Do we feel safer today? The impact of smiling customer service on airline safety perception post 9–11




Hunter, Joyce A.
Lambert, Jason R.

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The 9–11 attacks in 2001 were the most notorious airline safety breaches to ever occur in airline history. This attack stunned America’s airline industry and government, causing both to realize how ill equipped they were to deal with the terrorist attacks that impacted New York and Washington, D.C. This tragedy triggered psychological, social, economic, and political implications that propelled various reform strategies. Responding swiftly to the 9–11 tragedy, the government created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which implemented more invasive security procedures. As a result, some travelers are less attracted to flight travel. This paper explores whether safety procedures actually make individuals feel safer. Furthermore, smiling customer service ameliorates the negative attitude that some have towards airline safety. Responses from more than 100 travelers reveal their opinions on current safety in the skies. Results indicate that smiling customer service mitigates safety perceptions about airline travel for research participants, and younger travelers feel safer than older travelers.


Article originally published in Journal of Transportation Security, 9 (1-2), 35-56. English. Published online January 23, 2016.


Smiling customer service, Airline passenger safety, Airline passenger security, Aviation security, Passenger safety and securing


This is a pre-print version of an article that is available at: Recommended citation: Hunter, J. A., & Lambert, J. R. (2016). Do we feel safer today?: The impact of smiling customer service on airline safety perception post 911. Journal of Transportation Management, 9 (1-2), 35-56. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.