Aviation Customers and Quality Service Delivery

Researchers have acclaimed the airline industry for its constant struggle of cutting expenses, overseeing inconsistent demand, and sustaining quality prerequisites while attempting to improve its services and fulfill the customer’s needs. Consumer satisfaction has been low, and the Customer Satisfaction Index scores the least among 50 different enterprises (Haghighat, 2017). Nevertheless, the demand for air transport has been steady and regardless of the financial emergency and the terrorist act of September 11 in the US (Haghighat, 2017). In these struggling times, airlines are compelled to shift their concentration towards service quality (Jamkatelsh, 2018). Airline management must comprehend the perception of travelers and the services they require (Jamkatelsh, 2018).

Quality services are created by a combination of intangibles, which include market performance and employee capability (Mahphoth, Koe, Krishnan, Ghani, & Ismail, 2018). Service quality is vital to maintain existing and new clients (Jamkatelsh, 2018; Haghighat, 2017). Quality service has become a marketing prerequisite among airline operators because of its weight in modifying an individual’s buying behavior (Mahphoth et al., 2018). Customers assess an airline’s service quality based on experience and global standards (Mahphoth et al., 2018). Therefore, it is important to test the impact of an airline’s service quality using the traveler satisfaction index. Customer service is an area of interest to individuals, organizations, the government, regulatory institutions, and airline operators. Each of these departments is updating its operations under global best practices. As a result, researchers have been struggling to define the appropriate scale for quality service delivery. The significance of service quality in any organization cannot be questioned. The trend in political, monetary, and innovative changes influencing the industry has made service quality a concern for airline management and travelers (Mahphoth et al., 2018).

Because of the deregulation of the industry, the quantity of flight is expanding, air terminals are opening, tickets are progressively reasonable and airline traffic are developing. However, researchers and customers contend that services offered to travelers show zero improvements (Mahphoth et al., 2018). Researchers emphasized that although rivalry is expanding because the industry is strong, energetic, sharp, and viciously aggressive, customer service quality is poor (Khanh, 2017). A noteworthy component of this aggressive weight is service management and quality control. Quality service is a productive task since it draws new clients, sustains existing customers, and controls price differentiation. An efficient service delivery lowers marketing costs because the additional operational expense for adverts will not be required. Travelers’ desires concerning the quality of service they get are expanding, and airlines are trying to meet these needs. This implies that airline executives must understand how passengers measure service quality.

Researchers are also trying to redefine their corporate methods because of the rising challenge of service quality and its operating costs. One consequence of the struggle is the acknowledgment that local merchandise and enterprises are abysmal in the world benchmark. Another explanation behind this challenge is that airline service quality is a joint operation of the manager and the government (Khanh, 2017). Sadly, since the passenger transacts business with the airline management, the ills of the system are transferred to them despite the manager’s earnest attempts and expectations to adopt the global best practices. The primary issue is that there is no accord between the client and supplier on quality service delivery in the airline business. This examination investigates the problem from the customer’s perspective.

Problem Statement

Service quality is a business goal for the airline industry in competing and engraving their picture in the psyches of travelers. Many airlines have enforced service quality through package personalization, which incorporates ground and in-flight activities, particularly from the perspective of maintaining travelers and gaining new ones (Khanh, 2017). Other than these practices, in-flight dinners, and food service is another strategy that encourages consumer buying behavior. In-flight meals and nourishment services are viewed as a significant aspect of marketing techniques for business or tourist explorers.

Consumer satisfaction is one of the best research variables for airlines in the competitive market, and the flight experience is an indicator for analysis. If the traveler is not happy with the quality of service, it will affect the purchasing choice for a future flight (Chen & Liu, 2017). The literature on service quality and passenger experience has been evolving because the conveyance of service quality is fundamental for business survival (Chen & Liu, 2017). This investigation seeks to understand the customer’s view on the quality of service offered by Air New Zealand. The study will assess the services provided by the airline based on the perception of young, old, male, and female passengers.

