waitpeople acting like they want to be your best friend so that you’ll like them and tip better.

    The counter to your argument is that waitstaff who work on straight hourly take more pride in their work (since they’re not having to grovel to get paid), so they provide better service.

    Also, yeah we’d pay more per dish, but we wouldn’t be paying 15-20% tip so it would come out the same in the end. Not following your logic on that one…

  29. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    @Buran: If tips are too much for you, and adversely affect your bottom line, you should take appropriate actions, such as not putting yourself in the situations where tips are expected from the consumer. Personal responsibility, FTW!

    I’m not arguing that tipping culture is not archaic, it is. But it’s held on because of the demands of the consumers. Consumers want lower initial price points. I don’t believe that a restaurant using a 15-20% markup on menu prices will be as successful as one using the old, current, way. As long as Americans keep going for the lower price points, wages paid out by ownership will stay the same.

    Once again, to avoid confusion, my comments are directed at other comments. I do not condone vindictive action against anyone deciding that no or low tipping is enough.

    If I’m wrong to you, fine, I can handle it. It’s just my take on the situation.

  30. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    @Rajio: Tips are declared as income. Maybe the IRS is more money hungry than you thought? Joking aside, I have, in the past, been victim to restaurants claiming more in tips than I made. I was told as an aside by the bookkeeper that it was to keep suspicion off of the restaurant and to avoid an ausit. Maybe that was just a bad restaurant, I don’t know, bit it wasn’t the only one where my claimed tips were adjusted upwards.

  31. Mike Tyson's movie career says:

    I promise I’ll quit spamming now, but one more thing. Tips are a personal choice. The bartender saying a $3 tip is not enough? Bogus. You should pull that tip away. I fear that I have not been clear enough in saying that the skycap and that bartender and anyone else who accepts tips should do so gracefully. I can guarantee you, though, that they will remember the one who both tip them well and the ones that tip poorly.

    As an aside, I was caught out myself this summer and didn’t know what to tip a cabbie in Scotland for the ride. I asked him, and gave him a little above what he said. When push come to shove, don’t be afraid to ask, it is my experience that the tippee tends to name in the low range.

  32. phrygian says:

    I always assumed that tipping a skycap was similar to tipping a bellhop: $1/bag. CNN Money seems to agree with this —
    But, you can’t really blame people for not understanding that the $2/bag charge goes to the airline and not the skycap.

    I also assumed that skycaps were paid a wage and any additional money I provided was merely a gratuity. Are skycaps really paid sub-minimum wage?

    Regardless, the skycaps in this story behaving extremely inappropriately and AA should do much more than 8000 frequent flier miles.

  33. Jupiter Jones says:

    Why the hell did he leave the bag there after that conversation? While what the checker did was terrible, I certainly wouldn’t have just left the bag with someone threatening to lose it.

  34. ikes says:

    A favorite restaurant of mine here in san diego, the linkery ( has recently abandoned tipping. They pay their waitstaff wage (along with health insurance). They do charge an 18% gratuity to cover front of the house costs.

    Their argument has several fronts: first off, tipping doesn’t work. if you undertip (or leave no tip at all) for bad service, the waitperson just thinks you are a bad tipper. tipping does not improve service. secondly, tipping causes waitpeople to disrupt the flow of a restaurant by having to fawn over demanding customers which leaves others unattended. thirdly, tipping doesn’t cover any of the other front of the house costs. lastly, tipping makes for a disfunctional relationship between server and customer. imagine how much better dining out can be by having a waitperson who cares about the food and the restaurant and wants to provide good service for those reasons, not to make an extra $2. for me it is similar to shopping at REI.

    they make these points better than i can on their blog.

  35. Snakeophelia says:

    Tipping is a reward for a job well done. Demanding money up front to ensure that your luggage makes it in one piece is extortion. There’s a difference. I wouldn’t settle for the 8000 miles either. Suppose I had any personal information in that suitcase, and the guy decided to help himself to it while he was piling in garbage? This is outrageous.

  36. Justinh6 says:

    I never really seen the need for skycaps at all.

    I fly alot, and have no problem checking my own bag at the desk.

    After all, I did pack the bag myself, and lug it into my car, and lug it out of the trunk, all the way to the front door of the airport.

    Why should I pay someone $5 dollars to walk my bag a few feet to the desk when I can do it myself.

