Competency-Based Training in Aviation: The Impact on Flight Attendant Performance and Passenger Satisfaction

Latoya D Gibbs
Lisa Slevitch
Isaac Washburn
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2012), over one billion tourists traveled the globe in 2012. This figure marked a new record for international tourism. In spite of this increase of travelers, airlines are faced with declining levels of customer service and quality of customer experience (American Customer Satisfaction Index [ACSI], 2012). Frontline service employees, like flight attendants, create a critical impression of the service which impacts on customer perceptions and satisfaction. Nevertheless, a lot of unknowns exist about what creates such impression and how it can be improved. In particular, no study has investigated the effects of Competency-Based Training (CBT) on flight attendants’ performance and consequently passengers’ satisfaction. The goal of this research was to examine the effect of CBT. A group of 109 flight attendants was trained in four competencies: managing stress, dealing with conflict situations, displaying human relations skills, and delivering quality customer service. Pre-and post-training measures of flight attendants’ performance and customer satisfaction were taken. Random sampling was employed to administer questionnaires to passengers enroute to the Caribbean and North America. Chi-square analysis revealed that there is an association between flight attendant performance and customer satisfaction. However, flight attendant performance was not associated with CBT. Further analysis revealed that customer satisfaction is associated with CBT. Consequently, theoretical and practical implications were developed.