Week 2 US Airline Industry Capacity to Provide Safe & Dignified Services Case Discussion I need a discussion post for the following instructions. All quest

Week 2 US Airline Industry Capacity to Provide Safe & Dignified Services Case Discussion I need a discussion post for the following instructions. All questions need to be thoroughly answered and well-written.

Week 2 Discussion: Case Study

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What you’ll do, why it matters, and how it relates to course curriculum: For the Public Relations professional, being able to properly analyze the findings of others is integral to the development critical thinking skills and judging the validity of secondary findings. Your discussion this week will focus on evaluating your understanding of the secondary research in this case study.

This week we’re covering:

This week we are exploring statistical significance and examining the validity of secondary research.

This is important because:

Being able to properly analyze secondary research data is an important role for the Public Relations professional. Developing your critical thinking and analytical skills will serve you well as you prepare to make your research pitch to your organization/artist.

This assignment will require you to:

1. Read the case study: Give at least two examples of where you believe the study is strong and at least one example of where you believe the study is weak. If you do not believe there are examples of strength or weakness, defend your answer.

2. Statistical Significance: Discuss one aspect of the data as it relates to statistical significance. Is the data set significant? Why or why not?

3. Construct Follow-Up: If you were using this study to create a PR campaign, what would be three (3) additional questions you would need to determine?

By completing this assignment you’ll be able to:

You will feel confident that you can analyze data, using common statistical terms, in a professional setting. As Public Relations professionals, you will be able to analyze data and adjust collection as needed to achieve statistically significant information.

Discussion Directions

For your initial post:

1. Read the case study: Give at least two examples of where you believe the study is strong and at least one example of where you believe the study is weak. If you do not believe there are examples of strength or weakness, defend your answer.

2. Statistical Significance: Discuss one aspect of the data as it relates to statistical significance. Is the data set significant? Why or why not? This is strictly about hard numbers and not about “soft” data.

3. Construct Follow-Up: If you were using this study to create a PR campaign, what would be three (3) additional questions you would need to determine?