    Its just useless spending money this way. I have told skycaps “no thanks, i’ve got it” on several occasions, and never had one problem with lost luggage, or garbage in my luggage.

    The airline’s response is absurd. An employee basically destroys your property, and they give you 1/3 of one round trip ticket.

  37. Art Vandelay says:

    Having worked as both a pizza driver and waiter, I can confirm that tips are an essential part of our pay. I made $2.13 an hour as a waiter because it’s expected that tips will make up the difference. So to people saying tips aren’t necessary, go to restaurants where the food isn’t brought to your table, since you don’t appreciate the service someone who walks/stands for 8 hours a shift does for you.

    Same goes for pizza. If you don’t want the tip, drive to the store and pick up the food yourself. Delivery is an extra service performed for the customers convenience, and that time saved is expected to be compensated appropriately. Pizza drivers need money for gas and insurance, and 75 cents a delivery from company/customer doesn’t cover it.

    I gave equal service to all parties and took pride in my job, but if you’re a bad tipper and a regular at an establishment, your servers will remember you. This being said, what happened to the OP’s luggages is horrible and black eye to people who work hard for their tips.

  38. @ikes: That’s hardly a “tip-free” policy, no matter what they say on their site.
    No tipping would mean the price on the menu is the price that you pay.
    All they’re doing is adding a forced gratuity to the bill, which you have to pay regardless of service.

  39. @Consumerist: (Run a spell-check, people!)

    You guys are one(s) to talk! There are a rediculous amount of typos on this site, which we just ignore because, well, who cares. But now that you mention it…

  40. @idledebonair: Like the word “ridiculous,” for example.

  41. jurgis says:

    On tipping in restaurants… it is archaic, but in most states servers are paid $2-3 an hour and tips are supposed to make up the rest (to or above minuimum wage). This is both unfair and unfortunate, but isn’t going to change quickly.

    So for those of you who treat it as “optional”, thanks for making the world a worse place and being inconsiderate to your fellow man. Not everyone has options in life, just because you don’t have to depend on tips, doesn’t make you better than someone else.

    And for the record, “The US federal minimum wage for a tipped employee is $2.13 an hour” -> http://w… The only requirement is for employers to make up the difference. If you ever had to wait tables on your way up in life, the skill (and yes it’s not rocket science, but it does take some level of skill) required should dictate higher than minimum wage pay.

    It’s a messed up system, but by not tipping you aren’t being a crusader, you’re being a selfish ass. Which, unfortunately is becoming synonymous with “American”…

  42. AcidReign says:

    …..I worked as a restaurant cook for several years before I got a real job. Some of the waitresses at the better restaurants did share tips with the cook and busboy. It might have been only 10 or 15% of the take, but it was a good move. It was incentive to bust ass for that waitress, for sure!

    …..Skycaps, hotel porters, tour guides, sackers taking your groceries to the car, etc. I avoid ’em like the plague! And I’ll walk ten miles to my destination before I let a valet parker have my car!

    …..As to spelling errors, I’m still loving Firefox 2. It can’t keep you from taping the wrong word, though.

  43. BillyShears says:

    I never quite understood the point of curb-side check-in. It’s not like that line moves any faster than the self-serve queue inside.

  44. mac-phisto says:

    @ikes: i would have to agree with permissionmag here. they are just forcing gratuity & it sounds like “front-end costs” could even include the restaurant itself.

    i don’t mind tipping. at the establishments that i frequent, i have developed a positive mutual relationship thru good tipping, remembering people’s names, being polite, & NOT being demanding. i’m rewarded with preferred seating, fast service, hot food, quick drinks & freebies. to me, that’s worth the extra money i spend.

    & i also used to deliver food in college. trust me – delivery drivers remember. think in terms of time: it takes 10 mins. to make the food & it’s a 15 min. drive to the store. if that food takes 1 1/2 to get to your door, it means you don’t tip enough. that driver probably went home for a couple bong rips & a simpsons episode en route to your house.

  45. Falconfire says:

    @permissionmag: Um what the hell do you think they would do otherwise. To satisfy your idea o a no-tip all they would have to do is add a few dollars more to the price of the food. Here they are just saying there is a 18% service fee for your food. Pretty much the same thing.

    It is ALSO what many European and Canadian places do by default which is why they laugh hilariously when stupid Americans pay them 18% ON TOP of the 18% they are getting as a service fee.

  46. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Crazy skycaps, luggage handlers opening and stealing from people’s bags, airlines losing luggage.. these are reasons why I travel light and only bring carry-on bags.