Research Question

The study intends to answer three research questions on service quality. The research questions will focus on in-flight services. The questionaries’ will be used to collect the demographic characteristics of the population. Participants will provide details such as age, gender, occupation, and travel frequency. Consequently, the participants will answer questions on the quality of the meal, quantity of meal, menu selection, security consciousness, transit facilities, compliant system, services for children, cross-cultural awareness, and seat width.

  1. What is the perception of service quality between old and young passengers?
  2. What is the perception of service quality among male and female travelers?
  3. What are the passengers’ experiences with long flights?

Aim of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to assess how Air New Zealand passengers are satisfied with service delivery during long flights. This paper will summarise the specific aim of the research below.

  1. Determine the perception of flight experience between young and old passengers.
  2. Determine the opinion of male and female travelers.
  3. Test the passenger’s experience with the long flight.

Literature Review

The Airline Industry

The aviation industry is an important sector in the economic growth of a country (Rahim, 2016). It assumes an indispensable role in moving individuals or goods from one location to another. The development of a sufficient quality service system is an indicator of business growth. Since the transporting business has become challenging with trends and capabilities, airline operators concentrate on service quality to enhance satisfaction (Rahim, 2016). Thus, conveying quality airline services is vital for its survival because travelers are progressively sensitive to performance.

Meaning of Service Quality

This paper characterizes service quality as a buyer’s impression of the proficiency of the airline and its services (Rahim, 2016). It is the chain of an event where the whole service conveyance is separated into a progression of procedures (Rahim, 2016). Most definitions of service excellence rely on the situation that addresses the clients’ need. Service quality includes interactions between the clients and airlines workers that try to impact customers’ perceptions and the operator’s image (Hussain, Al Nasser, & Hussain, 2015). Although price differentiation attracts passengers, airline operators are evaluating service experience and quality to gain a market advantage based on service differentiation since rival carriers are effective in reacting to value changes (Hussain et al., 2015). Thus, an airline’s competitive advantage can be measured by the customer’s perception of its performance.

Jahmani (2017) characterized satisfaction as an individual sentiment of joy or disillusionment after evaluating an item’s clear presentation with his or her expectation. Mohamad, Yazid, Khatibi, and Azam (2017) characterized quality as a customer mentality towards a service supplier or a passionate response to the contrast of what clients envision and received. Hence, it is critical to satisfying air passengers since they are informed, acquainted with innovative trends, knowledgeable, and demanding in their needs.

Pre-flight Service Quality

Quality of service is significant in guaranteeing a positive consumer experience because the recurrence of awful service delivery will affect a client’s perception of the organization (Mohamad et al., 2017). For instance, if clients get discourteous services, they will be disappointed with the performance and may choose another enterprise. It has been reported that pre-flight services such as baggage handling, concession offers, and convenient flight schedule influences the passenger experience and satisfaction (Mohamad et al., 2017).

In-flight Service Quality

Hapsari, Clemes, and Dean (2017) suggested that in-flight services influenced passenger experience. To build up decent client service, the in-flight stewards should put accentuation on unmistakable signs to create a solid hierarchical image. It has been suggested that in-flight services such as health percussions, comfort, quality nourishment, and in-flight amusement and language abilities of stewards influence passenger experience (Hapsari et al., 2017).

Post-flight Service Quality

Post-flight services such as fast luggage delivery and recovery are the significant variables that affect the management’s relationships with clients. Therefore, to sustain their performance, airlines must be globally focused and improve their activities (Hapsari et al., 2017).

Passenger Segmentation

With a challenge originating from price differentiation, it is significant for the airlines to know their client’s inclinations and in this way focus on the marketing strategy. Rahim (2016) expressed that serving the wrong consumers might be costly, particularly when they do not convey any benefit to the organization. For example, when the SAS organization experienced a total change, it ended its services with tourists, focusing its operations on business clients. The organization became productive two years after the change regime.

