Your flight angels

Jakub Ladra, CEO

“On behalf of American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Cathay Pacific, I would like to welcome you on board of the flight to London.” How many times have you heard such welcome message from a flight attendant and wondering why so many airlines are involved when there is just one aircraft preparing to take off? In fact, it’s nothing extraordinary within the aviation industry and it’s called a codeshare agreement or simply just codeshare. Let me tell you what benefits it brings you and what you should be aware of.

What is codeshare?

Although it might look quite confusing at first sight, codeshare is a simple business agreement between two or more airlines which allows them to sell tickets for the same flight under their own flight numbers (codes). The term “code” refers to the identifier used in flight schedule, generally the two-character IATA airline designator followed by a flight number (e.g. AF 390 that refers to the flight of Air France).

There is always an airline who actually operates the flight (the one providing an aircraft with a crew) and is surprisingly called an operating carrier. On the other side, there is one or more airlines that sell their own tickets for that flight but don’t operate it. These airlines are designated as marketing carriers.

Still confused? I’ll give you real example. There exists a flight from New York to London, operated by British Airways under the flight number BA0112 (operating carrier), which can also be sold by American Airlines (marketing carrier) under the flight number AA6133. It is always the same flight with the same aircraft of British Airways and what I found the most interesting (or weird) is the fact that American Airlines is more expensive by more than $600 – it reminds me of the importance of flight search engines (my favourite ones are Kayak and Skyscanner so give them a try).

Why do airlines do that?

You probably guess that codesharing is one of the core feature of airline alliances cooperation. In other words, codesharing is one of the major reason why smaller airlines want and more accurately need to be part of either Star Alliance, SkyTeam or Oneworld.

Airlines share their codes either in order to virtually expand their network (they can pretend that they fly all over the world but in fact they operate only few aircrafts within Europe) or to enhance the frequency of flights on the same route (they combine their operating and marketing flights on the same route).

As a result, airlines achieve higher reputation because their codes are being displayed worldwide. Operating carriers also have better payload factor thanks to multiple selling points all over other airlines’ websites – unfortunately for you, it means higher probability of being squeezed in a middle seat.

Codesharing has many advantages for airlines but I am perfectly sure you are much more curious about benefits that can affect your own travel experience. Let’s have a look at them.

What benefits does codesharing bring to passengers?

Every single benefit comes from airlines’ extensive flight network. You can easily travel all around the world with just one single airline (more precisely under one airline’s code). It means that you can choose from variety of destinations, departure times and because airlines share next to the code also some operational costs, flight tickets can get cheaper. On the other hand, if codesharing airlines dominates the route and eliminate their competitors, prices can significantly increase so the advantage of price vary from route to route.

Codesharing also forces airlines to adjust their flight schedules in order to synchronize their arrivals and departures so flying becomes much more time-effective. Moreover they are able to tweak their luggage handling procedures so your transfer can be as smooth as possible – if they don’t tweak it successfully and your luggage gets delayed or lost, check out our earlier post about luggage delays.

Last but not least, codesharing has a huge impact on your frequent flier account because it allows you to fill single account with miles flown on several different carriers. Just think twice before every booking to get the most of your journey.

How to recognize codeshare flight?

A very first moment you can notice that your flight is operated by another carrier than you initially expected is during your booking. I checked several websites of major airlines and there was always specified who operates the flight.

You can also see it on your flight ticket. If your flight is codeshared, there will be written something like “OPERATED BY…” right under your own flight number. It’s a clear sign that your airline is the marketing carrier.

Because I know that many of our blog readers are aspiring aviation experts, I’ll give you one last and most advanced tip. Remember how I wrote about flight numbers above? So if there is a 4-digit number which starts with a number higher than 1 (e.g. AF 4600), the probability of successful revelation of codeshared marketing flight is pretty high.

Who is responsible for flight irregularities?

You know, our app is about flight compensations and since I was asked during my last Twitter Q&A session a question about responsibilities of both operating and marketing carriers, I just simply want to make it clear enough for all of our readers right now.

So, who you should claim to when your flight gets delayed, cancelled, your baggage gets lost or you are bumped off of the flight? Marketing airline? Operating airline? My answer is – once your flight is covered by the legislation, you can claim to whoever you want. That’s another advantage of codeshare – both operating and marketing carriers share their responsibilities and whoever you choose to claim to, they must pay attention to your complaint.

