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Kauai's Na Pali Coast seen though cockpit window, pilot in foreground

Do you tip helicopter pilots in Hawaii

Its never as straight forwards tipping helicopter pilots in Hawaii as the etiquette in doing so is not made public.

If you want to tip helicopter pilots in Hawaii, standard procedure will accept tips, but its not compulsory or unusual not to. Hawaii helicopter tours can be shut or open doors, landing tours or air only - so the process can be awkward. But wait until you can talk to the pilot once you've landed to hand over a singe bill only.

Process of tipping to visitors to Hawaii or the US in general is a little daunting as its not a normal procedure in other countries.

In the world of helicopter tours that is not so as tipping a helicopter pilot is accepted, and certainly welcomed if you can afford it.

Tipping a helicopter pilot in Hawaii is a little different to elsewhere for issues around safety.

Hawaii helicopter tours operate strict boarding to exiting procedures; along with open door tours that open you up to the elements.

So will not be a safe environment to hand over cash as it can be blown out of your hand.

Safest way to tip a pilot - never before a helicopter tour - is to wait until the pilot and other guests have removed there headset so you can talk to the pilot to say your thanks.

Only then will this be a good time to hand over your tip. Its advisable to tip in bills only as notes cannot be dropped heavily on the console unlike loose change.

How much you tip depends entirely on your experience, if it was a good or bad one.

But if you want to tip then make it a 5, 10 or 20 dollar bill. You will want to tip based on the cost you paid for the tour - plus how much time you took up of the pilot.

Smaller, less busier operators will have an opening for tipping, whereas larger operators who run a busy schedule may not have an open to tip, in which case forget about it.

Passengers are FREE to tip

No doubt about it when participating in a Hawaii based helicopter tour you are not only going to enjoy it, but the experience goes above and beyond.

No thanks to the Hawaii landscape regardless of the island you depart; Kauai, Maui, Oahu and The Big Island will not disappoint.

So while the possibility of a disappointing helicopter flight in Hawaii has little doubt; feel free to tip the pilot as you see fit.

No one, not the pilot or the operator will discourage passengers tipping, so when the time arises, be sure to tip if you want.

While you're free to tip this should not be something you fee you have to do out of courtesy.

Helicopter tours are costly so the helicopter tour company will know funds are limited.

If you cannot afford a tip please do not as the pilot plus operator will do just fine without additional funds.

Obviously you should not be tipping if the experience you had was genuinely poor; bad service should never be rewarded.

Operators comments

So while its completely up to passengers too tip or not, it can be an awkward transaction if you feel its not correct.

Meaning the handing over of a cash payment randomly to the person who piloted your tour could feel inappropriate on your part.

Don't ever feel this way, helicopter pilots in Hawaii receive huge amounts of tips handed over to them on a daily basis, so it will never come as a surprise.

It will certainly come at a surprise in a much appreciated way; but never with rejection or in an ungrafeful manner.

If it makes you feel any better, a couple of Hawaii helicopter tour companies list there reply to this common question handed to them by there customers, such as...

Do I tip the helicopter pilot at your company, or (insert) Hawaii island name...

Island Helicopters in their Airbus H125 helicopter tours have this to say to all their guests who are unsure regarding their tip policy:

If your pilot gives you an exceptional tour and you feel it would be appropriate, tips are always appreciated.  However, tipping is entirely up to you and not expected - Island Helicopters

Then with Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours, the company simply quote this simple message to their guests who're unsure about their tipping procedure.

Tipping is not required but is always appreciated.
So there you have it, its not much but its proof of the pudding helicopter tour companies in Hawaii do receive this question enough, they feel the need to answer it.

Wait until safe opening

Now that you know its completely normal to tip pilots across all Hawaiian islands, its now really a case of when to tip the pilot.

It has to be said, the safety or most appropriate time to tip a pilot does not always have an opening.

Therefore, if its not possible to tip at the time its probably best to put your money away.