Quality involving operational measurements and service employees is an important trait for accomplishing an airline’s competitive edge through differentiation (Rahim, 2016; Hapsari et al., 2017). Khanh (2017) proposed that the essential service measurements are airline routine and operational expense, while the secondary measures include security, comfort, in-flight conveniences, disposition of the ground and flight group, financial strength, on-time execution, and baggage conveyance. This is predictable from the reviews on service quality and passenger experience. The reviewers recommended ten factors that drive airline satisfaction, which include on-time execution, air terminal registration, flight facilities, seating arrangement, solace, seat space, airline interior design, post-flight services, nourishment service, and customer programs (Khanh, 2017).

Haghighat (2017) affirmed that the significance of the airline’s service characteristics could segment airline travelers. The researchers identified five components, which include value seekers, quality explorers, comfort-oriented clients, time-oriented passengers, and individual specifics. Airline managers package their service based on the first class, business travelers, and economy seats. Business travelers have extraordinary necessities and prerequisites, and they have esteemed more than economy class travelers (Hapsari et al., 2017). Thus, customer segmentation is important to the airline business, and surveys suggest that long-standing customers have higher service quality desires, which depend on the flight experience (Hapsari et al., 2017).

Service Quality and Satisfaction

There could be contradictions regarding the link between service quality and customer experience. In simple terms, service quality is a combination of events offered to a client, while customer experience expresses the individual in accepting the service (Joudeh & Dandis, 2018). Therefore, the variables of quality and service are significantly related. Researchers find it difficult to find out if the consumer experience is a product of service quality or vice versa. As indicated by Joudeh and Dandis (2018) the assessment of service practice is influenced by the passenger’s perception of the service offered.

Service Quality Dimensions

Physical Assets

This paper classifies physical offices, communication tools, and employees as tangible assets. For pre-flight services, the variables include office space, environmental condition and quality of hardware, the appearance of the airline team, and communication infrastructures.

Dependability

This paper classifies reliable service, operational directions, quality announcements, and in-flight communication as dependability measurements. A consistent service implies that a similar service is a developing pattern. An effective operational practice means that service delivery is assured and guaranteed.

Responsiveness

A responsive measurement can be used to test the efficiency of service delivery. Customer feedback directly influences an individual’s perception and experience (Joudeh & Dandis, 2018).

Assurance

Assurance measurement has qualities like a dependable team, learning to reply to questions and the courtesy with which the team reacts to travelers.

Compassion

The properties within this dimension include customized consideration, best practices, and passenger needs assessment. The services offered indicate the commitment to the customer’s welfare. According to Joudeh and Dandis (2018), customized consideration evokes courteousness, which is a significant characteristic of this measurement.

Quality Management in the Service Industry

Quality administration in the service enterprise has been evolving. Although much has been explored about quality in the assembling and manufacturing industry, the emphasis on excellence in service enterprises is more recent. Passengers are critical of service delivery, and business managers cannot marginalize the pressure from customers. A recent survey on service quality revealed that long-term relationships with customers stimulated a market-driven approach to quality administration (Gong & Yi, 2018). The ability to be creative in service marketing allows managers to see the quality from a client’s view because the passenger is the target market.

Research Methodology

Conceptual framework.
Figure 1. Conceptual framework (Author).

As found in figure 1, the variables used for this investigation include flight meal, seat comfort, seat space, neck pillow, responsive stewards, and professionalism.

The Study Area

The study assessed passengers’ perceptions of service delivery. The author interviewed customers that used Air New Zealand. The study considers the number of passengers for the research input. As a result, the researcher selected Air New Zealand based on the number of customers that use their services. The purposeful and multi-stage sampling methods were used to provide unbiased results.