  47. Greg L says:

    “Having worked as both a pizza driver and waiter, I can confirm that tips are an essential part of our pay. I made $2.13 an hour as a waiter because it’s expected that tips will make up the difference.”

    No, damn it, you didn’t. You made $5.15 an hour and that’s that. I am so incredibly tired of every overpaid whiny waiter complaining that they make $2.13 an hour and therefore rely upon the kindness of strangers. The restaurant is required to pay you $5.15 an hour. If you didn’t make $3 an hour in tips, then the restaurant has to make that up. Don’t try and perpetuate the myth that servers “only make $2.13 an hour” just so you can keep getting lucrative tips. Furthermore, we get into the argument of “claiming $2.13 an hour to the IRS while taking home cash tips that raise your hourly rate to $13+”, and the associated “bitching about credit card tips because they prevent me from performing tax evasion” deal.

    Every waiter that bitches about tipping never bitches about it too much because they know that they make a lot more money living off of tips than they would at any other unskilled job (and yes, waiting tables is a completely unskilled job. Anyone with basic skills of learning a menu and writing things down can do it, no matter what anybody says. Unless your restaurant has stars, you don’t need to know a wine list or pairings or any of the other crap that people try to come off with to justify their ludicrous salaries. If your restaurant DOES have stars, then you aren’t making $2.13 an hour.)

    “Same goes for pizza. If you don’t want the tip, drive to the store and pick up the food yourself. Delivery is an extra service performed for the customers convenience, and that time saved is expected to be compensated appropriately. Pizza drivers need money for gas and insurance, and 75 cents a delivery from company/customer doesn’t cover it.”

    No, actually, delivery is included in the price of the pizza, or I pay extra for it. If you aren’t getting paid enough as a delivery driver to make it a lucrative job, then quit! It isn’t my job to subsidize your paycheck entirely because you say so. You took the job knowing you get paid $X per run, plus minimum wage, plus tips if anyone decides to give them to you. If $X per run + minimum wage isn’t enough to make the job worthwhile to you, then don’t do it. I was an assistant manager at a pizza place for several months and can tell you that there are plenty of people who will happily jump in to take your driver job if you get sick of it.

    What happened to the OP is absolutely and completely ludicrous, and as someone who has worked a number of service jobs, I can tell you would never be considered acceptable, nor is the pathetic ‘remediation’ AA offered. If the $2/bag fee does not go to the skycaps at all and as a result the skycaps are making no money, then they should find another job. If nobody works for AA because the fee is ridiculous, then they’ll get rid of the fee, but until then, people don’t like to pay for the same thing twice.

  48. rockergal says:

    @mopar_man: Ask to speak with the chef. I do it all the time, and give him/her a nice tip.
    and they do appreciate it.

  49. MeOhMy says:

    You’re supposed to tip the guy at the curbside check-in? I guess I’ve always gotten lucky when I used them, because it never even occurred to me to tip those guys!

  50. mac-phisto says:

    @Greg L: “I was an assistant manager at a pizza place for several months.”

    is that so? hooray for you. you were the SOB that tried to garnish $200 out of my tip money when i got jumped. you were also the SOB that made me pay for the food that people never showed up for or refused to pay for, meaning that i had to try to hock them on campus to offset the cost i had to pay out of my pocket b/c some jerk called in a prank order. you were the SOB that tried pulling the fake ticket scam on me at least once a week to make me pay for orders that never went out.

    & yes, that was me that told the cops where to find the coke.

  51. XopherMV says:

    Greedy bastards… These baggage handlers are employed by the AIRLINE and performing a service for the AIRLINE. Were the baggage handlers not around, then the people at the customer service desk would have to do all this work. Instead, the baggage handlers save the desk people time and money, along with the AIRLINE.

    The baggage handlers should complain to the AIRLINE about their low wages, not the passengers. The passengers have already shelled out hundreds of dollars for the flight AND good service. The baggage handlers should be providing that good service SINCE THE PASSENGERS ALREADY PAID HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS!

    This sense of their entitlement to our money is ridiculous. Hell, the customers could do the baggage handlers’ job. Have those self check-in kiosks print out destination tags. Then, we can tag our own bags and lift it ourselves to the luggage belt.

  52. Art Vandelay says:

    “Furthermore, we get into the argument of “claiming $2.13 an hour to the IRS while taking home cash tips that raise your hourly rate to $13+”, and the associated “bitching about credit card tips because they prevent me from performing tax evasion” deal.”

