What is a codeshare agreement and why is it important when claiming EU261/2004 compensation?

A codeshare agreement, is an aviation business arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight. Sharing, means that each airline publishes and markets the flight under its own airline designator and flight number as part of its published timetable or schedule. A seat can be purchased under each airline’s designator and flight number, but is operated by only one of these cooperating airlines.

So, if airline A has a code-share agreement with airline B, your ticket from Airline “A” but the flight is provided by Airline “ B”.

Why do Airlines want to share flights?

This allows Airlines to earn commission on flights operated by other Airlines and appear to have a much wider reach. The Operating Airline can market its flights through other Airlines increasing the possibility of selling more tickets.

Any perks for the passenger? Not really. The biggest problem with codesharing is that passengers don’t know about it. To the average air traveler, codesharing seems counterintuitive, if not dishonest. When they receive their itinerary, they don’t notice the “operated by” language, often rendered in fine print, that discloses their Airline A flight to say Frankfurt is actually operated by Airline B under a  codeshare agreement. Sometimes they’re dropped off at the wrong terminal, but more often, they arrive at the airport expecting one flying experience but receiving another.

Source – ‘Why airline codesharing must die’ – USA Today

The Operating Airline.

It is key to know who is the Operating Airline sometimes known the Administering Airline.  An Operating Airline provides the aircraft, has the airport slot operational permissions and ground handling staff. The Airline selling the ticket but not operating the flight is known as the Marketing Airline. Most major Airlines have code-sharing agreements and this an important part of Airline alliances.

When a flight is sold under several designators (flight numbers) the flight number published by the Operating carrier is known as the Prime Flight Number.

An example of a major Code-sharing agreements is the Star Alliance with approximately 27 members including Lufthansa, SAS and Swiss Air.

Claiming Compensation? Check your flight a code share.

Code-sharing agreements are important when claiming under EU Regulation 261/2004 as it is a precondition to claiming when flying into an EU country from out side an EU country that:

  • The flight is delayed by more than three hours
  • The operating carrier is registered in the EU.

If for example, you have purchased a ticket to fly into the EU from the USA do you need to have purchased the ticket from an EU carrier? – the answer is No but the Operating carrier must be an EU registered carrier.

So be careful to note your ticket and check who operated the flight because if you are flying into the EU from outside you can only claim compensation if the flight was operated by a registered EU carrier. 

It’s the small code-share print “operated by…” that can mean a refund of up to 600 Euros, so it’s worth paying attention to this detail.

At Flight Delay Pay we recommend when filing your claim that a copy of the booking confirmation or boarding card is also supplied so that we can check who is the Operating carrier and make the claim against the correct Airline.

Remember it is the metal that you fly in that is important when making EU261/2004 claim.