A case study of service failure and recovery within an international airline

David Bamford, Tatiana Xystouri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This paper seeks to examine the effectiveness of internal processes of service quality recovery for an international airline. Design/methodology/approach - An action research methodology was adopted. The research involved: A review of available service quality literature; the identification of causes of failure/errors within the host company; the development of key lessons and management guidelines. Findings - It is argued that, for service recovery to be effective, it must be external (to the customer) as well as internal (to the organisation). The need to incorporate employees and not overlook their significance, power and influence on the delivery of quality service is highlighted. Through comparison with another airline the findings re-assert that service quality excellence can only be achieved through employee satisfaction, commitment and loyalty as a result of senior management commitment, focus and drive. Research limitations/implications - The methodology applied was appropriate, generating data to facilitate discussion and from which to draw specific conclusions. A perceived limitation is the single case approach; however, Remenyi argues that this can be enough to add to the body of knowledge. For further investigation, there is an ongoing opportunity for future research in the area of service quality, failure and recovery, as well as the service quality gaps within the airline. Practical implications - Key lessons and management guidelines for improving service quality are presented. Originality/value - The paper describes how an international airline has tangible service quality failure and recovery systems in place, but fails to capitalise on the data and information generated. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-322
Number of pages16
JournalManaging Service Quality
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Airlines
  • Customer services quality
  • International travel
  • Service failures
  • Service improvements


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