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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 28  |  Page : 17--27

Complaint data as an index of annoyance-theoretical and methodological issues

M Maziul1, RFS Job2, J Vogt3,  
1 Dept of Organisational Psychology, University of Dortmund, Germany
2 School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Australia
3 Department of Psychology,University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Correspondence Address:
M Maziul
Dept. 14, Organisational Psychology, University of Dortmund, Emil-Figge-Str. 50 Dortmund- 44227


Complaining constitutes one facet of all reactions to noise annoyance and is one way to cope with annoyance due to aircraft noise. In order to value and to establish the usefulness of complaint data as an index of annoyance, four questions need to be answered: * Which factors lead annoyed residents to complain about aircraft noise or related issues? * Which factors keep annoyed residents from complaining? * Are the existing ways to handle annoyance adequate and efficient (e.g. keeping track of complaints, reaction to complains, kinds of complaint services)? * Which are new ways to handle annoyance adequately and efficiently? In this paper a first attempt to answer these questions is made. Obviously, complaint data do not reflect noise annoyance in the surroundings of airports to the full extent as there are residents living in affected areas who do not complain, as well as residents living in areas with relatively low noise levels who complain. Also there is a large group of people who declare to be highly annoyed and yet, they do not lodge any complaint. Possible intervening factors are gathered that determine if an annoyed resident takes action and complains. It was found that noise levels per se are not the crucial factor for residents' decisions to complain or not to complain. Personal as well as feasibility factors play a vital role. Yet, the ongoing controversy on the relation between annoyance and complaint behavior seems not resolved yet. However, complaint behavior seems to be influenced by various aspects and complaint data consequently cannot be accepted as an accurate measure of public annoyance. Further research is required to address the preferred method of handling reaction to noise and the extent to which complaint itself helps with coping, for different groups of residents.

How to cite this article:
Maziul M, Job R, Vogt J. Complaint data as an index of annoyance-theoretical and methodological issues.Noise Health 2005;7:17-27

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Maziul M, Job R, Vogt J. Complaint data as an index of annoyance-theoretical and methodological issues. Noise Health [serial online] 2005 [cited 2020 Oct 21 ];7:17-27
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Complaint services operated by airports, city councils, parties, and environmental organization serve various purposes: In the first place, they are installed to give residents an avenue to air their concern about aircraft/airport related issues; further to provide them with information about specific aircraft, air traffic procedures, and future development plans etc. Airport managements use complaint services to gather information about disturbances and annoyance caused by airport operations in order to possibly meet residents' needs and wishes. Moreover, complaint services are used to manage environmental opposition, which cost enterprises billions of dollars in the 1980 already (Wiesner, 1984).

Complaint data also play an important role in public inquiries concerning future planning of major airport developments. Public opposition appears to be a major constraint in this respect. Moreover, complainers have been a major force in driving the noise limitation agenda.

In spite of this vital importance in various aspects of air traffic, little effort has so far been made to explore complaint data with respect to qualitative analyses. The different approaches to examine noise 1. collecting complaints recorded by authorities; 2. conducting surveys) need to be considered in the analyses as well. Avery (1982), for example, compared telephone complaints with noise annoyance measures obtained via a household survey and reports no correlation between the two data sets. One possible reason for this might be memory and reconstruction issues on the one hand, and the usage of standard complaint record forms on the other hand. Avery draws the conclusion not to use noise complaints to monitor noise pollution in Sydney, where the study was conducted. Add to the above, airport managements often voice their experience that there is a special "complaint personality". If this is true, the sample of complainants is very biased compared to a questionnaire survey, in which a representative sample is drawn and questioned about their annoyance due to aircraft noise. In this sense when assessing complaint data it has to be considered how these data have been obtained.

The relation noise - annoyance (here referring broadly to all negative emotional reactions to noise) has been discussed extensively (e.g. Department of Transport and Regional Services, 2000; Flindell and Stallen, 1999; Flindell and Witter, 1999; Fidell, Silvati and Haboly, 2002; Guski, 1999; Stallen, 1999; Vogt and Kastner, 2000) as well as various factors influencing the relation of noise and complaint (Lercher, 1996). Research also has dealt with annoyance generation, its mediating factors (Flindell and Stallen, 1999; Flindell and Witter, 1999; Guski, 1999; Job, 1999), as well as with its reduction (Haugg, 2002; Haugg, Maziul and Vogt, 2003; Maziul, 2002; Maziul and Vogt, 2002; Vogt, Haugg, Kastner, 2001). Many approaches, which try to explain the various relations and their moderators, have been published. Yet, research lacks reliable knowledge on noise complaints itself as there is only a limited and even controversial understanding of complaint behaviour. Little effort has so far been made to scientifically evaluate complaint data (Hume, Gregg, Thomas and Terranova, 2003).

