person speaking in bed with caption 'What happens when you give your flight attendants Starbucks gift cards' (l) Starbucks $15 gift cards on hook (c) person speaking in bed pointing left (r)

AFM Visuals/Shutterstock @x_travels/TikTok (Licensed)

‘I think it was worth the gift cards’: Airline passenger uses hack to get an entire row to himself on the plane

‘I’ll definitely give you whatever I can when you bring us kind gifts.’


Braden Bjella


At a time when air travel is getting more expensive, seats are getting smaller, and extras like checked bags are getting pricier, travelers are looking for any way they can score some extras on their flights.

Multiple users have gone viral after offering their suggestions on how to improve the flight experience. For example, earlier this year, TikTok user @mr_selling915 suggested buying small Starbucks gift cards for flight attendants, a move he argued may result in preferential treatment.

Now, another user has tried out @mr_selling915’s theory—and found considerable success.

In a video with over 2.8 million views, TikTok user Jeremy Maclellan (@x_travels) claims he bought $130 worth of Starbucks gift cards for the flight attendants on a flight from New York to Abu Dhabi. Owing to this, he says he was given an exit row all to himself and better treatment throughout the flight.

@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

“I think it was worth the gift cards,” he says in the video. “This is just a life lesson. Be kind to people. Show appreciation…Just be nice to people. It goes a long way.”

In the comment section, many flight attendants spoke about the veracity of Jeremy’s claim.

“I’m a flight attendant and I’ll definitely give you whatever I can when you bring us kind gifts,” wrote one user.

“As a [flight attendant] if you bring SB gift cards most will do ANYTHING to make your flight great,” added another. “We need the $5 coffee more than you know. I promise.”

“Once a very sweet passenger embarked with Pizza for us. He got treated like a king for the whole flight,” claimed a third. “small gesture big effect.”

This ‘hack’ has been publicized outside of TikTok for some time. For example, the Daily Express reported on the idea in 2020, writing, “They revealed that cabin crew love to be given Starbucks gift cards. This is because they can be cashed in at the famous coffee shops at most airports. Furthermore, a caffeine fix can be just what they crave for morning flights or during a layover.”

Back on TikTok, others shared their success stories performing similar acts.

“I did this and got upgraded to first class from heathrow to Canada 10/10 would recommend,” recalled a commenter. “I actually just bought them a tin of Celebrations Chocolate from heathrow, wasn’t expecting anything!”

“I gave a lolly to a hostess that I got free from the airline lounge and received free beers for the duration of the flight,” stated a second.

“I gave Godiva chocolate bars on my flight. They were extra nice to me and I got a couple of cocktails,” recounted an additional TikToker.

As far as Jeremy is concerned, he told Daily Dot that he would “absolutely” do it again “on a long enough flight.”

“I believe when I checked to reserve an exit row seat would’ve been $90, but no guarantee I would’ve had to the row to myself,” he wrote. “Regardless of upgrade or not, the biggest note is that the smallest gesture of kindness can go a long way. Even if they couldn’t have done anything, it was still nice to see I put a smile on their faces.”

“Many people in the comments said they often give chocolates and candy to the flight attendants and they’re always appreciative,” he detailed.

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