    Funny, I don’t remember claiming any of this. My restaurant taxed me for 15% of sales, which took a decent chunk of the check I got from them. The point of listing my pay was to demonstrate why tipping is expected in American restaurants. I no longer work in food service.

    “No, actually, delivery is included in the price of the pizza, or I pay extra for it. If you aren’t getting paid enough as a delivery driver to make it a lucrative job, then quit! It isn’t my job to subsidize your paycheck entirely because you say so. You took the job knowing you get paid $X per run, plus minimum wage, plus tips if anyone decides to give them to you. If $X per run + minimum wage isn’t enough to make the job worthwhile to you, then don’t do it. I was an assistant manager at a pizza place for several months and can tell you that there are plenty of people who will happily jump in to take your driver job if you get sick of it.”

    If you order delivery, there is a charge, but not all of that goes to the driver, and you of all people, having worked for a pizza place, should know this. If you don’t like tipping the driver, get off your lazy butt and drive to the store and get it. That’s always an option and is actually faster. Once again, you’re paying for an optional service. I can’t think of any pizza place that is delivery only. I could make the delivery game work, but only through tips. And once again, I no longer work in food service since graduating.

  53. a_m_m_b says:

    @Buran “This is why I put a lock on my suitcase that only the TSA can open.”

    Do you get other staff requesting to search your luggage? How do you enforce this?

  54. jurgis says:

    @Greg L: Working at many restaurants (not thinking Denny’s), stars or not, requires a good bit of patience, knowledge (menus are crazy these days), and awareness. It’s not easy or fun work, but people end up in all kinds of places and the argument “just get a better job” is a very easy thing to say when you’ve never faced that.

    It must be nice on up on that horse.

    In an ideal world, people could do the jobs they were best suited for, wherever they may be. Just because it doesn’t require a college degree doesn’t make it easy.

    Your arguments speak to a larger social divide: those who want to help others and make the world a better place, and those who’s understanding of the golden rule is as a form of discipline (“if i were XYZ, I’d want to be poor/fired/punished…”).

    Your attitude makes me sad. The extra handful of dollars you might have given your poor waitress could have helped someone out. Your stance isn’t going to fix pay rates or help anyone, save yourself.

    This is part of why Europeans call Americans “cheap”.

  55. jurgis says:

    @a_m_m_b: Buy a TSA approved lock, only a TSA can open it (in theory) with a special key.

  56. eeebee says:

    My kids order pizza often when we go out and we would usually leave them a $20 to pay. I told my son to give the guy whatever change was left (meaning the coins) plus $2 for a tip. Somehow in his middle school head, he heard give the guy the change from the $20. This went on for a whole summer without us noticing but then we figured out we were tipping the pizza guy $8 or $9. It was a sad day at Domino’s when we figured it out.

  57. fishfucerk says:

    if you think tipping in the US is “optional”, you are a cheap bastard.

    it’s ok for you to be a cheap bastard, but at least have the gravitas to admit it.

    15% is the baseline ANYWHERE you have table service. If you are not planning on paying 15% in addition to the items you order off the menu, you should not be eating there.

  58. Anonymously says:

    I’ve never even heard the term “skycap” before, so I had to look it up. There’s suggested tipping info on there.

    I’ve always avoided those guys because I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Do they work for the aiport or the airline? Why would I give that guy my luggage instead of carrying 50 extra feet?

    In Australia there’s no tipping (for the most part) and it’s quite refreshing. Yes, the price of food and services is higher, but it simplifies everything.

    (As for shitty jobs, try mowing a practice football field with a push mower in 100 F weather for $5.15 an hour.)

  59. Bourque77 says:

    Tipping is a very touchy subject with a lot of people. However most of your $2.13 and hour waitstaff are far from professional (in my experiences) and so they might come to my table with an attitude because so and so stiffed them on a tip right before I sat down. Guess what, if you have an attitude when I first walk in the door dont expect much of anything from me. There are of course places now that add 15-18% on your bill for tipping. If I go to one of the places then that 15-18% is the tip, not my 20+% i usually leave (assuming the service was there). I have worked in restraunts and heard I dont know how many waitresses bitch about tips. Yeah maybe you are right but you keep bitching and get pissed off and carry that attitude around with you to your next table. Hate it or love it tipping is not a requirement, you want a tip from me? earn it. I dont expect you to wait on me hand and foot like I’m a king. I expect you to be nice and pleasant if you cant do that, I cant leave you a good tip.