Be free of any grammatical or spelling errors Disability and Rehabilitation, 2011; 33(25-26): 2612–2619
Improving the United States airline industry’s capacity to provide safe
and dignified services to travelers with disabilities: focus group findings
School of Social Work, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Accepted February 2010
Purpose. As a component of a training development project for intercity air travel providers, we investigated the capacity of
the airline industry to meet the needs of travelers with disabilities by exploring: (1) the level of sensitivity among personnel to
travelers’ needs, (2) training currently provided, (3) areas in which additional training might be beneficial, and (4)
organisational/systems-level commitment to dignified assistance to all travelers.
Method. Forty-four airline/vendor employees participated in nine focus groups in four US cities. Groups were audio
recorded and transcribed. A grounded-theory approach was used to develop a coding system which was then applied to
transcripts to identify themes.
Results. Factors influencing capacity grouped broadly into four areas: characteristics of the job/system, characteristics of current
training, characteristics of providers themselves, and characteristics of travelers. At an interpersonal level, providers were
empathetic and desired to provide dignified services. They lacked training and adequate equipment in some cases, however, and
organisational commitment varied between companies. Traveler characteristics were also shown to impact service delivery.
Conclusions. Results are promising but additional regulatory and organisational policies are needed to ensure quality services.
Providers and consumers of intercity air travel services may benefit from the findings and recommendations of this study.
Keywords: Travel, training
Persons with disabilities represent a significant share
of the intercity traveler population in the USA with
nearly a third of adults with disabilities (31%) having
traveled by air in the past 2 years (9.6 million air
travelers) [1]. For many of these individuals, the
ability to travel is more than just a convenience – it is
an important quality of life issue [2,3]. While
intracity and intercity transportation services for
people with disabilities have vastly improved over
the past two decades, significant barriers and
constraints still exist [4,5]. Crawford and Godbey
(in Turco et al.) [6] conceptualised these constraints
as intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural. For a
multitude of reasons, the provision of intercity air
travel services to travelers with disabilities leads to
frustrating and even dangerous situations for both
travelers and providers alike.
Many persons with disabilities must depend on
airline and subcontracting organisation (‘vendor’)
personnel to assist them with aspects of the travel
process including boarding and deboard aircraft and
using onboard lavatories. This leaves travelers
vulnerable to injuries or, at the very least, potentially
uncomfortable situations [6]. Despite laws meant to
ensure the rights of travelers with disabilities,
including the United States Air Carriers Access Act
(ACAA) [7], in 2005 the United States Department
of Transportation (USDOT) received 498 disabilityspecific complaints (5.7% of total complaints)
against air transportation providers [8].
Transportation personnel also face unique challenges when trying to provide safe and dignified
services to travelers with disabilities [9]. Assisting
travelers with transfers in the confined space of an
aircraft cabin can be extremely difficult due to the
physical characteristics of personnel and travelers
Correspondence: Michael MCCarthy, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210108, Cincinnati OH, 45221-0108.
E-mail: socialworkweb@uc.edu
ISSN 0963-8288 print/ISSN 1464-5165 online ª 2011 Informa UK, Ltd.
DOI: 10.3109/09638281003729540
Improving the United States airline industry’s capacity
and severe space limitations [10]. Although precise
estimates of assistance-related injuries are not available due to inconsistencies in job classifications
among air carriers and, especially, among subcontracting or ‘vendor’ companies, anecdotal evidence
from the focus groups conducted for this project
indicates that injuries from lifting in difficult
environments are a major concern.
The ACAA and its accompanying Technical
Assistance Manual outline carriers’ legal responsibilities with respect to serving travelers with
disabilities. Included in carriers’ responsibility to
practice ‘nondiscrimination on the basis of disability’ are obligations related to assisting travelers
with planning a trip, while at the airport, while
boarding and deplaning the aircraft, during the
flight, and with complaints should adverse events
occur [11]. As with many laws, however, implementation and adherence to the ACAA has varied
between air carriers.
Lawsuits based on violations of the ACAA have
been brought against a number of airlines in recent
years [12–15]. Many requirements of the ACAA still
remain unclear, including verbiage about ‘training to
proficiency’, and loopholes exist such as the exemption of aircraft with seating capacity of 5 31.
Moreover, the organisational complexity of most
airport environments with intersecting federal, state,
regional, and city governments, airport operators,
airlines, and vendor companies has led to disagreement about whose responsibility it is to implement
different provisions of the ACAA [16]. These and
other factors combine to cause travelers with
disabilities to be uncertain about the capacity of the
airline industry to meet their specialised needs [17].
Previous research has looked at these issues largely
from the perspective of travelers and their families
[1,2,18] and found services to be wanting. In a focus
group investigation paralleling the present study,
travelers with disabilities consistently indicated the
need for increased interpersonal communication
Bitner et al. [19] looked at customer satisfaction/
dissatisfaction during critical service encounters from
the viewpoint of hotel, restaurant and airline ‘contact
employees’. Similar work has been done for other
service sectors including health and other direct care