Literature that structures and assesses the existing knowledge about approaches dealing with the complaint data as such is missing. This paper attempts to do so by discussing and trying to answer the following four questions:

Which factors lead annoyed residents to complain about aircraft noise or related issues?Which factors keep annoyed residents from complaining?Are the existing ways to handle annoyance adequate and efficient (e.g. keeping track of complaints, reaction to complaints, kinds of complaint services)?Which are new ways to handle annoyance adequately and efficiently?

 Complaint data and annoyance - do they coincide?

Complaint data are often used as an index of annoyance. An accurate index would require a 100% explanation of complaint behavior on the basis of annoyance. However, Staples (1996) reports about the failure to predict public response in the New York metropolitan area. The author furthermore stresses the importance to understand annoyance not only for the purpose to be better able to predict public response, but also to identify groups of people, who might need special protection from noise. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the individual differences (e.g. noise sensitivity, negative affectivity, perceived threat, personal control) and the mediating psychological factors. Staples (1996) also highlights the influence of socio­cultural as well as contextual factors such as the past experience.

Annoyance often leads to public action in terms of calling a noise complaint line, a local environmental organization, or lodging a complaint via the internet, yet there are intervening factors that determine the relation between annoyance and actual complaint behavior as shown in early and recent studies: Already Avery (1982) reports surveys conducted in Sweden, Great Britain, and the USA showing less than 10 % of the respective population complain to public authorities. In Avery's study 21% of the entire sample were bothered by noise; 60% of one particular municipality (Leichhardt) were bothered "a great deal" or "slightly" by too much noise. Yet, only 2% of the entire sample complained to the state's pollution commission.

A recent Dutch study again showed that only a small percentage of annoyed citizens actually take action and lodge a complaint: Of 1882 highly annoyed respondents only 19 % complained about aircraft noise to an independent committee at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) (van Wiechen, Franssen, de Jong and Lebret, 2002). In the Brisbane community noise survey Henry and Huson (2003) showed that 66 % of the people reporting to be seriously affected by noise did not complain. The major reason for not complaining was residents reckoning "there was nothing that could or would be done about the noise".

Hume, Terranova, Thomas and Gregg (2001) conducted studies at Manchester Airport and found again a comparatively low number of residents responding to disturbance by complaining to the airport management. Apparently, the majority of aircraft movements do not cause any behavioral response from the community. The authors stress that this finding does not imply there is neither disturbance nor annoyance. Contrarily, they assume the low complaint levels to be most likely an indication of inadequate coping strategies (cf. section "Complaining = Coping with Noise") of a particular group of individuals in the community. They further assume, that those who are not coping well with the aircraft noise, are only the "tip of the iceberg" being the much bigger group uncovered in surveys. Apparently, a large number of residents is annoyed by noise, yet many of them do not complain because they feel that nothing can be done about the noise or that residents just have to put up with the noise.

Obviously, the number of complainants - and therefore complaint data - does not reflect noise annoyance in the surroundings of airports to the full extent. In order to establish the usefulness of complaint data as an index of annoyance, intervening factors need to be identified.

 Which factors lead annoyed residents to complain about aircraft noise or related issues? Which factors keep annoyed residents from complaining?

Complaints do not solely depend on noise levels as we can tell from the fact that residents living even in almost aircraft noise free areas also lodge complaints about aircraft noise. Apparently, moderator variables influence the annoyance (Wirth, Brink and Schirz, 2003). The expectation of a noise increase in a low noise area is considered as one moderator. This expectation resulted in more adverse physiological responses at Sydney Airport (Hatfield, Job, Carter, Peploe, Taylor and Morrell, 1998). Contrarily, people exposed to very high levels for example 70 dB(A) daytime Leq or higher do not complain e. g. because they work in the aviation industry (Vogt and Kastner, 1999). Therefore, noise levels per se cannot be classified as the crucial factor for complaining or not complaining.