    Face it everyone has rough days where they take out their frustration on others, In service industries where you get tips that just happens to affect your pay. I do know thats not always the case for bad tips but it damn sure is in my case. I’ve been at restraunts and got up to get my own drinks because the waitstaff wasnt around, yes I have enough common sense to know if its to busy or not. From working in a restraunt I know things happen and food isnt always perfect but running out of whatever it is im drinking is nobodies fault but yours, dont let me run out of my coke or whatever and I’ll leave a good tip, unless you just come around my table mad at the world.

    In this story however I assure you if someone tells me my tips isnt enough I will promtly take my money back and keep on walking, with bags in hand.

  60. Greg L says:

    @jurgis: I incredibly resent the assertion that Americans are ‘cheap’ because some of us are willing to say what others won’t – working at a restaurant is an easy job, unless you are working at a very high-end restaurant. Memorizing the 10 ways you can order the penne alla arribata does not require a great deal of work. Yeah, it requires patience and awareness just like every other service-industry job on the planet, most of which do not receive any tips.

    I’ve worked in several chain restaurants and you realize this is why I don’t anymore. I realized the industry sucks and left it. It sure must be nice to be able to make blanket assertions about people you’ve never met and their work history because they’re willing to call a spade a spade.

    I tip exactly 15% everywhere no matter what, as there’s absolutely no benefit to tipping more and tipping any less means you might get your food messed with, so my ‘arguments’ speak to the fact that if you’re going to endlessly whine about your job, maybe you should consider just how good you have it in the first place.

    The ‘extra handful of dollars’ that I have I earned and I have no obligation, right, or desire to ‘help a poor waitress out.’ I went out to have a meal, not to participate in a charity event. If the ‘poor waitress’ is doing so poorly as a waitress, then she should get another job. They do exist! Trust me, as someone who escaped from foodservice, it can be done! Waitresses do not want to leave food service because they have most of the population bamboozled into believeing they make below minimum-wage and therefore require charity to not starve to death.

    Further, if Europeans are so superior because they give random service employees extra money…. oh wait, they don’t. Europeans don’t tip. So, somehow I fail to see where this argument even remotely came from. Americans don’t tip, therefore they’re cheap, Europeans don’t tip, and therefore are generous. Right.

  61. Brian Gee says:

    Perhaps “discretionary” is a better word to use than “optional”. When I go to a sit-down restaurant, I expect I’ll be tipping about 20% on the meal. If the restaurant includes an “18% gratuity” automatically, then that’s that. But generally the wait staff doesn’t have to do anything “above and beyond” to get a good tip. If anything, they have to do something negative to “earn” a bad tip from me.

    As long as they aren’t rude and don’t leave me waiting for a LONG time (before taking my order, or when my drink is empty, or when I’m done and waiting for the check), they can pretty much count on at least 20%; its easy math (just double the bill and shift the decimal point), and I’ll usually round up to the dollar, not to mention they’re getting tipped on the tax (where applicable).

    On the other hand, if they do something to piss me off, I’ll break out my 3rd grade math skillz and give them 15% to the penny. I’ll only stiff a waiter under really, really special circumstances. I can’t even remember the last time that’s happened, but it has happened, and they certainly deserved it.

    If a waitperson is chronically taking home only $2.13/hour, and consistently “getting screwed” on tips, then they should consider a career change.

  62. jitter says:

    Unfortunately, I think it is painfully obvious from the comments that some people have made a living from tips, and others have not. When I was waiting tables, I just thanked God that I didn’t have to wait on Mr. Pink every day.

  63. andrewsmash says:

    To anyone who thinks that restaurants aren’t trying to screw over their employees – watch what their lobby does every time there is a minimum wage increase. Management makes their bonuses based on the profitability of their individual store, district, etc., all the way up to the corporate offices. One of the best ways to increase profitability is too minimize the amount of money the store pays its employees – so if they can make the people eating food pay their employees directly, less is spent on wages. It also makes the wait staff be nice to people. Waiting table is dirty, tiring, and thankless work – you have to deal with people when they are hungry, often you skip breaks so your section isn’t abandoned, and you have to deal with other peoples problems on a daily basis. If you have to rely on tips, you are going to think twice before you tell someone to control their damn kid or that 15 refills of soda is an abuse of the free refill system. If you want to be able to stop tipping, then only eat at restaurants that pay decent wages and make tipping what it was meant to be – a thank you for attentive service, not an underhanded attempt to pass the costs directly to the consumer.

