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Wheelchairs

How Much to Tip Airport Wheelchair Attendants [Etiquette]

Written by GrigorinaLoa
Last Updated :
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Do you want to know how much to tip airport wheelchair attendants?

A few months ago, I needed wheelchair assistance at the airport, so I spent a couple of days researching if I should tip the airport employees. 

And I’m here to tell you all about tipping and what’s the proper protocol to follow. 

Just keep reading. 

Quick Summary

  • Airport wheelchair assistance covers helping a disabled or elderly passenger around the airport in all key areas – from the terminal to the departure gate to the aircraft seat. 
  • Airports are required by law to provide wheelchair assistance to disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility throughout the airport free of cost.
  • You can tip the wheelchair attendants based on how much they assist you and how happy you are with the provided service. 

What Do Airline Wheelchair Attendants Do?

Before I get to tipping for wheelchair assistance, let’s talk about what wheelchair services airline attendances provide for travelers with disability.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (1): 

wheelchair attendant assisting the senior
  • Wheelchair attendants assist you from the terminal to the check-in counter, the boarding gate location, onto the aircraft, and your designated seat. 
  • Attendants help you from your seat through the airport to the arrival gate location for connecting flights or to the baggage-claim area and the terminal. 
  • They also assist in carrying the gate-check baggage or carry-on items when the person cannot do so. 

It makes sense to have attendants for disabled travelers since larger airports require you to cover a lot of distance on foot before you reach the gate for your incoming flight.

And some disabled people may have problems finding their airline seat, checking their baggage, or reaching the airport check-in counter/rental counter. 

Check this short video to see wheelchair attendants in action:

So, since the wheelchair service covers many areas, should you pay extra to have wheelchair attendants in airports? Let’s find out!

How Much Does Airport Wheelchair Attendance Cost?

You don’t have to pay anything to get wheelchair attendance for your domestic or international flight in the USA. The public service provider – the airport – covers the costs to ensure equal access.

Attendants are employed by airport authority contractors and receive around $14 per hour or $29,250 per year, according to Talent.com. (2)

For people outside the USA, check your country’s registration or airline company policy to see if you have to pay a fee for attendants before you travel. 

And is it customary to tip wheelchair attendants? 

Should You Tip Airport Wheelchair Attendants?

So, since wheelchair assistance to passengers is cost-free, should you tip the airline employees? Most company policies don’t forbid it, so it’s an individual decision. 

Some people don’t tip because they don’t consider it necessary. After all, the attendants get their salary from their employer and don’t rely on tips as much as other professions. 

It’s also worth mentioning that tipping is not common in some countries, so not all foreign travelers consider tipping. 

But most well-mannered travelers will give a small tip, even for minimal airport assistance. And if you ask me, a good service warrants recognition. 

So, let’s see how much you should tip your wheelchair attendant. 

How Much Should I Tip My Wheelchair Attendant?

How much you should tip your attendant depends on the tipping situation – attendance attitude, circumstances, service provided, and the airport size. 

For example, if the attendant spends extra time with you, helps you with airport transfer, waits for you at the international gate, etc. I will give around $10.

Attendants that assist with difficult tasks, carry baggage, help with personal wheelchairs, and ensure wheelchair person’s comfort during flight time deserve a bigger reward – a $20 -$40-dollar tip. 

However, if the attendant provides only a short ride to a nearby gate or doesn’t assist you past the ticket counters, a small 3-dollar tip can be enough. 

It’s all up to your philosophy on tipping and what you consider appropriate to show appreciation for a well-performed service.

But what about the flight attendants and the airline crew? You’d be surprised! 

Should You Tip Flight Attendants or the Flight Crew?

Most companies have an airline policy that forbids airline personnel from receiving tips. So, you can’t tip the cabin crew even if they provide assistance beyond their typical range. 

Moreover, some airplane pilots and flight attendants might get offended if you try to tip. As Sara Nelson from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA says, “Tipping undermines our role.” (3)

Also, you shouldn’t tip the gate attendants, the check-in agent, or other airline staff.

If you want to show gratitude, you can give a non-cash gift or write a positive review on social media about your airplane experience. 

And now, let’s talk about how you can require an airport wheelchair attendant to help you navigate the airport during your international or domestic flight. 

How to Request Wheelchair Service for a Flight?

You should inform the airline in advance that you require mobility airport assistance. It’s best to do it at least 48 hours before your scheduled flight. You can do it when you book the flight or call afterward. 

Moreover, you should let the airline know if you’re traveling with a mobility device, especially if it has a spillable battery. 

FAQs

1. Who Should You Tip At the Airport?

You should tip the outside baggage handlers and the wheelchair attendants. However, do not tip gate agents, check-in-counter agents, and the cabin crew for assistance at airports. 

2. Should You Tip a Baggage Handler At an Airport?

You should tip outside baggage handlers per the number of bags they must carry. Usually, $1-$2 per bag is enough. 

3. How Much Do You Tip For a Wheelchair?

For normal-distance wheelchair assistance to/from the gate location, you can tip $3 – $5. If the wheelchair attendants spend extra time with you during the air travel, you can tip more. 

Conclusion

Tipping your airport wheelchair attendant isn’t a complicated matter. A couple of dollars can be enough to show your gratitude for airport assistance. 

However, it’s not necessary to tip wheelchair attendants, especially if you’re unhappy with the provided service. 

attendant assisting the senior in a wheelchair at the airport

What do you think about this topic? How much do you tip airport wheelchair attendants? Share your experience in the comment section. 

Resources:

1. Wheelchair and Guided Assistance | US Department of Transportation [Internet]. www.transportation.gov. Available from: https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/wheelchair-and-guided-assistance

2. Wheelchair Attendant Salary in USA – Average Salary [Internet]. Talent.com. [cited 2023 Feb 14]. Available from: https://www.talent.com/salary?job=wheelchair+attendant

3. Nast C. We Asked Flight Attendants: Should Passengers Tip Cabin Crew? [Internet]. Condé Nast Traveler. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 14]. Available from: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/tipping-flight-attendants

About Author

GrigorinaLoa
Grigorina discovered that writing is her vocation early in her school years. Since then, she's taken part in several literary contests. For the past three years, she's also been an ELS teacher, pouring her heart into showing children and adults how important English is for their future. She has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics, an ESL Teacher's degree, and a Master's degree in Accounting. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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