Photo: Yaroslav Astakhov/Shutterstock

Does the Starbucks Gift Card Travel Hack Really Work?

by Matador Creators Apr 7, 2023

It’s one of the most prevalent airplane hacks. Give the flight attendants a gift card, candy bar, or some other small token of appreciation, and they’ll treat you like royalty for the rest of the flight. But is it actually a genius hack, or just a transparent bid for special treatment that won’t actually get you anywhere?

X_travels put it to the test. He purchased a bunch of Starbucks gift cards to give his flight attendants on a long-haul international flight, in the hopes of securing better seats. In this TikTok video, he documented how it worked out.

@x_travels Gave my flight attendants $130 to starbucks and i think it was worth it. #travel #travelhack #flying #airlines #airport #appreciation ♬ original sound – Xtravels

To test the travel hack, he chose a 12.5-hour flight from New York to Abu Dhabi.

“I looked up online and there was still a business class seat available on this flight, and it was $12,000. I didn’t wanna pay that. So I went and got eight $15 Starbucks gift cards, and I got on the plane, gave them to the flight attendants.”

Clearly, he was hoping his generous gesture would secure him a coveted business class seat. At first, however, the flight attendants seemed a little skeptical.

“They said ‘are you a flight attendant for another airline?’ I said, ‘no, I just thought I’d show the love, spread the appreciation, it’s a long flight and I appreciate you guys.’ And then I found my seat at the very back of the plane.”

It wasn’t long before he noticed the flight attendant supervisor walking down the aisle of the plane holding one of his gift cards.

“She pulls me into the very back of the plane,” he said, “gets an inch away from my face, and says, ‘thank you. Do you wanna take the exit seat? They moved me to the exit row, which was a completely full row all to myself with unlimited legroom.” He also notes that he woke up to a goodie bag with waters, sandwiches, and snacks.

So no, the hack didn’t result in a business class seat, but it did result in an extra legroom upgrade, which – especially on a long-haul flight – can be a true lifesaver.

“I think it was worth the $130,” he said.

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