  64. KJones says:

    I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming the victim, but if I read this right, the lady travels with her bags unlocked.

    In this day and age who would? Or is there some law in the US which requires no bag be locked on domestic flights? A decent and inexpensive lock won’t add much to your weight and will prevent invasion except by the most persistent thief since there isn’t time for a baggage handler to fiddle with the lock.

    I lock all my bags when travelling, and I have the check-in clerk examine and agree that any side pockets were empty and have her put stickers around the zipper keys. (Never buy a bag with only one zipper on an external pocket!)

  65. NoStupidEconomicParadigms says:

    I’m with Rajio. Tipping is sleaze, pure and simple. And absolutely the last place, in a post-9/11 world, where any kind of tipping of anybody should be occurring is an airport. It is wildly inappropriate that anyone handling luggage can legally accept tips. It should be illegal, plain and simple. It is, at minimum, a serious security issue. I’m shocked that it has apparently been overlooked.

    Tipping sets up extortion, bribery…when tips are involved, every single interaction with a customer is a game to be played.

    It rewards waiters for the chef’s work, and can punish a waiter for the restaurant being busy. It discourages team-based service.

    It encourages an entire underground economy where people who accept tips don’t pay the same rate of income tax as the rest of us.

    It’s f*cked up economics. It’s f*cked up psychology, f*cked up social relations, too. Read the book “Punished by Rewards.” Note the concept of overjustification.

    It’s a flipping curse. It’s amazing that any kind of tipping paradigm still exists in 2007.

    There are better ways, people.

    Restaurants, etc. need to start having some gonads and (1) pay employees fairly and honestly, and (2) price things for customers fairly and honestly. End the game playing. Wouldn’t that be a relief to everyone?

  66. SOhp101 says:

    10% – bad service at a regular restaurant
    15% – regular service at a regular restaurant
    20% – regular service at a good restaurant

    If your service is that bad at a restaurant to warrant

    Also, if any customer service oriented person mentions something about how ‘they don’t get paid enough for what they’re doing for you,’ then GET ANOTHER SERVER/SKYCAP PERSON IMMEDIATELY.

    Although it sucks to get your luggage stuffed with trash, he should have immediately taken back his luggage and checked it in himself.

  67. Coder4Life says:

    Wow, just gave them 8000 miles… What about compensation for the cleaning and everything else. Where has the management gone?

    I hope their garbage man just throws their garbage all over their yard because they didnt leave a tip for them or something.

    They are already charging you $2, why the heck should you have to tip them? Doesn’t make alot of since.

    It would be like tipping the hostess at a restaurant that sits you down. Because she got you a comfy booth instead of chairs… NOPE..

  68. knorby says:

    Actually the skycaps are not employed by the airline; the airlines contract out the work to separate companies.

    Although American’s image doesn’t look great, this guy should have contacted the skycap company for a reimbursement. American doesn’t have financial liability, so the miles are really beyond what American needs to do. I am guessing that American might not higher this company in the future.

  69. AcidReign says:

    …..Having worked in the food biz, back 30 or so years ago, I can say definitively, that tips were a great BONUS! I can also say, as a cook, my single worst experience with a “paid customer” was when both of our waitresses were sick. I was force to serve as a waiter, which I would have groveled face-down in piss to avoid. Still, the local US rep Ben Erdrich, was eating with his family at our little eating place. I cheerfully took their order, agreed to “off-menu” items, and retreated to fix their order. I got everything ready in a matter of of less than ten minutes; carried everything to the table, and produced their bottle of Mondavi cabernet, chilled to perfection to 60 degrees in our fancy wine-machine. Result? Nasty, no longer in office Alabama District 7 congressman Erdrich left a 4 dollar tip on a bill of $175. “Mr. working class,” indeed. This how democrats make Republicans of us all…

  70. jurgis says:

    @Greg L: Of course they don’t tip in Europe, prices are higher to compensate for it. Then again, sometimes the service is a bit more relaxed… like getting coffees and then hanging out and smoking with you, instead of getting you a refill or serving someone else.

