Carrier Bans Tips At Boston Logan, Appeals Ruling
On Thursday, American Airlines
announced it has banned tipping of skycaps at Boston's Logan
International Airport, after a judge awarded $325,000 to nine
skycaps who had sued the carrier, claiming a $2-per-bag curbside
check-in fee cut into their income, and violated the state's
As ANN reported, the skycaps
maintained the fee, implemented three years ago, led to a marked
dropoff in the amount of their tips... which, like food service
workers, make up most of their hourly pay. Passengers weren't
willing to shell out more money for tips, the skycaps said, on top
of the $2 charge... or, they didn't know the fee doesn't include a
If there's one thing American's anti-tipping policy does, it
removes that ambiguity... but Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney
representing the skycaps, called the airline's ban
"Tipping is a universal practice among passengers, and this is
how skycaps have earned their livings for decades," she told The
Associated Press. "Clearly, American's decision to try to stop
people from tipping skycaps is in retaliation against these skycaps
who asserted their rights under the state tipping law."
American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner retorts the tipping ban
was "in no way" a spiteful gesture, but was rather a necessary
measure to ensure American isn't violating Massachusetts law. The
state has one of the most employee-friendly tipping laws in the
country, which states all gratuities or service charges must be
paid in full to employees providing a particular service...
regardless of whether workers already make minimum wage.
"We have to ensure we're in full compliance because we can't put
ourselves at even more risk," Wagner said.
If that excuse sounds a bit strained, consider a recent
amendment to the Massachusetts tipping law will triple the
automatic fine for violations, effective July 13, 2008. If, in
fact, American was in violation of the law -- which the carrier
maintains it never was -- it would be hit hard by such fines.
American has appealed the judge's ruling; the skycaps, in turn,
will likely seek a court injunction to stop the appeal.
In the meantime, we're left with one question: just how,
exactly, does American plan to stop its customers from willingly
forking over a couple extra dollars to a skycap?