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Silly question re: wheelchairs and tipping


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OK this might seem dumb, but I was wondering if you're supposed to tip the customer service people in airports who wheel you to your gate and whatnot. It seems unfair if you ask me, but the last time (and first time) I did it, I kinda got the impression that I was supposed to. Long story short, I have to come home early from my study abroad program and although I've avoided flying since last fall, now I have to do it 3 times to get back home!

I mean when I feel like this I don't want to worry about making a social faux pas, but I don't want them to expect it and not get it... of course, the last time, I waited 2 HOURS for someone to pick me up from the check-in area sitting on a bench flagging down every customer service person who walked by, and they all gave me these really skeptical looks and brought the wheelchairs out to elderly people. I ordered one with my ticket! Thank goodness my mom had to leave town and dropped me off 4 hours early! Ooh I should have written a letter, but I didn't. So anyway- anyone want to chime in here?


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This is from another website on tipping:

"At the airport

The first opportunity to tip during travel is usually upon arriving at the airport or train station. Here are some tipping guidelines:

Porter or skycap - $2 per bag or more if the bags are heavy. $2 extra for curbside check-in is optional. If you arrive late and he helps you get to your flight on time, tip an extra $5-20.

Electric cart driver - $2-$3 a person.

Wheelchair pusher - If they are just pushing you down the ramp from the gate to the plane (or in reverse), then nothing. If it is from the ticket counter to the gate/plane or from the gate/plane to the luggage carousel, then $5 is appropriate. Tip more if they help you with your luggage ($1-2 per bag) or if they help you to your car. If they are pushing you from one terminal to another (long distances), then $10-20 would be appropriate plus extra for luggage. Tip less if they are unpleasant or rude.

Flight attendant or other in-flight personnel - Nothing .

Charter pilot - Nothing. It is not necessary to tip pilots unless they provide extra services. Then it is whatever you deem appropriate for the service. "

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so sorry to hear that you're having to cut your travel adventures short :( but i am glad you were able to be there as long as you were (and a bit jealous at that!)

in short the answer is yes, you should tip. true that those not using the service but that's the reality of living with a disability; things are more expensive. i personally think though that the $5 minimum offered above is a bit much, particularly if you have multiple legs to your flight; it's simply not realistic for everyone. obviously if it's feasible, that's great, but i also think that $2-3 is MUCH better than nothing.

i too have had bad experiences with waiting for chairs as i have had to use a wheelchair at the airport for years (prior to having my own) but keep in mind that 99% of the time the delay has nothing to do with the individual who ends up pushing you. doesn't excuse it in the least, but the problem is generally elsewhere...

i hope your travels home are as uneventful as possible...

hang in there,

B) melissa

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TIP?! Why on EARTH should you have to tip? "Oh, I'm sorry I'm inconvenient and in a wheelchair- have some cash?" That REALLY annoys me on principle. It's like we're apologising. My mum looked after disabled people for a living- she didn't expect to be 'tipped' for wheeling them about!

And would you tip a teacher, a bus driver or anyone else just doing their job? These people aren't going out of their way for you- they're doing their job.


To lighten up though, when I saw your header, I thought you were going to be talking about balance and tipping backwards out of a wheelchair! :( The light's on but no one's home, eh!

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I wanted to add that I don't think it's FAIR that people are expected to tip in circumstances like this. Come on....most of us are on very limited income and we can't help that we need the extra help.

At the same time, if you are traveling alone and don't have a friend or family member to wheel you around or assist you then unfortunately, as Melissa pointed out, it's the reality of living with a disability.

Also, the people who have these jobs often get paid less than minimum wage because tips are intended to supplement their pay.

In terms of how much to tip I think you have to keep in mind what airport/region of the U.S. you are in. If you are in Atlanta airport you will be expected to tip on the "higher end" if you are in Ft. Walton Beach airport, the airport is so small the personnel don't work as hard to get you from point A to point B and thus don't deserve (most likely) a $5 tip.

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Oh Persephone, I thought the same thing when I saw the topic post! :) I was wondering if people really tipped over alot!

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Thanks for all your input, ladies and gents. It wouldn't have occured to me at all (especially being treated like that by the other reps), but the woman who wheeled me was just chatting, and I think she said, something about 'now maybe you could help me out' but I wasn't sure, and at that point I was so out of it that I was a major space cadet and not listening, and moreover confused as to what I could help her with! I didn't have any money except for 20 pound notes, so there wasn't really anything I could have done.

There are just so many people you are supposed to tip in America, it's crazy! It's like a hidden culture of bribery or something. Plus, I've worked in restaurants and worked for nothing but tips, so I feel that's justified, but when salaried people or people who make real wages ask for tips, it seems unfair to me.

On top of which, for people with disabilities, like Melissa said, things are more expensive, which is ALSO more fundamentally unfair since it makes living a financially normal life more difficult between work and treatment.

I suppose if they charged a fee when reserving a wheelchair, they could be sued for discrimination, but if they can get people to give it willingly then somehow it's not the same thing? :P

Sorry for confusing you :D

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If you ever come through Chicago, you better tip. There was a story a few years back at O'hare airport where a man didn't tip the porter wheeling his elderly mom to the gate- I think the porter even asked him (the nerve!) and he refused. The man didn't go to the gate. well, the porter left his mom somewhere- not at the gate. Is this outrageous? Of course. But, I say, tip a few bucks and don't worry...

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