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Do You Tip Airport Shuttle Drivers? What Is an Appropriate Amount?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Complimentary airport shuttles to/from hotels and offsite parking lots are great. They save us money on taxis or rideshares such as Uber and Lyft (although credit cards that give us monthly or annual credits can help offset their costs).

But should we be inclined to tip shuttle drivers — especially because the rides are free?

I say no.

And here’s a kicker: I worked for three years driving a hotel’s complimentary airport shuttle!

Our Tipping Culture

Tipping is a topic several of my fellow Boarding Area bloggers have discussed. Tip jars are practically everywhere. Pick up your dry cleaning? Oh, leave a tip. Pump your own gas but head into the gas station snack shack? Tip, please!

(Tipping in America has some fairly dubious history, actually.)

As someone who worked cruddy, minimum wage jobs in high school and college, tips were vital to my income. My sister was a server at several restaurants. So I’m empathetic to tipped workers and love rewarding a job well done. I know firsthand how much the gesture is appreciated.

But I’m compelled to not tip when the service provider doesn’t make an effort, is aloof, or a combination of the two.

This brings us to —

Tipping Airport Shuttle Drivers

I loved driving the Radisson Hotel Fargo’s airport shuttle.  I met lots of interesting people and AvGeeked at the airport. Tips were earned not just from helping with luggage — but greeting guests with a smile, offering to answer questions about the area, providing recommendations, and making them feel as though I took care of them. This was a reliable recipe for tips.

That’s sort of my standard for tipping shuttle drivers.

Case in point: I recently stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Austin Airport. My shuttle driver from AUS to the hotel was a welcoming, chatty older woman. She loved talking about Austin, travel, her family, and was happy to provide restaurant recommendations. (She fit a lot in during that ride!) I was traveling fairly light, with only my TravelPro Maxlite Rollaboard and Maxlite Laptop Backpack. I fractured my wrist four days earlier and wore a splint. She insisted on helping with my bags, even though I didn’t really need assistance.

I happily tipped her $5. Why? She gave great personal service and did more than just drive the bus.

Her colleague driving the next day, though, was exactly the opposite.

“Who are you?” she coldly greeted me. I told her I was originally reserved on the 6:00 AM shuttle but made it down for the 5:30 AM ride.

Big sigh.

I climbed aboard the shuttle, put my bags in the rack, and took my seat just before we shot through the streets.

She was quite displeased with the heavy traffic at AUS that morning. I know this because she was quite verbal. Not in a joking — or even dry — manner. But angry. And unpleasant.

She did not get a tip.

Basically, if you even offer to help with my bags and wish me a good day as I depart the shuttle, you earn a tip. (Personally, I tip $2 for one bag, $5 for two or three pieces, and then $1 or $2 for each after). But some parking lot shuttle drivers at LAX can’t be bothered when my wife or I carry our daughter and need to get all our luggage off the bus. They don’t get a tip. (For what it’s worth, QuikPark at LAX has pretty decent drivers. Although, it’s only a 15-minute walk from Terminal 3, so we usually do that.)

What Do You Think?

Do you have standards when it comes to tipping shuttle drivers? If you tip, how much do you usually give drivers? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below! –Chris

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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10 Comments

  1. Honestly, I feel better now! Because my tipping behaivior is similar to yours: no service, no tip. Good service – tip. Outstanding service – grat tip. Some shuttle drivers (hotel, rental cars) lost the last few trips a lot of money: travelling with my wife, 3 pieces of luggage (and myself handicapped) – and no help offered. Thats America 2019.

  2. Ralfinho

    It depends on if we are helped with the bags or not. Usually, hotel shuttle drivers happily help us with the bags both when loading and when unloading. Then they get a tip. Often, drivers of rental car busses don’t help but just drive the bus. Then they don’t get anything from me.
    Since I once read something about a buck per bag most times I give $5 as a thank you for helping us with our four bags. Even when I am quicker and get one or two bags myself, but it was clear that the driver would have taken them.

  3. I generally tip a couple of dollars but the amount depend on the city. In places like SF, LA, NY, the cost of living is so high, $2 may not seem like a lot but in some other cities, $1 seem like a good amount when you have shuttle full of people tipping.

    In addition to service, I also gauge the tip amount on wait time. I think hotels that run frequent shuttle for our convenient should get a bigger tip.

  4. DaninMCI

    Agree with this. I have found that some more “official” shuttles and busses don’t allow tipping. Usually if a driver is just fairly decent, does a good job and isn’t “faux nice to get a tip” I will usually tip them and I try to get it out ahead of arrival so that other passengers might pick up on the cue.

  5. For my hometown airport park-and-ride, I always tip. These are guys (and gals) that I will see again and it pays off in future proactive service. On more than one occasion, I have seen the vans that were on their way out turn around and pick me up, saving me a few minutes and earning them another few dollars.

    For away-from-home shuttles, it depends. I won’t be a regular customer so it depends solely on the immediate service rendered.

  6. I always tip shuttle drivers a couple of bucks per bag or if at my normal parking lot, $5.00 per trip. All the driver know me at my regular lot and give me great service for that nominal tip.

  7. Barry Graham

    I tip sometimes. Since I feel this is a service that shouldn’t be necessary (because car rental facilities shouldn’t be located so far that they require a shuttle other than a monorail) I don’t feel I am obligated to tip, but I usually end up feeling guilty if I don’t.

  8. If the driver is pleasant and helpful, I’ll tip a few bucks. If the driver is only helpful, I’ll tip a couple of bucks. If the driver is a blob – I’ll tip nothing.

  9. Evelio Astray-Caneda III

    I’m in airport shuttles every week. No matter if they’re gruff or really nice, I tip at least $1 per bag if they touch it. If they don’t handle my bags I don’t tip unless there’s some reason to.

    If I don’t have five or ones, I’ll usually tell them it slipped my mind and get my bag myself. But I avoid that whenever possible because, at least in some of the areas of the southern US where I travel, I think that tip is part of what they expect.

  10. I try not to tip outside the USA unless the driver goes above and beyond like helping an elderly in my party, or rushing to get me a luggage cart to the curbside. When in the US, it’s generally $1 for every piece of luggage they help. If I can dart out of the van quick enough, I don’t tip.

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