|1.2 Significance of Study|
|1.3 Aims and Objectives|
|2.1 Customer Satisfaction (CS)|
|2.2 Theory of Passenger Satisfaction|
|2.3 Parties Involved in Baggage Handling|
|2.4 Baggage Handling|
|2.5 Baggage Waiting and Passenger Satisfaction|
3.1 Quantitative Research
|3.2 Qualitative Research|
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports in the world. Corresponding to the busy traffic flow, there are over ten thousand pieces of checked baggage with an average of 20kg each to handle per day. (Ir Alex Kwan, HKIA 2017) From check-in to departure, arrival and claims, baggage handling is an essential part of entire airport operation as it enables ground support teams to do their work quickly, safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, Hong Kong International Airport, as a world-class airport, has been notorious in disappointing its visitors with low efficiency in baggage access. (Danny Lee, SCMP, 18 Nov 2017).
To review the quality of service provided by the Hong International Airport, this research aimed to evaluate the performance of baggage management system through qualitative method by interviewing key players in baggage handling mechanism and air travellers who have used this service. Generally, the overall satisfaction of the baggage handling system is low. Though passengers find the baggage waiting facilities up to expectation, the baggage access time to far beyond satisfaction. Analyzing from the data collected from interviews, the delay of baggage delivery is caused by three major factors which are 1) environment factors which include road traffic, facilities, baggage carts, conveyors etc; 2) human factors which include number of staff, professionalism of staff and work attitude; 3) Operation factors which include security check, narcotic search and baggage check-in procedures.
For improvement of the above root problems, there are three recommendations. First, the extension of underground baggage pathway may release the stress on road which is a major cause of baggage delay. Next, the automatic baggage system will be able to address all the three factors which cause long access time of baggage as it would tremendously reduce the number of manpower needed as well as reduce the time needed for security control. Last, the setting up of redundancy system helps to avoid potential problem arise from failure of baggage handling system.
The passengers are considered the most important stakeholders in any organization. As such, fulfilling the needs of the passenger is important to achieve a competitive edge. Proficient and effective handling of customer complaints could result into reward of customer loyalty. According to Yen et al, (2001), happy passengers are capable of providing repeat business. Customer value is considered the most vital aspect for business success in today’s highly competitive environment. Thus, consumer value has been positioned at the center of organizational strategy. Prioritization of the consumer value is therefore imperative for achieving outstanding performance in the airline industry. Popovic et al, (2010) posit that passenger retention and loyalty management are often stressed since it is cheaper to retain loyal clients than acquiring a new one. As a result of the increased demand for air transportation recently and airport operation diffecomplexity, it no longer an easy task to ensure that the airport remains efficient and reliable. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) present a key set of critical measures that focuses on elements of organizational performance considered important for both the present and future success of the organization. Airline passengers are thus considered the key stakeholders that impact the profitability of an airport (Gupta and Venkaiah, 2015).
The major service providers within the airport management are the air operators, staff, ground handling firms, and even air companies. They all strive to achieve passenger satisfaction. While at the airport, passengers are mostly served by a number of groups including passport control, security control, and check-in counters. Arguably, passenger satisfaction is mostly affected by different service degree across these phases. Oflac and Yumuryaci, (2014) established that the baggage access time is a critical sign of satisfaction. In most cases, longer waiting causes dissatisfaction and further impact the perceived quality of service (Fodness and Murray, 2007). Some of the commonly mentioned factors that result in delayed baggage are tagging errors, restrictions, bag switch and errors in ticketing in addition to security errors. The paper seeks to analyze antecedents of baggage access time and offer informed recommendation to lower the baggage access time to achieve improved passenger satisfaction at the Hong Kong international airport.
1.2 Significance of the Study
Passenger satisfaction is generally the most important factor in air travel since it might build or break the reputation and the airline’s long-term profits (Popovic et al, 2010). Airline management should be able to quickly respond to the changes that occur in the air travel industry to meet their growing and changing demands. The findings of this paper will help the Hong Kong international airport to understand the antecedents of baggage access time and ways to lower the access times to achieve improved passenger satisfaction.