 Complaining = Coping with Noise?!

In order to understand the moderating mechanisms between annoyance and complaining the concept of complaining will be dealt with in the next section.

According to the Lazarus' transactional stress theory (Lazarus, 1991; Lazarus and Folkman, 1984), stress is a consequence of a person's inability to effectively cope with demands from the environment. Central to the coping concept is the belief of the person to successfully manage the situation. The feeling of having sufficient coping strategies is based upon the appraisal of a situation and their own coping strategies and therefore reduces the effects (stress) caused by this situation (e.g. noise). Coping strategies comprise direct (e.g. turning off noise source, shutting windows) as well as indirect ways (e.g. via cognitive control - who causes the noise and when will it end).

Complaining can be viewed as one way to cope with noise and its resulting annoyance. It is one aspect of a spectrum of responses (van Wiechen, Franssen, de Jong and Lebret, 2002). Hume, Morley, Terranova, and Thomas (2002) consider complaining as the probably most frequent and immediate form of opposition as it is the easiest way to express someone's concern.

In scientific surveys coping behavior is operationalised by asking residents about their reaction to noise annoyance, whether they have thought about complaining or already have complained once or several times. They are also questioned about other possible reactions to deal with noise annoyance, like moving to a different area, contacting a lawyer, joining an action group, speaking to those responsible for the noise, closing doors and windows more carefully because of the noise, re-arranging their rooms, or improving insulation of the house (Botteldooren, Lercher and Verkeyn, 2003).

Botteldooren, Lercher and Verkeyn (2003) revealed exposure to noise as a primary trigger for coping, but they also determined personal and situational factors as influential on the type and intensity of the coping behaviour. They state that "noise creates the possibility that a person is coping, but does not predict the act itself".

The importance of adequate coping mechanisms in the context of noise is stressed by a German study that shows a reduction in blood pressure after the usage of a noise complaint line (Vogtand Kastner, 2000). Yet, unsuccessful coping might even increase annoyance (Botteldooren, Lercher and Verkeyn, 2003). This result should be considered when operating noise complaint lines. Annoyed residents trying to cope by calling the noise complaint line, who feel not sufficiently treated, might even become more annoyed. Luz, Raspet and Schomer (1983) point out similar recommendations. Their analysis highlights the importance of responding to complainants and to be precise the first time they complain. Their data show that first-time complainants are generally courteous and reasonable, whereas complainants become unreasonable after having been ignored. Therefore, it is mandatory to deal with complainants' first complaint. This way both, residents and authorities/airport management, gain from the procedure.

Complaint data and its Relations

In order to value the usefulness of complaint data as an index of annoyance the relation between complaint data and annoyance ought to be examined. As mentioned above, it is important to differentiate between the complaint behavior of a community and their overall annoyance (Cohen and Weinstein, 1981) as complaints come from residents of highly affected areas as well as from barely affected ones. Moreover, there has been an ongoing controversy on how far or if at all complaints are related to noise levels. In some studies (Gillen and Levesque, 1994; Stockbridge and Lee, 1973) it is concluded that complaints are closely related to noise exposure by aircraft, whereas in contrast other researchers (Borsky, 1979; Bronzaft, Ahern, McGinn, O´Connor, Savino, 1998; Luz et al., 1983) state that noise complaints do not sufficiently measure the community response to aircraft noise pollution and therefore do not adequately describe this environmental problem. Luz et al. (1983) also claim that administrators and public officials "often cite the presence or absence of complaints to `prove´ that an adverse noise environment does or does not exist" even though complaints do not appear to be a good measure of the community response.

The relation between complaints and their possible reasons (noise levels, annoyance) is still discussed controversially in the literature. Further, it needs to be kept in mind that the usage of noise levels (e.g. day-night-level) to adequately describe annoyance is questionable in the first place. This becomes especially apparent when air routes are introduced into formerly noise free areas. In these cases it is often found that residents complain in a way it would not have been expected with these particular noise levels. The people's reaction could be considered as over-energetic (Hoger, 1999; Guski, 1999). Studies conducted at Sydney and Vancouver Airports point in a similar direction: The mere expectation of a change in noise levels affects annoyance - without an objective change in noise levels (Hatfield, Job, Carter, Peploe, Taylor and Morrell, 2001). At Vancouver Airport it was found that after the introduction of a new runway annoyance was much higher than it would have been expected considering the actual noise levels (Fidell, Silvati and Haboly, 2002).

