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CASE STUDY 81 Case Study Service Quality at Express Airlines en Kidd was a relatively new associate with Express Airlines, a national carrier with extensive routes in the eastern half of the coun try. On one particular night, Ben was working the gate in Chicago, getting ready to load a flight to Washington, D.C. The flight was scheduled to be about 90 percent full, so he wanted to begin boarding passengers as quickly as possible after the plane landed, the passengers deplaned, and the cleaning crew got the plane ready for the next flight. When the plane landed ob 20 minutes later than scheduled, the pilot reported a small mechanical pr lem that would have to checked by the airline mechanics prior to when the outbound passengers boarded the aircraft and departed for Washington, D.C. There was a crew change for the flight as well. The crew-pilot, first officer, and flight attendants-boarded the plane as soon as the inbound pas sengers deplaned. The outbound pilot spoke with the inbound pilot and the mechanics concerning the mechanical problem. There was some uncertainty but the mechanics felt that the problem was minor and could be repaired within the next 30 minutes. The pilot reported this to Ben, who then pro- vided an update to the outbound passengers about the 30-minute departure delay. A few passengers approached the desk in the gate area to speak with Ben about travel options, while other passengers immediately pulled their mobile phones out of their pockets, placing calls to the airline and other travel agencies to explore options. Ben felt he had done an excellent job in inform- ing the passengers about the delay caused by the mechanical problem and couldnt quite understand why passengers were so “edgy about the delay and were pressing him for more information and assurances that the flight would depart after the 30-minute delay while the mechanics made the necessary repairs After about 15 minutes, Ben checked with the outgoing pilot, the mechan ics working on the repair and his supervisor. It was determined that the repairs were progressing on schedule and that the passengers should be loaded in anticipation of a 30-minute delayed departure. Ben immediately began to load the plane, beginning with the premier-level passengers. That entire process took about 20 minutes, during which time the mechanics continued to work n the repair. As the last passenger took her seat, the mechanics informed the pilot and Ben that the repairs could not be completed and that the plane would need to be returned to the hanger to complete the repair. The plane would not be available for service until sometime the next day, as an additional part needed to be installed and would not be available until the next day. As Bern

82 CHAPTER 2 INTRODUCTION TO HOSPITALITY SERVICES MARKETING hung up the phone after talking with the pilot, the pilot announced to the seated passengers that the repair could not be made and that all passengers would have to leave the aircraft. He apologized for the delay and indicated that airline personnel would be available to assist passengers with modifying their plans. Case Study Questions and Issues 1. Assess the actions that Ben undertook. What were the positive actions? What might he have done differently? 2. Develop a service blueprint of the preboarding and boarding of the flight to Washington, D.C. How might this be used to improve the situation? 3. What specific action steps and timetable would you recommend to Ben 4. Are there other individual airline personnel that might become 5. Discuss the gaps in the service quality process that passengers at this point? involved? What role(s) might they play? experienced 6. What other actions could have been taken by Express Airlines personnel?

Book : Hospitality and Marketing Management (5th edition) Robert D. Reid and David C. Bojanic

1. Assess the actions that Ben undertook. What were the positive actions? What might he have done differently?

2. Develop a service blueprint of the preboarding and boarding of the flight to Washington D.C How much this be used to improve the situation?

3. What specific action steps and timetable would you recommend to Ben at this point?

4. Are there other individual airline personnel that might become involved? What role(s)might they play?

5. Discuss the gaps in the service quality process that passengers experienced.

6. What other actions could have been taken by Express Airlines?

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