1.3 Aims and Objectives
The aim of the paper is to analyze the antecedents of baggage access time and recommend measures to lower the access time to achieve improved passenger satisfaction at an international airport in Hong Kong. The following are the major objectives that will guide this study:
2.0 Literature review
2.1 Customer Satisfaction (CS)
Customer satisfaction emerged around the 1970s as a distinct field of inquiry and firms have come to understand the strategic advantages of service quality and consumer satisfaction as the level of competition becomes highly intense and global (Rayport et al, 2005). Customer satisfaction is simply defined as a post-choice evaluative judgment of a particular purchase occasion (Yen et al, 2001). i It further helps airline companies to critically analyze the performance of baggage handling to consumers to point out areas for possible improvements and areas considered important by passengers. Airlines can easily predict passenger retention and loyalty in addition to organizational profitability through passenger satisfaction surveys. Popovic et al, (2010) pointed out that passenger satisfaction translates to increased profitability. Also, there is a positive correlation between passenger satisfaction and passenger loyalty and retention.
2.2 Theory of Passenger Satisfaction
2.2.1 Expectancy Disconfirmation Theory” (EDT)
EDT is one of the famous theories used in measuring overall customer satisfaction. The paradigm’s major components are satisfaction, expectations, disconfirmation and perceived performance. According to Elkhani and Bakri, (2012), expectation-confirmation theory (ECT) is founded on the idea that customer’s expectations together with the perceived performance always leads to post-purchase satisfaction. In this case, the passenger’s expectations regarding baggage waiting time will reflect an anticipated behavior. The expectations tend to serve as the key comparison standard in ECT which apparently makes satisfaction a fundamental function of the baseline effects of expectations. Disconfirmation judgment that is inevitably formed affects overall satisfaction negatively or positively (Elkhani and Bakri, 2012). Considering this, if a service that a passenger receives surpasses the expectations, then post-purchase satisfactions will emerge. Also in case, the perceived performance is equal to the overall expected performance, then it might create a neutral feeling referred to as confirmation. However, if the service falls short of expectations, then the passengers might eventually become dissatisfied.
2.3 Parties Involved in Baggage Handling
There are about five major parts that are majorly involved in all baggage handling processes at the airport and each tends to place considerably different demand on the processes ultimately translating into higher rates of conflicts of interests (Oflac and Yumuryaci, 2014). The first group is the passengers who mostly demand a hassle-free process which is highly reliable and fast in addition to short transfers (Martín-Cejas, 2006). Additionally, passengers are after the freedom of bringing a wider range of baggage shapes, weight, and size. The second group is the airlines and they mostly wish to combine fleet utilization and passenger satisfaction at the least cost. Gkritza et al, (2006) showed that the rates of error are key here since all costs for damage and delivery change are entirely born by the airlines.
The third group is the airports who are concerned about attaining utmost quality at the reasonable investment. Evidently, quality is regarded as the chief component since passengers often associate all the delays and potential errors in baggage handling to the airport (Abdelaziz et al, 2010). The fourth group is the security agents who in most instances places stronger demand on baggage handling; requiring in-line screening process to manage suspect baggage. Further, the security anticipates the airport to incorporate in-line security procedures and offer key areas for baggage handling. The last group is the handling agents and these are entirely focused on the costs (Gupta and Venkaiah, 2015). Generally, they anticipate the airport to create areas and key systems that will eventually facilitate highest ease of baggage processing.
2.4 Baggage Handling
An efficient baggage handling does not strictly imply automation and mechanization. The majority of the passengers often perceive baggage handling as one of the major contributor of quality service at any airport (Atalik, 2009). Thus, with an increasing level of competition in the airline industry, there has also been intense pressure for the companies to further improve the entire baggage handling processes. According to Gkritza et al, (2006), considering the high technical nature linked to baggage handling systems, one can be tempted to focus on the aspect of technological aspects. Ranges of factors have been argued to contribute to the complexity in baggage handling at large international airports and this influences both qualities of services and cost. Large international airports often handle massive quantities of the transfer baggage which consequently introduces sorting problems (Abdelaziz et al, 2010). The huge volume of baggage being handled also tends to raise the higher risks of congestions, control problems, and routing errors. Additionally, the physical size of an international airport considerably extends transport times to and from aircraft hence leaving much less time available for the real sorting and handling of all the baggage items (Martín-Cejas, 2006).
Baggage handling procedures could greatly affect aircraft turn around in different ways, majorly time needed for the actual loading of the baggage. The speed at which the baggage is screened and sorted is also paramount. Such cases apply to check in baggage and baggage items transfer between two connecting flights (Zidarova and Zografos, 2011). If all these processes are poor quality and unreliable, it translates to misdirected and delayed baggage resulting in aircraft departure’s delays. In case the security measures such as hold baggage screening and baggage reconciliation are included in the late phase of handling chain then they might also result in delays (Atalik, 2009). Some of the most critical aspects for efficient and quality baggage handling includes; interface between various parties particularly handover between baggage handler and baggage handling system is a serious source of delays. The others are efficient baggage item handling and speed versus timeliness (Fodness and Murray, 2007).