Study Population

The purposeful sampling method considers the number of the sample distribution. Due to cost limitations, 50 participants will be used for the analysis. The selected participants will be based on the inclusion criteria. Therefore, questionnaires will be administered to individuals that flew with Air New Zealand. The author interviewed 50 people that flew with Air New Zealand.

Sampling Technique

Purposeful sampling can be utilized as a distinguishing proof and determinant of information-driven cases (Ali & Bhaskar, 2016). The primary objective of purposive testing is to concentrate on variables that help the researcher answer the study questions. The intention is to enhance acceptability and not to encourage representativeness. In straightforward terms, multi-stage sampling categorizes large clusters of the distribution into smaller groups make information accumulation manageable (Blanca, Alarcón, & Bono, 2018).

Methods of Data Collection

The sample responses were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Since the author will collect responses after the flight, the questionnaire design is the best option for data collection. The inclusion criterion was based on the research design. The questionnaire was divided into personal bio-data and service sections.

Reliability and Validity

Reliability and validity have unique implications in subjective and quantitative research (Bolarinwa, 2015; Taherdoost, 2016; Heale & Twycross, 2015). Bolarinwa (2015) noted that qualitative research depends on such tools as a semi-structured interview to accomplish reliability and validity. Patterson et al., (2018) emphasized that executing and maintaining the reliability and validity of research is significant to guarantee an accurate result. Based on this premise, members of the sampled population will be acquainted with the aim of the study, and their responses will be confidential and use solely for the research. As a result, individual predisposition and conclusions will not influence the translation and assessment of the examination by asking similar open-ended questions.

Data Analysis

The semi-structured questionnaires were used for the qualitative multi-stage investigation. To evaluate the perception of male and female respondents on service quality, the survey analyzed data from the research questions. The study also gathered information through other secondary sources. Data collected was coded to analyze the mean and frequency of responses. The study used the t-test (ANOVA) to interpret the research findings. Information purifying, which includes removing immaterial data that do not fit with the inquiry criteria was conducted (Apuke, 2017). The t-test was used to test the overall mean ratings of the analysis.

Structure of the Questionnaire

The research questions focused on in-flight services. The first section displayed the demographic characteristics of the sampled population. Participants provided details such as age, gender, occupation, and travel frequency. Onboard services include meal quality and quantity, menu selection, security consciousness, transit facilities, compliant system, services for children, cross-cultural awareness, courtesy towards travelers, and seat width.

Discussion of Results

Table 1: Frequency distribution of respondents.

Variable Groupings Options Respondents Percentage
Demographic characteristics Sex 1 Male
2 Female
41
9
82%
18%
Education status 1 High school
2 College education
3 University education
4 Professional cert.
15
23
9
3
30%
46%
18%
6%
Age 1 18-35
2 35-54
3 55 and above
15
33
2
30%
66%
4%
Number of flights 1 1-10
2 11-20
3 21-30
4 31 and above
47
3

94%
6%

Class of flight 1 First class
2 Business class
3 Economy class
1
3
46
2%
6%
92%

Table 1 displays the frequency and percentage of the distribution. The frequency distribution of the class of flights revealed that 92% of the population flew the economy class, while 3% flew the business class. The number of male respondents was 41 while female respondents were 9. The outcome demonstrated that the type of flight affected the dimension of satisfaction. For example, passengers who flew first class had better treatment than those who flew the economy class. By implication, the flight rate of respondents did not affect the quality of service delivery. The option of bigger seats, quality meals, beverages, private parlors, and better stimulation contributions was given to passengers who flew first-class flights. The research findings were consistent with previous reports that airline operators disappoint passengers with the quality of service delivery (Hapsari et al., 2017; Althaqaf, Bashammakh, Albarmawi, Khan, & Qazi, 2019). While the dimension of satisfaction for regular customers was lower than those of periodic flyers, the satisfaction index of frequent flyers is attached to onboard services such as legroom, meals, and seat width was higher than occasional travelers. There was a noticeable difference in the responses based on sexual orientation. The results revealed that female travelers were easily offended by poor service delivery.