However, there is another bad airlines’ common practice you should be aware of. Once you claim your rights to operating carrier whilst you had previously entered a contract with marketing carrier, you could be quickly wrongfully rejected by the operating carrier with an explanation that only marketing carrier is responsible because of your agreement. Sometimes it’s like fighting with windmills so my recommendation is to claim your rights to the airline you entered a contract with. According to the statistics, the amount of rejections is lower if you accomplish it this way so your complaint can be at least processed faster.

There is a very important thing you should keep in mind during a booking of your next flight. The Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 states that all outbound EU flights as well as all inbound EU flights OPERATED by EU-based airlines are covered. The word “operated” is here in tight relation to codesharing issues and I am sure you realized its importance just now. If you buy the above mentioned flight from New York to London from American Airlines, which is the marketing carrier and apparently isn’t EU-based, you are still entitled to possible compensations because the flight is operated by British Airways. Therefore, you should always pay attention to this rule during your future bookings and always check which airline operates the flight as you may find out that your journey is worth up to EUR 600 compensation.

I hope you found today’s post interesting and as usually, I would be very happy if you leave me your opinion or share your own experience through comments.

  • Alison Stephens

    Hi, I need some advice please. We booked a flight with BA from Los Angeles to Manchester (via London Heathrow). The LA to Heathrow leg was operated by American Airlines although we have a BA ticket number. We missed our Heathrow to Manchester connection and neither BA or AA are admitting liability. AA have given us $1000 apology in travel vouchers but say they are not liable for compensation as they are not EU based. My argument is that I bought a BA ticket and they are operating a flight on behalf of an EU airline and are codesharing through their OneWorld Alliance. Lots of emails going back and forth between me and AA. Is it worth pursuing this as they are adamant that they are not liable. Advice please

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hello Alison,
      The key information is if AA was an operating carrier or not. If not, then it’s not covered by regulation 261 EC and so the 1k voucher would be probably the best you can get. You can verify it on flightstats.com for example. There could be a possibility to get refunded your costs spent on the alternative flight (if you had to pay it on your own costs) via Montreal Convention and its Article 19. Jakub

  • Andy Rhodes

    Hi Jakub, wonder if your expertise can help me…

    I recently flew from Australia PER to Italy FCO via DBX (5th July). My bag was delayed in DBX and I eventually received it 10 days later in Scotland. I’m having trouble getting sense out of Qantas and Emirates. Flights booked on points with Qantas but carrier was Emirates.

    During those 10 days I had to buy clothes for hot beach weather in Italy, France, and had to waste time visiting doctors to get my partner medication that was in the delayed case. I also had to hire a Scottish Kilt for my university Graduation (mine was in the delayed case) not to mention the time and money spent calling the delayed baggage AlItalia staff in Rome (they mixed up addresses).

    Return flight from GLA to KUL – I was charged 420GBP for 10kg’s excess baggage due to the extra case I had to get to take the additional clothes – despite my partner having no carry-on. It then took Emirates 1.5hrs to get that 3rd case off the plane by which time i missed my Air Asia connecting flight to PER. We had to pay AU$330 for new flights 9 hours later which were not business class that I had received as a gift for graduation

    Qantas passed the buck to Emirates but Emirates are not responding to emails (customer.affairsuk@emirates.com) from an address i was given in Glasgow. I’ve chased Qantas again after reading this article – thank you.

    Do you have any advice?!

    • Hi Andy, this really sounds like a nightmare! Thanks for sharing your story with us. You should definitely be compensated both for baggage mishandling (and related expenses) and your extra expenses during the return flight. It is the best if you can prove all expenses with relevant receipts / invoices. I believe that the email address to Emirates is correct, but not responding to your messages is just a common practice of major airlines. I would really like our team to mediate your case for you to help you get what you certainly deserve… just reply to this message or register your case through our website. And congrats for the graduation 🙂 Jakub

    • ohh, I forgot to confirm that both operating (Emirates) and marketing (Qantas) carriers are mutually liable – we would pick the carrier you did the booking with first. Jakub