providers [20,21]. Authors in the transportation and
tourism fields have written about the health aspects
of intercity travel [22,23] as well as organisational
issues related to providing quality services for all
travelers [24]. The present study is a first effort at
providing a snapshot of airline industry capacity from
the perspective of industry personnel.
Packer et al. [17] developed a conceptual model
to understand how travelers with disabilities
become and remain ‘Travel Active’ (As seen in
Figure 1). This model is useful for the present
investigation because it acknowledges of the role of
contextual issues in the travel experience. According to Packer, ‘Becoming and Remaining Travel
Active’ is characterised by six distinct stages which
are, in turn, influenced by personal and environmental factors. Through this qualitative study, we
sought to better understand the attitudinal, services, systems and policy dimensions of the
Environmental/Travel Context of persons with
disabilities. Specifically, we investigated providers’
knowledge, sensitivity, and skills in serving travelers
with disabilities, how personnel are currently being
trained and in what areas additional training might
be beneficial, and how personnel perceive their
organisations’ general commitment to quality services for all travelers including those with disabilities. This article presents an overview and
discussion of our findings and concludes with brief
regulatory and organisational policy recommendations for improving services.
Forty-four air carrier and vendor personnel, both
persons responsible for directly assisting travelers
with physical transfers and supervisors of these
persons, were recruited by networking with six air
carriers and subcontracting organisations in Portland
(OR), Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Miami. Sites were
selected in order to provide for the greatest
geographic representation of airline and vendor
Nine structured focus groups were conducted
between July 2005 and April 2006. Each group
was audio-recorded, lasted approximately 2 h, and
had 3 to 10 participants. An interview schedule
was developed by the research team and used to
facilitate conversation. Talking points were grouped
Figure 1. Packer et al.’s model of tourism and disability.
M. J. MCCarthy
into broad categories relating to the topics of
interest and included discussions of:
participants’ experiences or incidents around
serving travelers with disabilities,
how participants are trained to assist travelers
with disabilities,
details about the training that is currently
provided (duration, frequency) and current
training methods and procedures,
participants’ views on gaps in current training,
preferences for training content, and preferences for training methods/modalities,
how trainings are framed by the organisation
(i.e., mandatory, required, suggested), and
incentives organisations use to promote or
reinforce quality service to customers with
A Position Information Questionnaire was also used
and contained questions about participant demographic information, perceptions around knowledge/
experience necessary to perform job functions, and
open-ended responses related to perceived impact of
the position on travelers with disabilities. Direct
service personnel were paid $30.00 to participate.
Consent to participate and consent to audio-record
were obtained prior to each group and all activities
were conducted under the approval and supervision of
the Institutional Review Board at Oregon Health and
Science University in Portland, Oregon.
Audio recordings were professionally transcribed for
analysis and review. A coding system was used to
evaluate responses provided by participants during
focus groups. This system was created based on a
review of a sub-set of focus group transcripts. Two
graduate-level research assistants independently reviewed focus group transcripts and independently
generated lists of the most frequently occurring topic
areas and responses. After this independent generation of potential codes, research assistants met to
identify areas of consensus on topics and on codes
within each topic area. The most commonly occurring, consensually identified responses were given
codes. Once these codes were agreed upon, research
assistants met with the principal investigator and
project coordinator who conducted the focus groups
to confirm the validity of the coded responses and to
reach agreement on a final coding system. The final
coding system contained 43 unique codes regarded
as either positive or negative.
Content coding of focus group transcripts was
completed by a graduate research assistant. A subset
of the focus group transcript pages (14 pages) was
also coded by the project coordinator to assess interrater reliability. In the current study, inter-rater
reliability on the coded responses ranged from 0.69
to 0.91. Mean reliability on the coding was 0.82,
which is considered to be within the acceptable
range. In total, 365 pages of raw data resulted in
1098 coded participant comments.
Twenty-seven participants were persons whose primary role was direct service to travelers and 17
participants were primarily supervisors, although
significant overlap in responsibilities was common
(i.e., supervisors directly assisting travelers as part of
their regular duties). Participants ranged in age from
17 to 72, with a mean age of 44.4 years. Forty-six per
cent of participants were female and 77% identified
themselves as ‘Caucasian, non-Hispanic’. Length of
time in position ranged from 1 to 348 months (29
years) with a mean length of time in position of 69.2
months (5.8 years). Twenty-one per cent of
participants were high-school graduates, 34% had
some college but no degree, 32% were college
graduates, and 9.1% had graduate degrees. Eightynine per cent of participants identified themselves as
full-time employees (As seen in Table I).
A number of positive and negative factors impacting
the capacity of the intercity airline industry to provide
safe and dignified services were revealed through
qualitative analysis. There was considerable variation
in participant views, depending in part on whether
participants were employed directly by air carriers or
the vendors contracted to provide specialised services.