Hapsari et al., (2017) suggested that in-flight services influenced passenger experience. To build up decent client service, the in-flight stewards should put accentuation on unmistakable signs to create a solid hierarchical image. Consequently, it was proposed that in-flight services such as health percussions, comfort, quality nourishment, and in-flight amusement and language abilities of stewards influence passenger experience (Hapsari et al., 2017).

Perception of Male and Female Respondents

The coefficient for the sex variable was 203361.7. The analysis revealed that female responders had a higher inclination to perceive poor service delivery. The coefficient for the male response was not significant. The mean rating for the class of flight significantly affected the quality of service delivery. Individuals who used first-class flights had better treatment. The regression analysis can be used to test the difference in mean ratings for male and female passengers.

Perception of Young and Old Passengers

The frequency distribution revealed that 66 percent of the respondents were between the ages of 35 and 54. The coefficient of the age variable was 0.8335934. From the analysis, there is no significant difference between the perception of young and old passengers.

In general, travelers anticipate reliable and essential service delivery; however, long flight passengers are in a superior position to experience the comfort or disappointment of the service strategy. An infrequent passenger may consider the ill-treatment as coincidental, while a regular customer can measure the rate of dissatisfaction based on his or her experience. While the airline can endeavor to control the service delivery, this may not be enough to satisfy some passengers. The research findings conclude that service satisfaction varies by social class, income, gender, and personal attributes. The inability to accomplish a practical service framework may put significant accentuation on compassion and individualized consideration to the traveler’s need. It is important to add that employee training and association influence service quality. Thus, passenger experience affects consumer loyalty. Therefore, airlines must concentrate on employing qualified personnel who have direct access to passengers.

Corporate best practices should be enforced to enhance employee performance and by augmentation, improve the quality of service delivery (Soleimani & Einolahzadeh, 2018). In the quest for profit maximization, most operators do not conduct staff training or give incentives and assurance to their employees. The growth and training of workers will stimulate productivity, performance, and competitive advantage. Because of this training, flight attendants will deliver quality service to meet the customer’s need.

Limitations of the Research

This paper considers some factors as constraints for this study.

  1. Analysts can probe the certainty of these recommendations because the researcher studied only one airline (Air New Zealand). Although the survey participants would have no reason to provide vague answers, it is possible that the examination of more airlines would have yielded different observational outcomes. The investigation of more airlines would have presented various logical limitations of the results.
  2. The utilization of a field setting permits the misrepresentation of the outcome because of unessential factors that confound the information.
  3. Because of the ethical restriction on conducting this research, individuals who took part in this examination might not have a reasonable comprehension of what they need based on service quality.
  4. The sampled population might not have given the inquiries adequate time. Thus, they may have reacted differently, and this could influence the result of the investigation.
  5. The perceptions of respondents towards a particular airline might reflect on the significance of the investigation. For instance, if a traveler was abused, he or she might be increasingly adept at arguing the need for that specific variable while assessing different services.
  6. The length of the survey sheet may have affected the reactions, particularly in the last areas of the questionnaire.
  7. Because of the reasons identified with decreasing the numbers of inquirers, some questions were erased, particularly those used to test customer satisfaction. This may influence the validity of this exploration.

Conclusion

Air transportation has become a growing industry in terms of cost and profit. Therefore, the need for quality service delivery cannot be overemphasized. Airline operators must encourage satisfaction by improving the travelers’ flight experience. While airline operators have separated services based on the traveler’s financial capability, it is vital to have a standardized benchmark of service delivery. Although service separation enhances the firm’s competitive advantage, consumer experience builds the probability of service sustainability (Huang, Lee, & Chen, 2017). Consumer satisfaction is one of the best research variables for airlines in the competitive market, and the flight experience is an indicator for analysis. The development of an effective quality service system is an indicator of business growth. Service quality is the buyer’s impression of the proficiency of the airline and its services.