    Americans have a reputation as being cheap and foolish… whenever I go overseas (I am not originally from here) it’s the same thing, “Americans are obsessed with money and it’s all they talk about: they drive giant cars and then hold their purse strings so tight that they will fight with someone to save a few dollars.”

    If this sounds directed at you, it is indeed not-so-much… but in a country with a history of bizarre oppression and socio-economic inequities parting with a few extra dollars isn’t a big deal.

    There is a saying, “a person who is nice to you, but mean to the waiter is not a nice person.”

    Make the world a better place, who cares if you are rich in the end, that doesn’t really matter.

    For the record, I agree with the general complaint that the article addresses: the skycaps should just quit.

  71. Blisspix says:

    @Greg P: no tipping “for the most part” in Australia is about right. I’ve noticed some fancier bars are trying desperately to make us a tipping culture. They give your money back entirely in change on a tray. I refuse to tip for drink service in Australia.

    If I have a good meal, I will do as the Europeans do and round up a couple of dollars.

    What I dislike most about Europe: paying to use public toilets. I prefer tipping in the US for most things rather than having to hand over 50 Euro cents to use the toilet.

  72. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    I can’t believe he knew the two guys were pissed off about his under-tipping and he didn’t even bother to jot down both of their names. Plus, threatening to report them to customer service and NOT actually doing so is pretty much just asking to be abused by these employees.

  73. mad_oak says:

    SO we all agree that the airline charging $2 for curbside is absolute b.s. Its just capacity they would have to have elsewhere. That said, if you are going to frickin use curbside, get a clue as to what to tip ya cheap bastard.

    Nobody walks into work to hear the boss say “You know, I customarily pay you $20 per hour, but I just forgot to set aside the money this week for your pay. HERE’S $10 PER HOUR, DO A GOOD JOB FOR ME.”

  74. snowferret says:

    What? its not like they ONLY make what they get in tips is it? What kind of wage are they making? I don’t get tips and I don’t harrass people. I hope they fire the fuckers.

  75. orbraveheart says:

    sorry I have no idea what a Skycap is, can someone shed some light on this service? PS I’m from Canada I don’t think we have these guys.

  76. bitplayer says:

    In the old days you could straight up bribe the skycaps to put through additional pieces of luggage and avoid fees, etc. I don’t know if this is done anymore because I refuse to check baggage. I’ve lost too many bags.

  77. Walkallovaya says:

    Once, I was flying NWA, and the skycap really blatantly started panning for a tip. I was getting my stuff together, and planning on tipping, after he printed my tags and put my bag on the belt. But he was such a jerk to make mention of the tip, before he was done with the work, that I decided not. Needless to say, I arrived without one of my shirts.

    These people do almost NOTHING, imo. Print the tag, and turn around with my one bag, and pick it up and set it on the belt. That’s not worth anything, period. Someone please explain to me why they deserve a tip when I could walk a few feet in the door and receive the same service with no tip expected. But, I had been tipping because others tip.

    Never again will I use a “skycap”.

  78. Trackback says:

    Skycaps have been getting screwed for the past few year. They used to offer their curbside check-in service for tips alone, but then the airlines got into the act, charging a mandatory $2/bag. But many (or most?)

  79. Anonymous says:

    I think when people complain like this, its pretty common there’s a fair amount of of exaggeration of the actions of the “offender” as well as a minimization of the complainants’. In public service it is very, very common. Frankly I’m shocked when otherwise intelligent people don’t see through this.

    This story reeks of this kind of deception. I worked as a skycap and a manager for many years and I can tell you that it’s a very, very unusual case for a skycap to outright, verbally ask for more money and then outright tell you you might not get your bag intact. I’m not saying, nor do I condone that it has happened to people. But run the risk of getting fired for telling someone that?

    In all my years as a skycap, I’ve never even HEARD of a skycap doing all that, and I’ve known of skycaps getting fired for much, much less. I’ve personally fired skycaps over the years just for “intimating” or just giving bad service, let alone what’s proffered here. In my company it was a terminable offense, on the spot to ask for a tip. Period.

    I love how people try to put qualifiers on things, to their benefit. It should be “a skill” before someone gets a tip? Really? LOL!! Where’s that written?

    It is a convenience to the passenger to get your bags taken care of right here, right now, rather than going through the hassle of getting in a line. If you really do look down on people like that who are trying to make a living, don’t use their service. Simple.

    In no way would I justify what the skycap did, if it was, indeed the case. But I tend to think there’s quite a bit of deception written here, quite honestly.