Purpose The study aimed to investigate the impact of customer misbehaviors on airline in-flight customer contact personnel. A theoretical framework was proposed to test the meditating role of role stress and emotional labor in the relationship between consumer misbehaviors and emotional exhaustion.Design/methodology/approach In all, 336 cabin crew members employed by international airline companies participated in the study. The hypothesized model was tested using structural equation modeling with AMOS 20.0.Findings The results provide evidence that customer misbehaviors relate positively to employee role stress, emotional labor and emotional exhaustion. Moreover, role stress and emotional labor play important roles in enhancing the impacts of customer misbehaviors and thereby influence employee emotional exhaustion.Practical implications The findings potentially impact on employers both within and beyond the airline industry by demonstrating how frontline employees can be provided with support to reduce stress or exhaustion, leading ultimately to increased satisfaction.Originality/value This study has provided deeper theoretical insights into customer misbehaviors and their effects on employee role stress, emotional labor and emotional exhaustion.
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 29 Issue 7, p1793-1813