The skycap is the descendant of the redcap, a railway Porter. Redcaps were named for their distinctive red hats, which helped them stand out from a crowd so that railway passengers could easily identify them. When commercial airlines became viable, many airlines provided skycap service because people were accustomed to getting assistance from railway porters, and the term “skycap” was coined to describe porters who worked in airports.
Skycaps often wait near the curb, so that they can meet passengers as they arrive with especially heavy luggage. Most skycaps have access to luggage carts for moving luggage around, and they may also assist with wheelchairs, strollers, and oversized items. Most skycaps also perform curbside check-ins for flights, allowing passengers to skip the lines at the airline's counter, help unload luggage from cars and taxis, and they also answer questions from passengers and family members.
By tradition, skycaps are tipped for their services. Generally tips are offered per piece of luggage; in the United States, tips of $1-2 US per bag are common, with higher tips being offered for extra services such as checking overweight bags or getting passengers in front of long lines. Skycaps are found at major or international airports in Canada. Rates average at $10 flat rate for 3 pieces of baggage and $2 per additional items.