Most airlines experience the ill effects of a business culture where the operating cost are prioritized other than enforcing quality service delivery that drives the consumer experience (Huang et al., 2017). How airline operators promote air travel services creates issues because the promotions neglect to show a practical perspective of in-flight performance. This challenge creates a disparity between travelers’ assumptions about airline quality and their experience. Service quality is a focus for airline organizations in competing and engraving their picture in the psyches of travelers. Many airlines have enforced service quality through package personalization, which incorporates ground and in-flight activities, particularly from the perspective of maintaining travelers and gaining new ones. Other than those practices, in-flight dinners, and food service is another significant part of the airline task. The in-flight nourishment services are viewed as a major aspect of marketing strategy for business or tourist explorers. Traveller’s satisfaction is one of the best resources for airline organizations in the present competitive market, and the long flight experience is something extraordinary for the client.

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Appendix 1

Questionnaire

Introduction

Air New Zealand is conducting this study to evaluate the perception of customers on the quality of service delivery. As part of our corporate marketing strategy, we are assessing and upgrading our customer service operations. As a result, we request that you fill and submit the questionnaire based on your preferred options. Your response will be used to assess the level of service delivery and the best way to serve you. This study is aimed at evaluating the perception of customers on quality service delivery. The information requested through this instrument is purely for academic purposes. The response will contribute to the success of this study. Kindly spare some time to complete the questionnaire.

I would like to thank you for your valuable time and response.

Yours Sincerely,

Management

Survey Instructions

The survey consists of two sections, which include personal data and service questions. In the personal data section, you are to fill as appropriate. The airline service section requires you to choose the proper option based on the service you received.

Please select the option that describes your answer

Characteristics of the respondent

  1. Age
    1. 18-34
    2. 35-54
    3. 55 and above
  2. Gender
    1. Male
    2. Female
  3. Highest Level of Education
    1. High School
    2. College School
    3. University
    4. Professional Certification
  4. How many flights have you taken with Air New Zealand?
    1. 1-10
    2. 11-20
    3. 21-30
    4. 30 and above
  5. What class of flight did you buy?
    1. First class
    2. Business class
    3. Economy class

In-flight Services

Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements

  • SA = Strongly Agree
  • A = Agree
  • DA = Disagree
  • SDA = Strongly Disagree
  • I = Indifferent
6. The flight attendants are courteous and responsive SA A D SDA I
7. The attendants provide quick response SA A D SDA I
8. The stewards and attendants can speak different languages. SA A D SDA I
9. The attendants can interact in a multi-cultural setting SA A D SDA I
10. Air New Zealand offers a quality meal SA A D DA I
11. Air New Zealand provides sufficient drinks and nourishment SA A D SDA I
12. Air New Zealand provides an adequate meal selection menu. SA A D SDA I
13. The seats are spacious and comfortable SA A D SDA I
14. The communication device is loud and clear SA A D SDA I
15. The airline interior design is unique and clean SA A D SDA I
16. The airline provides in-flight entertainment devices and equipment SA A D SDA I
17. The airline offers adequate services for kids. SA A D SDA
18. The flight crew are willing to serve SA A D SDA I
19.The stewards give personal attention SA A D SDA I
20. The airhostess can speak different languages SA A D SDA I
21. The flight crew are not stereotype SA A D SDA I
22.Flight announcements are clear SA A D SDA I
23. The entertainment device is good SA A D SDA I
24.The airline seats are clean SA A D SDA I
25.The airline adopts standard smoking regulations SA A SDA I
26. The flight crew has smart appearance SA A D SDA I
27. I can recommend the airline to my relatives and friends SA A D SDA I
28. My overall assessment is positive SA A D SDA I
29. My decision for fly with Air New Zealand was good SA A D SDA I
30. I am satisfied with Air New Zealand’s services SA A D SDA I