2.5 Baggage Waiting and Passenger Satisfaction
Time is a scarce resource, thus satisfying consumer requirements becomes critical. Generally, determinants of customer’s level of dissatisfaction with longer baggage waits are often based on the characteristics of passenger characteristics, characteristics of wait and service perception (Oflac and Yumuryaci, 2014). The longer waiting has been associated with future behaviors of passengers ultimately impacting passenger satisfaction. Zidarova and Zografos, (2011) assert that waiting often occurs in the following core stages pre-process, in-process and the post-process delays. Before departure time will be spent on screening the passengers and their baggage. In overall, the waiting lines have been linked to higher consumer dissatisfaction and increased costs (Abdelaziz et al, 2010). For example, extensive waiting at the counter will affect the perceived service quality.
Passenger satisfaction is influenced by numerous factors including the perceived value, passenger’s expectations, and the perceived service quality. Some major factors that play a critical role in passenger satisfaction include baggage handling; cargo handling, administration activities, and airport maintenance as they affect the time spend at the airport. According to Fodness and Murray, (2007) baggage is considered a post-process delay and takes place at the last phase of service delivery after the primary services. Accuracy and promptness of baggage delivery are fundamentally considered critical measures for passenger satisfaction at the airport.
The population under study included passenger at the international airport in Hong Kong. The population specifically entailed persons with diverse socio-economic and demographic characteristic and only those who frequently use the airline. There is no doubt that this target population was most suitable to gather data to answer the research topic since they have experience with the airline company.
3.13 Sampling Method
Stratified random sampling will be adopted. Stratified random sampling included the development of the random sample from an exclusive group (Creswell et al, 2007).This means it is to divide the entire population into smaller groups which are called strata. In my studies, I will first divide the entire population of air passengers into long-hauled and short-hauled. This is to have in-depth enquiry on whether the distance of travelling would affect the baggage access time or not in a more systematic way. This guarantees that the target population would be well-represented. After this, simple random samples are then selected from each stratum. An electronic spreadsheet will be used to generate random numbers. Next, a simple random sampling was used to develop a suitable sample size for the study (Creswell et al, 2007). Simple random sampling gave every member of the target population an equal opportunity of being picked which enhanced the objectivity of the research findings (Birmingham and Wilkinson, 2003). The sample size for this study was 100 customers.
3.2 Qualitative Research
3.21 Research Design
Qualitative research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data (Babbie, Earl 2014). This research answers why and how a certain phenomenon may occur rather than how often. (Berg, Bruce Lawrence; Lune, Howard 2012). Qualitative research enables researcher to gain a richly detailed understanding of a particular topic, issue, or meaning based on first-hand experience. This is achieved by having a relatively small but focused sample base because collecting the data can be rather time consuming. A qualitative research design is concerned with establishing answers to the whys and hows of the phenomenon in question. Therefore, qualitative research method is used to collect data about the reasons for the poor baggage access service in 4.2 as well as the way for improvement in part 6.0 (i.e. recommendations).
3.22 Target Population
Passengers who have experienced baggage access system will be the target for they are the service users themselves. In-depth interview with passengers in the baggage claiming areas help to collect further information about how they grade the baggage access system. Also, staff who work in different units of the baggage system will be interviewed for they are the insiders who know how the baggage system operates. This enable investigator to have a comprehensive collection of data from different perspectives.
3.23 Sampling Method
Convenience sampling and judgement sampling will be adopted. Convenience sampling is to get sample from a group of people easy to contact or to reach. For example, standing at a mall and asking people to answer questions would be an example of a convenience sample. This is most appropriate for researcher to conduct in-depth interview with travellers at the baggage claiming zone. With this method, rich data will be dug out from travellers concerning the specific experience which affect their satisfaction of airport baggage service.
On the other hand, in the process of investigating possible solutions for improvement, data from professional parties is needed. This is why judgement sample is applied in this part. Judgment sampling is the choice of sample items depends exclusively on the investigator’s knowledge and professional judgment. In other words, the investigator chooses only those sample items which he feels to be the best representative of the population with regard to the attributes or characteristics under investigation. With the use of this method, key players in baggage management have been selected e.g. staff from baggage handling team, airport Management Officer, as well as airline ground service staff.
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