Tipping at Qantas LAX First lounge? Hot Topic

By ausJCP | Jan 05, 2017, 04:59 PM
Tipping a staff member at the lounge... Yay, or nay?

My automatic thought: No.

I've certainly left a piece of feedback to corporate where exceptional lounge service warrants... But I just observed a gentleman tip the server some cash here in LAX!

Of course, American culture typically dictates that tipping is compulsory; and this staff member is behaving particularly in a manner one would expect of a server fishing for tips.

So, as a curious question of interest to the AusBT community:

Would you ever reach for your wallet at a lounge?
Poll: Would you tip a staff member at an airline lounge?
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By David | Jan 05, 2017, 05:04 PM
We've heard a lot of reports of this with regards to the Qantas lounges at LAX, although in all US airport lounges tipping at the bar (dropping a dollar into the jar) is pretty standard -- at least, for Yanks.

I'd not do this at the Qantas lounge of any lounge, however, as I'm led to believe that the staff there are on a (relatively) generous hourly rate so tipping isn't really needed.
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By TheRealBabushka | Jan 06, 2017, 12:48 AM
It's interesting isn't it? 
Are you on American soil or Australian territory in the QF LAX lounge? Because Qantas has marketed itself, not just as an airline from Australia, but Australia personified, does it naturally extend that QF lounges are part of that, and with it Australian working conditions for employees? 
Which customs and habits should apply?
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By markpk | Jan 06, 2017, 06:23 AM
It is tricky...I frequent the AA, American Express Centurion, and Qantas lounges and only leave a small tip at the Centurion Lounge at the end of my stay (usually to get rid of left over USD 1's!). 

I agree with David, I believe the lounge staff are paid above the norm - something that is reflected in their service levels - so I don't feel the need to tip...Having arrived here this morning (5/1) to find no gas, so no omelette I'm even less inclined to tip.
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By ChrisCh | Jan 06, 2017, 01:29 PM
I've had some great service at the Qantas LAX First Lounge, so I'll often give a small tip as a thank you gesture (eg. US$10) when staff go over and above as a small reward. The staff have never requested it, and I don't feel 'obligated' to give one just because it's the US, but it's always gratefully received.

In some other international lounges (such as in Australia and Asia) where the staff go above and beyond in one way or another, I'll sometimes give the lounge host a large-ish box of chocolates on my way out for the staff to share at break time, rather than a cash tip.

In other US lounges (eg. AA, Delta, United, Centurion), I'll usually tip US$1 per drink for something simple like a glass of wine or a spirit, or US$2 per drink for something more complicated like a cocktail, and if I order food from Delta's restaurant menu, I'll tip the waiter 15-20% of the bill based on the service, adding US$1 for every alcoholic drink they bring me that was otherwise 'free'. 
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By crosscourt | Jan 06, 2017, 03:00 PM
Seriously, for goodness sake. Lets not cheapen things with lounge tipping. How embarrassing!              
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By GigiPk | Jan 06, 2017, 05:24 PM
The cost of Air travel when flying particularly from Australia is quite enough in particular Business Class, I thought the QF Lounge or indeed any other Lounge was complimentary for using & paying for their services. Qantas pays personnel more at LAX so employees should benefit from the norms of Australians, tip only in exceptional circumstances not for expected Customer Service.    
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By MEL Traveller | Jan 07, 2017, 08:36 AM
Where does this information come from that Qantas pays staff more than other lounges in LAX? As much as we hate the American tipping culture, you are in the US so I would think that US practice applies. On the same basis, I doubt you'd tip the staff at a United lounge in Australia. 
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By kimshep | Jan 07, 2017, 09:33 AM

A few points to consider, if I may.

Back in the early days of the opening of the QF SYD First lounge I recall reading that QF contracted much of the staff service operations to Sofitel. With the deeper integration of the Neil Perry group (food preparation, supply and sommelier wine selection) at QF, it seems that a very large part of this operation is now outsourced almost completely in Australia.

Surely, it would be interesting to know how the LAX First lounge operates ie. is it on the same outsource basis? Under these circumstances, it would be difficult for guests to know how well / badly these staff may be paid.

I believe that a combination of David's and Chris' approach is somewhat warranted, in principle. In other words - yes, a $1 tip per drink is probably appropriate in the US lounge(s) - LAX & HNL being QF lounges, and DFW & JFK being 'shared' or contracted lounges - given the US tipping culture. But in Australian / NZ lounges, no. A small gift of chocolate for 'above and beyond' service may be appropriate.

There is much to also recommend the overall argument that lounge access is a perk of higher tiered FF loyalty provided by the carrier - and that to refuse such an offer could be seen as ingracious. Frankly, we don't need to encourage the US tipping culture in Australia at all. Although, if you're routinely stopping by 3 separate lounges before your flight, that could be seen as abusing the privilege IMHO - unless you're actively writing a review for AUSBT, of course!

Last edited by kimshep at Jan 07, 2017, 09.58 AM.
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By markpk | Jan 07, 2017, 12:41 PM

Back in the early days of the opening of the QF SYD First lounge I recall reading that QF contracted much of the staff service operations to Sofitel. 

Last edited by kimshep at Jan 07, 2017, 09.58 AM.

The Sydney F lounge is a Sofitel managed lounge - as has been reported here on AusBT from memory. Not sure about MEL but given Sofitel (aka Accor) has a Sofitel in both cities that may also be the case. 
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By PuriPuriMan | Jan 07, 2017, 08:27 PM
Albeit not LAX, but my recent sojourn in the "new, enhanced-for-members-and-travellers" HKG Sofitel-understaffed QF Lounge was underwhelming, to be flattering!  Considering the cost of Business Clas tickets, and the reduction in service/quality, particularly BNE's cafeteria (!!), I fear that the 'Contracting Laws' axiom was applied with a vengeance as to how the Lounge would be operated; and 'bedding-in a new facility' doesn't cut it as a reason for mediocrity.  Tipping?  Tell'em they're joking!  And, Oh Yeah, QF chose to not respond to my 'valued input' via their customer satisfaction ... coff, coff ... survey, when I appraised them of my perceptions.
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By David | Jan 08, 2017, 11:14 AM

Surely, it would be interesting to know how the LAX First lounge operates ie. is it on the same outsource basis? Under these circumstances, it would be difficult for guests to know how well / badly these staff may be paid.Last edited by kimshep at Jan 07, 2017, 09.58 AM.

Yes, it's Sofitel-managed, and as per previous notes we understand the pay scale for QF LAX lounge staff is well above the norm for other LAX lounges.
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By kerrynr | Jan 10, 2017, 11:18 PM
You're in the US so tipping is the norm here! These guys get paid the American way - if they're lucky, it might be a tad more than what they usually receive because so many Aussies wouldn't tip them. I'm an Aussie and I tip US$20 at the counter for a light meal and a few champagnes. The staff tend to leave it on display for others to get the hint. The tip is always appreciated.
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By juicedpixels | Jan 17, 2017, 04:13 PM
I leave a few dollars tip for the people who tend to the showers in the LAX business lounge. They provide me with great service including toothbrushes and razors so why not tip?
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By livejon | Jan 20, 2017, 09:43 AM
When in Rome...
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By antkleve | Jan 26, 2017, 03:30 PM
I'm a regular in the qantas first lounge at lax. I've gotten to know quite a few of the staff, and the service that I get from them, as well as the great conversation is second to none, even to the point that they remember what drink I like to order. I always slip $10 their way when I leave.
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