Now Reading
Should You Buy Sweets and Chocolate For The Flight Attendants On Your Next Flight?

Should You Buy Sweets and Chocolate For The Flight Attendants On Your Next Flight?

There’s a debate currently raging on a popular frequent flyer message board and it’s managed to divide opinion even more than usual. The question, posed by a regular flyer between the United States and United Kingdom was a relatively simple one: Should they buy sweets or chocolates for the flight attendants?

As a flight attendant myself, I know exactly how I would answer this: Absolutely, yes. I love a sweet treat and if someone wants to gift me some chocolate then I’m not going to turn it down.

But, it turns out, lots of frequent flyers and even some flight attendants find the idea of passengers turning up at the aircraft door with confectionary gifts a little ‘creepy’.

In fact, the biggest concern shared amongst frequent flyers was that it might come across as bribery. That might certainly be the case if you’re sitting in Economy on a bargain-basement hand baggage only fare and fancy getting ‘bumped up’ to a fancier seat.

I’ve certainly encountered that kind of situation myself. A passenger shows up with some cheap sweets and expects an upgrade. Most flight attendants, however, aren’t that easily bought.

The problem is that not only are free upgrades strictly against the rules (which could then end up getting a flight attendant in big trouble) but you’re effectively swindling an airline out of the money it should be making on selling a Business Class ticket.

So, while you might strike gold and get upgraded in exchange for a few bars of chocolate, it’s a long shot at best.

The other issue, then, is whether you are signalling you want preferential treatment. A free drink maybe or extra food. But do the math… You’re likely to spend more money on gifts than what you’ll save with a free bottle of cheap airline wine gifted in return by a flight attendant.

So what could be your motivation for gifting your flight attendant chocolate or, in some cases, Starbucks gift cards? Well if you just want to make a kind gesture and go into it expecting nothing in return expect then I for one will happily accept your gift (as would the vast majority of flight attendants).

It’s a lovely gesture that most flight attendants really appreciate. And don’t worry, we won’t start expecting it.

If, however, you’re hoping to gain something in return then, sure, go ahead. Just be prepared for a knockback.

Oh, and if you’re an airline employee travelling on a deeply discounted concessionary ticket then, yes, please spend some of the money you’ve saved on treats for your flight attendants.

View Comments (17)
  • I only buy them on international flights. I’m EP with AA and my company flies me business class, so there isn’t an expectation to get anything other than a thank you. One time, I flew CX and business was sold out, so I was in PE. The purser kept bringing me champagne from FC. It was really nice. Not expected, but a nice gesture. This was before Covid and I brought them Bath and Body Works personal hand sanitizers, Godiva chocolates, and some Kind energy bars. They were very gracious.

  • I do not bring FAs any type of food item because I would assume they would throw it away due to fears of contamination or spiking. I do always carry $10 Starbucks cards and give them out for exceptional service, or to the entire crew if I’m traveling on the day of a holiday because they will be away from home (most likely).

    • This is exactly what I do too. This way there is no perception of wanting something from the crew.

  • As a 37-year flight attendant I find this idea of bringing gifts and treats for us a rather new idea over the last eight to ten years. My crews have received some very nice gift items such as gift cards, luggage tags, lotions, quality candies, health bars and such. But honestly, while “appreciated”, I also feel a bit guilty accepting gifts as there isn’t much we can do to reciprocate in today’s airline environment with constantly full flights and rather strict rules regarding frequent flyer status upgrades (which we don’t deal with).
    If you enjoy bringing gifts, I say “Thank you!”, it’s a nice gesture.
    As I look at it, I have one of the best jobs to enjoy life. I’m flying around the world meeting new and interesting people on flights, staying in nice hotels and trying new foods while seeing the sites. For me personally, a sincere “Thank you!” at the end of the flight is appreciated as much as the gifts at the beginning.
    Safe travels!

  • I used to fly a lot before the pandemic in First Class and Business Class. I would always offer the lead flightt attendant some sweets and ask that they be shared with the whole crew including the guys up front. Always received with appreciation. Not asking for anything special but to let the crew know I appreciate what they do.
    I have also on occasion given money but that was after the flight had teminated.

  • I think it is a very nice gesture. As a former flight attendant, I always appreciated any show of appreciation from my passengers (yes, I viewed them as “my passengers,” since I was the only F/A on my flights. My husband is an AA pilot, and he frequently gets a box of chocolates for the F/As on his flights. He doesn’t want anything from them. It is just a nice gesture. Usually he does local treats from wherever they are flying home from. He flies international flights almost exclusively. Sometimes he brings cheese or salumi coming from Spain or Italy. He gets enough for the whole cabin crew to share.

  • I’ve only gifted something to the crew once, but didn’t expect anything in return. Nor would I have taken an “upgrade” because it would have been to a seat I didn’t want (from Business class 777 next to my partner to separated in First class would be unnecessary). I gave the crew those individually wrapped Ghirardelli assorted chocolates because we were on a Christmas Day flight. It really was just a token of appreciation. As I told the flight attendant I interacted with, they had to work on Christmas while we’re all sitting there. I think a small nominal gift like that is a nice gesture from my perspective, I hope it’s perceived that way too by the crew. I think it’s kind of scummy on passengers to be using something rather cheap to try and “work the system” for an upgrade. Do it because you genuinely care for the crew and are giving a small token of appreciation.

  • I would buy something and give it to them on my way out, providing the service was ok on the flight. This means no attempt at bribery, nothing creepy as I’m gone once I give them the gift.

  • If you try to bribe customer service staff with unwanted items then you are clearly after something more than just good service. Often, it will be additional onboard items or worse, sexual favours. The obligation is then passed onto the FA to give more than what is expected.

    Although Some FA’s encourage it because they are paid so poorly.

  • I was a flight attendant for 35 years and always appreciated little gifts from our passengers. Once, while flying home with from Amsterdam, I pulled the crew names (many familiar colleagues), and handed my giftlette to the flight attendant. “I figured you guys must be tired of chocolates so I brought you something different.”
    Crewmembers who knew me howled and those who didn’t were puzzled; a selection of canned sardines!

  • Rather than give gifts to the FAs, I just do my best to be a good passenger and expect to be treated like a decent human in return.

  • Until my recent retirement I was a frequent traveler SFO/NRT and would bring chocolate-covered fruits, plus one for the return flight. I usually dropped my bag on my seat then went to the galley to present this, thanking them in advance for their service. I always got a warm thank you, and my ROI was usually a little extra wine, sometimes from the next cabin since I was usually in Economy Plus. The exception was a return on Lufthansa, where the FA’sd looked at the item, shrugged, and then went back to their internal conversation, not even a “thanks.” A few l;onger discussions during those flights confirmed my idea that it was nice to get acknowledgement from a passenger as another humen, not just a drink server.

  • I give them to the attendants at the end of my flight, so no preferential treatment expected, just a kind thank you , especially around the holidays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.