Characteristics of Complainers and Non-­Complainers

In the following section characteristics of people who complain and who do not will be described to be able to derive determining factors of complaint behaviour.

Already in one of the first Heathrow studies complainants are described as e.g. better educated and holding higher status jobs than non-complainants (McKennell, 1973). Also in an early North American study complainers differed from non-complainers in education, the value of their home and membership in organizations. Consequently, complainers are not viewed as representative of their community (Tracor, 1970). With regards to these findings, complaint behaviour cannot be accepted as an accurate measure of public annoyance, as it is argued that it is not because people with more education and higher occupational status tend to be more annoyed, but because these people are more likely to feel that their complaints will be listened to.

Similar results can be derived from a recent British study (Morley and Hume, 2003): Complainants tend to be drawn from a higher socio-economic status, to live in more expensive houses and to have more than two cars. As the relationship between annoyance and complaints is highly complex, one cannot conclude that the socio-economic status determines the level of annoyance. Yet, it seems reasonable to state that people with a higher status are more likely to express this annoyance by complaining. This view is supported by previous work (Guski, 1977; Miedema and Vos, 1999; Stockbridge and Lee, 1973). It has generally been found that persons, who are older, better educated, have higher income and higher social status, are more prone to express their feelings by the means of complaints and are more often members of an environmental organization than people who do not complain (Borsky, 1979; Guski, 1977; van Wiechen, Franssen, de Jong and Lebret, 2002). Van Wiechen, Franssen, de Jong and Lebret (2002) compared the residential groups of complainers and non-complainers. In contrast to non-complainants residents who lodged complaints reported:

more noise annoyance,more sleep disturbance,more concern about health, andmore fear of an aircraft crash (see also: van Wiechen, Houthuijs and Heisterkamp, 2003).

Complainants also took more often action due to the noise annoyance than non-complainants (43 vs. 6 %) in terms of signing petitions, attending public meetings, and demonstrations etc.

A comparison of 'highly annoyed' complainants with 'highly annoyed' non-complainants revealed that complainants are still more often highly disturbed in the sleep and reported more concern about health, whereas the former difference in noise sensitivity disappeared (van Wiechen, Houthuijs and Heisterkamp, 2003).

In a recent Swiss study (Wirth, Brink and Schirz, 2003), the question at issue was, why there are highly annoyed persons in areas with no or only little aircraft noise, and why are there not annoyed residents in areas with high aircraft noise. A group of sensitive 1 residents and a group of unconcerned 2 citizens were compared. The most important differences between these extreme groups and the entire sample were the following:

62% of the unconcerned residents have noise insulation windows,22% of the unconcerned are working in the air traffic sector,100% of the sensitives, but only 32% of the unconcerned and 66% of the whole sample want politicians to pay attention to quietness/environment issues rather than the economy,the sensitives' average in noise sensitivity was 5.4 on a 10-point scale, the unconcerned rated a mean of 2.9 and the whole sample 4.2,the sensitives travelled by plane 1.9 times per year, the unconcerned 14 times, the whole sample 3.6 times.

The results of Wirth, Brink and Schirz (2003) reflect the role of moderator variables, such as the affiliation with air traffic (22% of the people, who were considered unconcerned, worked in this sector) and the importance of personal differences, such as the noise sensitivity. The difference of unconcerned and sensitives regarding their annoyance is also moderated by their demand on politicians: all sensitives wished that politicians paid attention to the issue of noise and environment, whereas only 32% of the unconcerned mentioned this preference.

Serial complainers

Another issue that needs to be considered when valuing the usefulness of complaint data is the growing number of serial complainers, as their number influences the data. In the majority of cases, people only complain once or a few times, whereas some individuals lodge hundreds of complaints. Studies revealed an increasing number of so called serial complainants: residents complaining not only once, but several times (Hume, Morley, Terranova and Thomas, 2002; Hume, Terranova, Thomas and Gregg, 2001; van Wiechen et al., 2002). Complaint data at Heathrow Airport (Flindell and Witter, 1999) show a decreasing number of callers, but an increasing number of enquiries and incidents reported by them. At Manchester Airport (Hume et al., 2001) 594 individuals lodged the total of 2072 noise complaints. While most of the individuals complained once or twice, three individuals accounted for 41% of all complaints. Hume et al. (2002) had a closer look at the role of serial complainers. They aimed at determining, if serial complainers would bias the overall complaint data. In order to do so, the data sets at hand were re-analysed. The authors found a difference in the circadian pattern: Where serial-complainers complained more in the late evening and early night, residents complaining just once did so more evenly across the night. Moreover, characteristics of the individual serial complainers are described as follows:

