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5 foreshadowed this study's findings, in every terminal ele- Research Approach ment studied, less than 10% of passengers cited "availabil- ity of space" as a variable that influenced their perception Discovering What Passengers Really Think of air terminal performance. In that paper, the authors' ref- A critical aspect of the success of the project was to dis- erence research conducted in 1975 by Brink and Maddison cover what truly does influence a passenger's perception of (6) regarding quantitative and qualitative factors that influence LOS. To help uncover the drivers for passenger perception, performance--specifically that these variables can be divided the TransSolutions team chose to use traditional quantitative into physical and psychological comfort variables. Another measures associated with time and space (to attempt to quan- intriguing finding by Seneviratne and Martel is that there is tify passengers' perceptions of LOS), complemented by non- no significant difference between the ranking of business traditional qualitative measures to add insight to compiled data. and leisure passengers. Several of this paper's findings are Ethnographic research is also called in situ (situational) or supported by the Seneviratne and Martel paper's research in-context research. It is a methodology used to uncover and conclusions. understand passenger behavior. The process uses methods In 1994, Seneviratne and Martel continued their research employed by cultural anthropology to interactively observe with "Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Service in Air Termi- passengers in actual situations and to understand--and later nals" (7), premised on the conclusion that passenger density predict--passenger reactions. Ethnographic research reveals and the six-level scheme to rate terminal subsystem perfor- passenger attitudes, motivations, expectations, and psychology. mance were inadequate. It thereby offers a reality check in terms of understanding pas- In 2001, Caves and Pickard (8) presented "The Satisfaction sengers. The unique benefit of ethnographic research to this of Human Needs in Airport Passenger Terminals," concluding effort is the discovery process: uncovering passenger motiva- that after the need for safety, the most important categories tions and concerns otherwise unknown. that passengers need in order to feel at ease are time and the A full ethnographic research effort would involve selecting elimination of unknowns. Their work highlights the impor- passengers before their trip day; accompanying them from tance of good wayfinding to meeting both of these needs, again their home or other starting point to the airport, through every supported by this research. stage of the process; and accompanying them onto the aircraft. The project team also looked outside the aviation industry The effort could also continue with accompanying the pas- to find research on physical planning standards that influence sengers through their arrival processing at their destination patron perception of LOS. Much research exists that consid- airports until they exit the terminals. A person trained in ers service quality, but in airports most aspects of service qual- ethnography will be able to draw out the necessary informa- ity are controlled by airlines or federal agencies, not airports. tion without affecting the passengers' behavior. However, the literature search identified one paper relevant Project constraints did not support a full ethnographic re- to the hotel industry that discussed how physical planning search effort. Therefore, in response to project constraints, standards influenced patron perception of LOS. In 1995, to be less obtrusive with the passenger processes, and to syn- Martin related research in "An Importance/Performance chronize collection of quantitative process data with qualitative Analysis of Service Providers' Perception of Quality Service perception data, the TransSolutions team conceived a hybrid in the Hotel Industry" (9). The research references work done approach, combining ethnographic techniques with passenger by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry in 1986 that found that intercepts. Passengers were questioned in the observed facili- service quality as perceived by customers involves five dimen- ties during the data collection periods in order to capture per- sions: tangibles (physical facilities, equipment, and appear- ceptions during the same time periods that quantitative data ance of personnel), responsiveness, assurance (knowledge and were being recorded. courtesy of employees and their ability to convey confidence), empathy (degree of caring), and reliability (promised ser- Research Objectives and vice is performed dependably). Based on a questionnaire for Approach Evolve management and employees, the work showed that although differences exist between management's and employees' per- Research proceeded based on a project plan selected and ceptions of what is important and acceptable to customers, approved by the ACRP Project Panel. However, as the proj- both groups failed to accurately perceive customers' opin- ect progressed, the initial research approach changed at two ions regarding service. The paper notes that quality service is important junctures. not simply doing things well, but rather that it is necessary to The first consequential change involved the timing of the In- understand what is important to the customer and then do terim Report. As initially conceived, the study Interim Report those things well. was to be published upon conclusion of the literature search,
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6 the airport planning survey, and preparation of the data collec- Theoretically, the contrast between these two terminals should tion plan. However, given the timing of the contract award, provide a fertile opportunity to discern gradations in passen- this schedule would have resulted in airport performance data ger perception of LOS based on space per passenger. being collected during the slower winter travel season. The Completion of the data analysis showed no difference TransSolutions team requested and received a no-cost exten- between passengers' perception of LOS based on differences in sion to the study schedule to facilitate data collection during the quantity of space provided in the same processing area in the summer--the typical period used as the basis for airport each terminal. This finding contradicted the prevailing view planning. This change also supported completion of a test data that passengers' perception of higher levels of service was based collection at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on less-dense concentrations of passengers (i.e., larger areas per during the busy spring-break travel period. Data collected dur- passenger) in each processing area. As a result of this finding, ing this period were analyzed and reported to the Project Panel the TransSolutions team, with the permission of the ACRP as part of the Interim Report. Project Panel, changed the data collection plan by reducing the Analysis of the test data collection led to the second conse- total number of airports studied to provide a larger data collec- quential change in the research study. The test data collection tion budget per airport. The objective was to ensure that sam- was conducted at DFW Terminals C and D. These two termi- ple sizes of both quantitative (time and space observations) and nals were selected because, although they both serve the same qualitative (LOS perception observations and interviews) data air carrier, the physical features of the two terminals are signifi- would support conclusive study findings. cantly different. Terminal C was built in 1973 and, regardless The research continued with collecting data at six more of expansion through the years, the corridors are narrow, the airports. Sample airports had diversity in size, air carrier type, passenger waiting areas are confined, and the ceilings are low. and facility configuration. The findings of the research, rec- In contrast, Terminal D opened in 2005 and has wide cor- ommendations for further study, and proposed guidelines for ridors, spacious passenger waiting areas, and high ceilings. LOS planning are provided in subsequent chapters.