Tips on tipping: How to tip well and when it's right to do so

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tipping is expected at places like restaurants and nail salons, but what about on a flight? If you thought airplanes were a tip-free zone, you might want to grab some singles before boarding. Reports say budget carrier Frontier Airlines is now giving passengers the option to tip flight attendants for serving refreshments. Have we finally reached a tipping point? Consumer Reports takes a closer look, with tips on tipping.

From the teenager who made your sandwich at the deli to your local coffee shop barista, more and more service providers might expect something a little extra, but does that mean you must pay up?

"Tipping can be imposing," said one person.

Another added, "Coming into the coffee shop just to get your daily coffee, sometimes you feel obliged to tip."

And a third said, "If the service is good they deserve their tips."

In a recent Consumer Reports survey of more than 1,000 American adults, 27 percent said there are more situations today where they're expected to tip than there were just two years ago.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly resentful about the idea that they have to tip people just for doing their jobs," Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman said. "Like really? I have to tip a smoothie maker? Or what about the barista at the coffee shop who swivels a little point of sale iPad in your direction with a precalculated tip."

As for how much to tip, Consumer Reports has some guidelines.

"A simple rule of thumb is to tip 15 to 20 percent of the pretax restaurant tab," Gilman said. "Don't tip less than 15 percent. If the server was rude or offensive, speak to the manager but don't stiff the server."

Another finding from Consumer Reports' survey on tipping, 46 percent of Americans say they favor a system that would do away with tipping altogether and instead charge higher prices. It is a remedy promoted by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack.

But, how do consumers feel about paying higher prices in exchange of not having to tip?

"I think that if tips were included on the check like they do in many other countries, it would be easier," said one person.

Another remarked, "I would not be willing to pay higher prices if tipping was included in the service."

While a third said, "I do like when the tip is included. It's kind of like a no-hassle deal."

If you're looking for some tools to help, apps such as Tab, Settle Up, and Plates let you split tabs or keep track of who owes what. To see Consumer Reports' complete list of recommended service providers to tip and the amount, go here.

Take a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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