Serial complainer one was a middle-aged man and well educated. He lodged a list of complaints with a covering letter for every six month period.Serial complainer two was a man with an articulate language indicating again a good education. He wrote a lengthy list of complaints with a lengthy cover letter stating that he was mainly annoyed by the aircraft take-offs, which caused to miss something on TV, interrupted conversation, awakened, or prevented him from sleeping altogether.Serial complainer three lodged complaints mainly via letter revealing an articulate language and indicating a good education. The letters referred to single aircrafts causing annoyance as well as to a second runway.

Regarding the temporal patterns, serial­ complainers' data showed a similar picture with increased annoyance in the early night and early morning. In contrast, residents calling fewer times (non-serials) were annoyed throughout the night and suffered from acute annoyance. Once serial complainers are awake, they continue to complain and therefore the authors consider them as chronically annoyed.

Further investigations endorse earlier findings (e.g. Borsky, 1979) about the socio-economic status of serial complainers: All serials in the study of Hume et al. (2002) were male and belonged to the wealthiest status category. Also, they all seemed well educated.

This also means serial complainers are not representative in terms of education and wealth. The findings need to be further investigated, as they may indicate serial complainers' higher susceptibility to noise or different coping mechanisms for such stressors.

The group of serial complainers needs to be considered when valuing the usefulness of complaint data, as this group accounts for a large percentage of complaints. The group is not representative. It is important to bear this aspect in mind when handling complaint data and when establishing new ways to deal with annoyance adequately, as the group of serial complainants is not representative.

Determination Factors for Complaint Behaviour - Feasibility Factors

Understanding the motivation behind complaints is linked with great difficulties as many factors come into play to determine who is annoyed and if that annoyance finds expression as a complaint to the airport or to official authorities.

Borsky (1979) defined complaining as a function of many factors:

Knowing where to complainBelieving that the complaint might be effectiveConfidence in one's ability to deal with authoritiesPast complaint experience

Low effectiveness (in terms of the complaint will have no consequences whatsoever or the noise itself will not change) and a low expectancy of success (either there is nothing to be done about the noise or if there is, authorities will still not do it) seem to be crucial factors as mentioned in all the reviewed literature. In the Brisbane community noise survey, 66% of the people reporting to be seriously affected by noise did not complain with the major reason that they considered there was nothing that could or would be done about the noise (Henry and Huson, 2003). Avery (1982) quotes this reason for 31% of the people. A social survey reported by Hume and Thomas (1993) indicated that many individuals cope or 'put-up-with' the disturbance, rather than complain, because they assumed that their complaint would not significantly change the airport's operations. Also, in a more recent study, van Wiechen et al. (2002) indicate the low expectation of success as a major reason for the disparity between underlying feelings of annoyance and actual complaint behaviour. Borsky (1979) thought people only would complain to public authorities about noises, which they believed the authority to have influence on. Avery (1982) reported besides other reasons for residents not having telephoned to complain about noise that they are not sufficiently annoyed by the noise. The author also reports that 16 % percent of the people did not know about the service. In a German study the group of people not knowing about the service comprised over 80% (Haugg, 2002). Van Wiechen et al. (2002) point out (apart from noise levels) noise annoyance, sleep disturbance, concern about health, and fear for aircraft crashes. Hume et al. (2003) mention that complaints depend partly on the time of day that noise occurred; owning a house is also considered as one crucial factor for complaining. Levels of complaints are also dependent on the way different airports deal with noise complaints (differences in the efficacy of systems, community awareness) and how busy individuals are (Hume et al., 2003). Being busy might keep the residents from actually complaining and also draws the attention away from aircraft noise. Hume et al. (2003) revealed significant night-time sensitivity: Late evening, night-time, and early morning noise generate the most complaints because of the reasonable expectation "that individuals in their own homes could expect to be allowed a good nights sleep".