In general, however, factors mentioned by providers
grouped broadly into four areas: characteristics of the
job or system, characteristics of current training,
characteristics of service providers themselves, and
characteristics of travelers with disabilities. Table II
provides an overview of the frequency of participant
comments in the four topic areas.
Characteristics of the job or system
Of the 1098 coded comments, 37% (406) related to
the job or system in which participants work. Factors
having a negative impact on the industry’s capacity
included providers lacking information about the
traveler’s needs prior to contact, lacking sufficient
equipment and time to perform job duties safely, and
lacking pay, professional status, and respect for the
position among peers.
One of the most frequently cited concerns of
transportation personnel was the lack of information
Improving the United States airline industry’s capacity
Table I. Participant demographic characteristics.
(n ¼ 27)
Under 18
18–30 years
31–45 years
46–60 years
61 and older
Caucasian, non-Hispanic
African American
Less than H.S. diploma
H.S. diploma
Some college, no degree
College graduate
Graduate degree
Work status
Full time
Part time
(n ¼ 44)
23 85.2
4 14.8
5 18.5
13 48.1
5 18.5
14 51.9 6
13 48.1 11
20 74.1 14
4 14.8 1
7.4 –
3.7 1
9 33.3
10 37.0
6 22.2
22 81.5 17 100.0
3 11.1 –
7.4 –
(n ¼ 17)
were going to take off the plane’. Another participant
described inefficiencies resulting from poor ‘downstream’ communication about changes in traveler
needs. ‘Sometimes they [dispatch] tell us to bring
wheelchairs. Why couldn’t they say, ‘‘Instead of ten,
now we only need four wheelchairs’’’.
Personnel also related stories about malfunctioning communication equipment. Concerning radios,
one participant stated, ‘we have a few new ones and a
lot of old ones’. Another participant related concerns
about faulty equipment leading to dangerous situations. ‘Another thing is if you get somebody that’s
hurt on a concourse . . . and you have a radio that
you can’t communicate with. And here’s this person,
it could be life or death’.
Other participants had general concerns about
their status within the structure of their work
environment. One vendor employee described how
he and his colleagues are viewed by other airport
personnel. ‘We’re at the bottom of the totem pole,
and its not like we’re making any money . . . If you
get hurt on the job you don’t get health insurance . . . I kind of get the feeling that we’re not really
that important here at the airport’.
Positive factors impacting the industry’s capacity
centered on the stimulating nature of the work
environment. Participants enjoyed interacting with
travelers with disabilities and the camaraderie they
felt with colleagues. Overall, participants expressed
warm feelings for their customers and coworkers and
how these aspects of the work environment encouraged and reinforced the provision of quality services.
‘One thing that helps us all a lot, we’ve worked
together a lot. We’re like family. We really care for
each other, and that makes a lot of difference. I think
it does. We’re a team’.
*Category including Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American.
Table II. Frequency of participant comments by topic area.
Topic area
Total (N)
the job or system
current training
the service providers themselves
travelers needing assistance
provided about what to expect when being called to
assist a traveler with a disability. For example, one
vendor employee related a story about arriving with a
colleague to assist a traveler in deboarding the
aircraft. ‘And there was an incident where [Darla1]
and I went to . . . one of the gates, and the ticket
agent laughed at us because they looked at [Darla]
and I . . . ‘‘There’s these two little people, and there’s
this . . . ’’ It was a pretty good-sized person that we
Characteristics of current training
Thirty-six per cent (395) of participant comments
related to current training or suggested areas for
improvement. There were significant differences in
the quality, depth and breadth of the training
participants received depending on whether they
were employed by air carriers or vendor organisations and sometimes, depending on the individual
trainer. ‘It would depend on the day, because the
trainer will stress certain things on different days.
Like I sat through several of these classes and
sometimes he’ll forget to mention something, or
just . . . stuff he goes over. Its different all the time’.
Some participants depended almost entirely on
‘on-the-job’ training while others were provided with
combinations of video, didactic, experiential and
web-based learning opportunities. Some providers
offered employees annual recurrent training while
M. J. MCCarthy
others depended on traveler complaints or
personnel/traveler injuries to indicate a need for
refresher courses.
Participants generally viewed current training
systems as having room for improvement. The most
frequently mentioned training-related factors were
the need for specialists to deliver content-specific
information about services to travelers with disabilities and a need for more extensive, standardised,
and ongoing (recurrent) training about specific types
of disabilities, effective communication with travelers, and assistance with difficult physical transfers.
Concerning the level of detail of the training his
company provides, a participant stated, ‘Well, someone yesterday didn’t even know what an aisle chair
looked like, so obviously in class they didn’t show
one and so he had no idea’.
There were many positive comments in this area
related to the compassion exhibited by individual
trainers and their ability to convey this to training
participants. One participant stated, ‘I’d just like to
say that our trainer really pushes, stresses respect for
others’. Another stated, ‘Our trainer really stresses
the importance of every individual’. A supervisor and
trainer of vendor personnel described his approach
by saying, ‘the customers are very unique, very
special people, very valuable . . . so that’s the way you
treat them, and then I show them’.
Characteristics of the service providers themselves
Fifteen per cent (165) of coded comments related
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