Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Business Honours


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure


Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Nevil Alexander


This study explored airline service failures that occurred in-flight (during the flight) and service recovery techniques attempted within the industry. A mixed methodology was adopted so that the key issues could be identified and the respondents' feelings and motivations could be examined. A questionnaire was developed to investigate in-flight service failures and, if any, the degree of success of the service recovery attempts, as judged by the respondent. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted to explore selected respondents' feelings and the motivations behind their answers. The rich data obtained is important because it gives the study more relevance and depth. This research found that the cabin crew on-board a flight had a significant impact on the outcome and satisfaction level of the passengers. The study also found that the cabin crew were considered to be responsible for a significant number of in-flight service failures. The analysis of the results showed that often it was not what the cabin crew did; rather it was how they did it. The findings of the research supported the attempted recovery techniques which are discussed in the review of the literature. (These included attribution, apology, assistance, employee empowerment and satisfaction, time, compensation and communication). It was found that the cabin crew had the biggest impact on the passenger's satisfaction. Although not all of the failures experienced by passengers were initiated by the cabin crew; it was seen as their responsibility to attempt a recovery. This study showcased the most common failures occurring in-flight and also what recovery techniques were attempted. It also found how satisfied the passengers were at the end of the encounters. Future research can take the findings from this study to develop a model for measuring satisfaction with an attempted service recovery which is specific for the airline industry.