Determination Factors for Complaint Behaviour - Personal Factors

Individual differences and personal thresholds apply to aircraft noise as to all stressors in general. Differences in the response to noise and the threshold for being sufficiently annoyed to complain directly to the airport therefore vary considerably (Job, 1996). The individual threshold already constitutes one factor to determine the relationship between annoyance and complaint behaviour. The status of being sufficiently annoyed to be at one's threshold to complain also depends on the overall status of the person: If an individual is already stressed due to other reasons than noise, aircraft disturbances might be experienced as more annoying than usual and therefore the person is more likely to lodge a complaint.

To explain - at least partly - variance in people's annoyance reaction Weinstein (1980) defined a so called critical-uncritical dimension. He found this dimension to explain 32 % of the variability. Some people judge their entire surrounding (not only noise) more critical than others. The author stresses that critical people are not necessarily indiscriminate complainers. It rather seems that less critical residents have the tendency to generally complain. People scoring higher in the critical dimension gave more differentiated judgment, according to Weinstein's findings. The author sums up that there is no support for the notion that environmental critics are chronic complainers, whose opinions should be disregarded. Weinstein puts forward that people at different ends of the critical-uncritical dimension do not really feel differently about their neighborhood, but do differ in their willingness to express criticisms in the context of a door-to-door interview.

With the concept of "negative affectivity" Winneke, Neuf and Steinheider (1996) show a similar train of thought. Negative affectivity is defined as generalised tendency to complain and to express discomfort any time and across situations. It is strongly correlated with personality traits, such as trait anxiety, neuroticism, and repression sensitisation (which was not found to be true for trait annoyance). Yet, German studies ( ) revealed that residents actually using a noise complaint line (and therefore complaining and expressing their annoyance), have an advantage in respect to anger expression and consequently in coping with stress. This leads back to the Lazarus transactional stress theory (Lazarus, 1991) mentioned earlier in the article. Having the feeling of sufficient coping strategies (with complaining being one of them), the negative effects of noise and the resulting annoyance can be reduced by the means of a re-appraisal.

Staples (1996) stresses the importance not to use negative affectivity as a single concept, as the correlation with general annoyance and anxiety is not clearly proven. The author calls for a differentiation of noise as personally distressing and noise as a noxious environmental quality and hereby includes socio-cultural and contextual factors in the discussion.

The ongoing controversy on the relation between annoyance and complaint behaviour seems not resolved yet. However, with reference to the findings mentioned above, complaint behaviour seems to be influenced by and dependent on various aspects as summarized in [Table 1]. Complaint data consequently cannot be accepted as an accurate measure of public annoyance.

 Adequate and efficient ways to handle annoyance?!

Complaining apparently is just one of the many ways to respond to and cope with noise and annoyance. Still it can be considered as a quite frequent and immediate form of opposition. Yet, where there are other ways to react to noise, complaint data do not reflect communities' overall annoyance to the full extend. This finds support in several studies revealing that only a limited number of highly annoyed airport residents actually take action by complaining to a noise complaint line.

Complaint data seem not to be an exact measure of the annoyance status of airport communities. Consequently, complaint data should not be used as an argument for or against further airport extensions. However, they should be used to identify the most important noise problems. Thus, they can be implemented in a continuous discussion and development of noise abatement. Apart from the physical effects of reducing e. g. noise during the evening, night, and early morning, they have the invaluable psychological benefit of enabling the residents to participate in and contribute to the development of their environment.

Nevertheless, other ways to complement complaint data have to be developed. It has to be assumed that the large number of annoyed residents, who do not call a noise complaint line, either cope differently or do not cope at all. Therefore, further investigation is called for in which way these residents handle their annoyance and what might actually help them to cope. In order to establish new ways representative social surveys or personal interviews could be conducted to address all residents and find out their preferences. Also, the residents' concern relating to the successfulness and efficiency of noise complaint lines needs to be considered. Annoyed residents trying to cope by calling the noise complaint line and feeling insufficiently treated might even become more annoyed. It is important when operating noise complaint lines to respond to complainants at once and to be precise at all times, especially the first time people complain.

For both, complaints and noise managers, it is desirable to deal with complainants' first complaint rather than dealing with community action at a later point. This way both, residents and authorities/airport management, gain from the complaint procedure. Airport managements should address the issue of successfulness and efficiency of noise complaint lines by the means of transparency and an open information policy (Vogt and Kastner, 1999; Vogt and Kastner, 2000).


This work was supported by a research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - DAAD).[47]


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