This paper aims to review the conceptual background for service quality as applied to the airline industry and use data from the Air Travel Consumer Report to examine airline quality performance on such key indicators as on‐time arrival, customer complaints, denied boarding, and mishandled baggage to determine the trend in airline service performance over the past two decades.
Data collected for this study included customer complaints on flight problems, ticketing, refunds, fares, customer service, advertising, and other problems, overall carrier on‐time performance, involuntary denied boardings, and mishandled baggage. Total yearly departures by carrier were obtained from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and used to normalize the service data. Service quality rates were calculated for the industry overall and by individual carrier. The total quality rate represents the sum of the following data: the percentage of late flights, total number of consumer complaints, total number of involuntary denied boardings, and total number of mishandled baggage reports divided by total yearly departures for a particular airline. In a real sense, this rate is a measure of disquality and can be interpreted as the number of quality problems per departure.
The data show that during periods of retrenchment when airlines are reducing flight schedules due to economic downturns the level of on‐time arrival tends to improve while customer complaints, denied boardings, and mishandled baggage decline. Part of the explanation for the changes is the lack of airport and air traffic capacity to handle periods of higher traffic volume.
As a critical component of the transportation system, the ability of the airline industry to provide reliable, timely service is important. Understanding the factors that contribute to service problems can help guide airline decisions about process and government decisions about infrastructure needs.
Rhoades, D. and Waguespack, B. (2008), "Twenty years of service quality performance in the US airline industry", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 20-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604520810842821Download as .RIS
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