  • ingie bingie

    bought china air ticket amsterdam bangkok,, at the china air check in service dest the women tore my passport, i was told i couldn’t fly. the women supposedly a k.l.m agent that ripped my passport wouldn’t identify herself, she confessed to the police she ripped my passport, as i could be overstay. they refused to write a report. i dragged my bags back to my last accommodation, by train, bus. got a emergency passport the next day, and on the 3rd day returned to the airport to rebook my flight . i asked for a upgrade and was denied saying it wasn’t policy, waited for more money to make the transit and on my final day of legality in europe 5 days later went back to the airport to leave, i asked to be compensated for my emergency passport and had the receipt. although the china air women had a blank check and photo copied my documents she refused to make a check out and told me that i should get the money from k.l.m? she was also rude to me and incompetent stating that she might lose my photo copies. as i paid china air are they not my provider and the k.lm agent hired by china air representing china air, what is her job, as i paid them why do i need to go to k.lm? is this correct of a runaround of bullshit, ? i contacted the e-mail the china air gave me and i told them i wanted my ticket money back to my credit card,, they said they would give me 150$ in vouchers to have all this fun again without compensating me for the problems they caused me, i became angry and called them assholes and tid bit goofball, and idiots.. and that i would prefer to continue a online assault .. who is liable?

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hello Ingie, firstly I must say that this issue is quite out of scope of our services. To me it seems reasonable to claim this damage to China Air as you have mentioned it was basically the their employee who has caused the damage. However, I haven’t found any leverage to use in your favor, so it will depends on how far you are willing to negotiate with the airline. Hope it helps at least a little bit and wish you good luck!

  • tejus datta

    Hi Jakub,
    I had a flight booked via BA for LAX-LHR-BLR with a stop over at London of a few days.
    My flight from LAX-LHR was cancelled (BA 1540) but apparently it was operated by AA. When I booked, the booking confirmation never mentioned that it was a code shared flight. When I checked with BA, they declined by request for compensation as they said they are not the operating airline. Is there anything I can do?

    Tejus Datta

    • Hi Tejus, thanks for your comment. Well, the codeshare information was most probably mentioned before your final confirmation – I think that booking platforms are obliged to inform buyers about this information. Regarding your entitlement to the compensation, it’s true that the flight would have to be operated by the EU-based airline (BA in your case) in order to get the compensation based on the EU regulation. Another option is to claim compensations based on the Montreal Convention – but you have to prove extra expenses that occurred due to the cancellation of the flight. Let me know if we can help you claim it this way. Thank you, Jakub

  • Ashok

    Hi, I recently flew from Dallas to Chennai via Newark and London. The entire ticket was marketed by British airways : BA 2511 – Dallas to Newark, BA 188- Newark to London, BA35- London to Chennai. My flight from Dallas to Newark was delayed by more than 3 hours, hence I missed my connecting flight BA188 to London. I was re booked on Flight BA 188 the next day ( delayed by 24 hours at Newark ) with a connecting flight booking in BA35 to Chennai.When I claimed compensation with BA , they said that BA 2511 is not operated by BA ( Though the flight schedule at Dallas Airport mentions that BA 2511 Departs at 13.05 Hrs ) and requested me to claim from American airlines. What should I do?

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hello Ashok, this is a classic codeshare issue. It is usual to see one flight marketed as even 5 or more airlines. However, the truth is that the operating carrier is the only one responsible – and thus by the operating carrier it determines whether or not there is an entitlement for a compensation, under the regulation 261 for example. Hope it helps at least a bit 🙂

  • Jeff Kraft

    Hey Jakub,

    Recently flew on an Iberian flight from barcelona to krakow. Marketed by Iberia (and who I bought tickets through) and operated by Vueling. Paid extra for seat assignments but when we got to the gate, they said sit where you’d like which we thought strange. I also noticed that the plane and crew were branded from Evelop! which appears to be a contract airline. About 40 minutes outside of krakow, we were told our plane was too big to land there and we were being instead landing at warsaw.

    We landed in warsaw 1 hour after our scheduled landing in krakow and then were bused for 4-5 hours to krakow. I feel like we’re due compensation but not sure if it’s under canceled flight since we never flew to our original destination or under delay since we eventually arrived at krakow at 530 am instead of 1030 pm the night before? Also, is vueling responsible sine they were the operating airline or evelop! since they actually flew it? Thanks.

