A skycaphefts a traveler's bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

From the Travel Desk: Tip to show your gratitude

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • November 22, 2013 - 1:56 PM

I recently read a story that was intelligent, funny and engaging, but still downright depressing. It focused on travel gripes, from mile-high armrest hogs to hotel drapes that allow a sliver of light to pierce through. I didn’t need a reminder that the high costs of hotel rooms and airline tickets don’t inoculate anyone from the vagaries of real — and inherently imperfect — life.

After delving into such a host of peeves, I was especially delighted when I opened the next e-mail in my in-box. A woman had written to praise the special assistance her 90-year-old mother received at the airport. It was a rarity: a happy traveler question.

“On arrival, an attendant with a wheelchair met us at the door of the airplane, waited for us outside the restroom and at the baggage claim, and left us at the rental car shuttle … the unexpected bonus for me as I trotted behind was having someone guide us through the airport. How should one tip for this service? Who employs these workers?” she asked.

Those helpful people who push wheelchairs and zip hurried passengers on electric carts work, in the most part, for companies that contract with the airlines.

How well are they compensated? I can only guess. Are tips required? No. But if they treat you well and ease your way through the airport, I suggest pulling out your wallet. Skycaps get from $1 to $2 a bag. These folks should get a monetary emblem of our gratitude as well, say, $5 for an efficient wheelchair push.

If money isn’t at your fingertips, do the next best thing. Look your helper in the eye and give them your sincere thanks — which would be nice to do throughout your travel experience, from ticket counter to taxi home. It’ll warm you up for the upcoming holiday.


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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