Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Airline service failure and recovery :
a conceptual and empirical analysis

Leow, SC


SC Leow


One of the most problematic issues to face airlines in recent years has been service failure/breakdown. Consequently, the notion of effective recovery, in terms of retaining customer loyalty, has become increasingly important. The aim of this study is to examine incidents of airline service failure and identify optimal recovery strategies.
The study evaluates the service failure and recovery strategies in full-service airlines and low-cost carriers, the comparative effectiveness of alternative recovery actions/strategies (e.g. apology, compensation, correction, explanation) and their impact on post-recovery satisfaction and loyalty for a range of failure types. It also examines the mediating effect of emotion and justice on post-recovery behaviour.
A total of 387 useable questionnaires were obtained from three different sources: a street intercept survey in Manchester (n=50); an online survey at Salford University (n=52); a Marketest panel survey (n=285). A number of important findings have been obtained from the hypothesis tests. Firstly, the severity of service failure and failure criticality were found to have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, negative word-of-mouth communication (WOM) and customer loyalty. Secondly, the results revealed the following five service recovery actions are particularly effective for airline service recovery: acceptance of responsibility of service failure; correction; compensation; apology and follow-up in writing. Thirdly, the results show that three recovery actions (e.g. compensation; acceptance of responsibility and correction) have a significant impact on customer post-recovery satisfaction when severity is high (>4).
The implications of these results are that operations manager and staff can use these five recovery actions to deal with service failure (e.g. acceptance of responsibility of service failure; correction; compensation; apology and follow-up in writing). Frontline staff needs to be aware of customer emotions during service failure incident and good service recovery can therefore avoid negative customer emotion.


a conceptual and empirical analysis. (Thesis). University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Acceptance Date Apr 14, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2016


Airline Service Failure and Recovery A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis.pdf (2.9 Mb)

Downloadable Citations