How Much Do You Tip a Skycap?

February 19, 2024

Many travelers are unclear whether they should tip a skycap, the person who helps passengers check in luggage curbside. According to travel etiquette experts, the answer is a bit complicated.

In general, tips are offered per piece of luggage or item. This is usually the case in the United States, though some airports charge a flat rate for curbside check-in. Often, the fees are split between the airline and a contracted service company that employs the skycaps.

Before airlines began charging a fee for checked bags, travelers used to use the curbside check-in option for free. This allowed them to skip the line at the airline counter and was generally convenient. The skycaps who performed this service earned the minimum wage for tipped employees. As a result, they relied on tips for much of their income.

When the fees for checking luggage were introduced, some passengers began to tip less, or not at all. Others complained that it was unfair to tip the baggage handler who was essentially performing a service they had previously received for free. The American Airlines skycaps who work at Logan International Airport fought back and sued the airline for the right to collect tips.

Consumer reporting organizations like USA Today and Trip Advisor suggest that the standard gratuity for a skycap is $1 to $2 per bag. However, it is best to use your judgment and consider other factors, such as weather conditions or the number of bags.

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