When is the best time is too hand over a tip is at the end of the helicopter tour; that is when you know if it was worth a tip or not.

If it was and you plan to hand over money, wait until the pilot has landed the helicopter.

Not quite, wait until you get the all clear to remove your headset, and so does the pilot so you can talk to him or her.

Once your headset is off and so is the pilots, be sure to thank the pilot before handing over the money.

Don't be forceful or stretch over the control console separating you both; simply hold the bill in the tip of your fingers so the pilot can gently pull it out.

While that tip is largely suited to front seated passengers or single co-pilots only, its little more trickier for back row seat guests.

With that, you will want to only tip after following the advice above; but make sure there is a large gap between the front and rear end of the cab to pass money through in an appropriate manner.

Cash payment in bills only

Once you found an opening to hand over the cash payment, its a matter of if its a bill or coin payment.

Let's make it abundantly clear, never hand over loose change to the pilot as it can become a nuisance or run a risk.

What I mean is dropping coins is a real concern as it will lodge in areas that cannot be reached or known about, or fall on the controls.

So when you hand over a tip, only make it a cash payment starting with a dollar bill up to a payment you're happy to tip.

Try to avoid multiple dollar bills to make up 5 or 10 dollars; only tip in a single note as to avoid the awkwardness of the pilot dealing with too much cash.

Planning to pay in coins can be stopped beforehand as you probably won't be permitted to take onboard handbags or wallets full of cash.

If that were to happen to you it will be a case of leaving your belongings behind at the offices of the operator.

So there you have it, only tip a pilot in a single bill, whether it be a 5, 10 or 20 dollar bill.

How much do I tip the pilot

Once you are absolutely sure you're going to tip the helicopter tour pilot in Hawaii - its a matter of how much to tip.

My best advice I can give is only hand over a tip that is a single bill only; so a 5, 10 or 20 dollar bill are the most appropriate options.

What I've outlined above is that single bills only are safer, less awkward and easier for you to keep in your pocket without issues.

So with that in mind, I would suggest you tip helicopter pilots in Hawaii a 5, 10 or 20, if you can afford it.

To be sure, I would only tip 10 dollars as standard with 20 dollars if the experience was exceptional - such as an exhilarating, open cockpit Hawaii open door helicopter tour experience in Kauai, Maui, The Big Island or Oahu.

However, the lowest tip of 5 dollars is not unusual or cheap on anyone's part, its a normal tip that is align with many passengers.

How much you tip can be low as 5 dollars if the helicopter tour was a cheap one itself, along with a short flight duration.

If it was an extended helicopter tour - say up to one hour - then perhaps the price you paid for the tour can be matched, in regards to percentage, with a generous tip - but its up to you.

No standard procedure with tipping in Hawaii so whether you tip 5 dollars or 20; it can and will only be much welcomed by the pilot.


Passengers who really enjoyed there helicopter tour across any island in Hawaii are free to tip as much or little as they like.

No standard procedure in Hawaii in terms of etiquette for how much to tip pilots, but know when you do tip - the pilot keeps it all.

Its up to guests who feel the need to tip to make up there own minds. Comments made by a number of operators welcome tips if you want too.

Its only a case of finding an opening to tip the pilot as to not cause a distraction or talk when the pilot is preoccupied, so here's what you do...

Wait until you've landing back at the base and you've been given the all clear to remove headsets.

Then, wait as the pilot turns off the engine - has removed his/her own headset - so you can speak to the pilot to say thanks.

As a rule, once you can thank the pilot well sitting still inside the chopper, that would be the time to hand over a tip.

Cash payment should be in bills only as loose change is awkward for the pilot to handle - with no where to put it - plus it can drop and land on the console.

How much you tip therefore must be in a single bill as to avoid these kinds of issues.

I would recommend you tip a helicopter tour pilot in Hawaii 5, 10 or 20 dollars. How much is up to you but the tip usually increases with the tour duration.

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