Airline or Airport?

Plane nose on runway

Airline or Airport…Who is responsible?

You might have questions about your travel experience. We’re here to help clarify who is responsible. The Airline or the Airport?


Among other things, the airlines are responsible for:

  • Selling tickets and determining the price of airfare
  • Flying airplanes
  • Cancelling and delaying flights
  • Updating the flight schedules displayed on screens at airports
  • Staffing the ticket counters and gates
  • Parking and pushing back airplanes at the terminal
  • Loading and unloading your baggage
  • Handling lost or damaged baggage
  • De-icing airplanes during winter weather
  • Maintaining and repairing airplanes
  • Deciding which routes will serve their network and which cities will get air service


The Airport operates and maintains the physical facility on the ground: the terminal, runways, taxiways, etc.…and the airport leases space to the airlines. Airport leases do not include airline performance standards because airlines won’t agree to them and the airlines hold all the cards in today’s landscape. The bottom line is airlines are responsible for how they conduct their business at the airport and in the air.

Why it Matters

Why tell you all this? Because often people think the airport is responsible for airline operations and customer service. Based on experience we know airline employees sometimes tell customers things like: “Ladies and gentleman, the airport de-icing crew is short staffed so we’re going to be delayed.” A more accurate statement would be: “Our de-icing crew is short staffed so we’re going to be delayed.”

From now on, when you hear statements like that, you’ll be the passenger who knows what’s really happening!

Even though the airport doesn’t control airline operations we (the airport) do try to exert influence. When we see poor performance, we bring it to the airline’s attention. We ask airline managers if there is something the airport can do to help. We clearly make the point that no one looks good when avoidable problems occur.

Having said all this, here’s a final thought…

Ultimately, if you want your comments to make a difference, please reach out directly to the responsible airline. If enough customers do, it can get the airline’s attention. And please know this: if the issue at hand really is an airport problem, we’ll be the first to say so and work diligently to correct the problem.


Below is the contact information for the airlines that serve Rochester International Airport:




(800) 433-7300

American Customer Service

American Twitter

American Facebook






(800) 221-1212

Delta Customer Service

Delta Twitter

Delta Facebook