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hi Jeff, thank you for your interesting question.
      Firstly, I have to mention that such a experience is very unprofessional from the airline and honestly I have never seen something similar before.
      To answer your question, operating carrier should be the one responsible for it. Also, I am pretty sure that the entitlement is due in your case, based on certain Judgments related to the regulation, the delay at the final destination is what matters. So, as your delay was about 7 hours I would consider this case as valid for making a claim. Let me know in case of any further questions and good luck with your claim! Jakub

  • Clive Williams

    Hi Jakub. I had flight bought through BA from Reno via Dallas and London to Manchester. The Dallas-London operated by AA was 3 hours late arriving in Heathrow. This caused us to miss the onward connection to Manchester operated by BA. BA rebooked me for the next day resulting in a 24 hour delay. Where do I stand with a claim? It was actually the Manchester leg that was unreasonably late.

    • Hi Clive, so sorry for my late response, I missed you comment. Since the delay occured on Dallas – London leg operated by American Airlines, there is no entitlement to compensation. It would have had to be operated by EU-based airline (e.g. British Airways). I hope it helps, although the outcome is not positive. Thanks, Jakub

  • Rob C

    Hi Jakub… I was recently bumped off a codeshare flight from YYZ to VIE. The operating carrier was OS and I bought the ticket through AC. As predicted OS is balking at compensation saying that the ticket was AC. I arrived over 8 hours after I should have arrived and given no money for meals etc.
    Should I go after AC for compensation, based on the EU agreement, and if yes should I quote this agreement in my letter.
    How would you approach this?

    Thank you,
    Rob C

    • Hi Rob, denied boarding issue is clearly regulated and the law states that it’s responsibility of an operating air carrier to provide you with appropriate compensation (regardless where you buy your flight ticket). I’d recommend you to insis on your claims and go after Austrian Airlines. Needless to mention, we’re ready to assist, just let us know. Thanks, Jakub

  • Tiksa

    A question:
    A USA-Germany flight, operated by LH, sold as UA. Cancelled because of LH strike.

    I recognize that the operating carrier, Lufthansa, is an EU carrier, and thus the flight is covered by EU regulations. The flight was cancelled because of a force majeure reason, a strike, and thus a passenger is entitled only to assistance (=hotels, meals), not compensation (=money for delay).

    However, there is one paragraph in EU Regulation No 261/2004 that is bit unclear.

    Article 3 (Scope), 1b states that rules are applied to flights to EU if they are operated by an EU carrier “unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country.”

    However, it does not say what is acceptable level of assistance that a passenger shall be given so that EU rules do not apply. Does it need to be equivalent to what EU rules require? Or would any assistance be enough?

    In this case EU rules define that the carrier shall provide meals and refreshment, and if necessary a hotel accommodation and transportation to there. UA’s own rules do not mandate any assistance for events outside of their control, however, let’s say they would give meal vouchers and arrange a discounted rate at a local hotel. Would this assistance be enough so that they can claim EU rules do not apply in this case?

  • Al M.

    Hi Jakub

    The second leg of our London-doha-kuala Lumpur flight was delayed by 5 hours. As it’s the second leg that was delayed, does that mean we’re not covered by the EU agreement for compensation? Thanks, Am.

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hello Am, thank you for your question. Assuming that second flight was operated by non-EU air carrier then yes, second leg wasn’t covered by EU legislation. Best, Jakub

  • Nuttylad

    I have recently been awarded 600 Euros flight delay compensation from KLM (I can not fault their service) and the money was paid into my employers bank account as the journey involved was for business and they paid for the ticket. The issue is that now my employer is telling me that I have no right to the compensation as I did not pay for the ticket and are refusing to give me the compensation. I always believed that EC 261/20004 was put in place to protect the passenger for their inconvenience and not the person that paid for the ticket. Could you clarify the situation for me. If I am entitled to the compensation where do I go from here? Thanks

    • Jakub Eliáš

      Hello Nuttylad, my answer is simple – you’re absolutely right. The regulation 261 of EC, clearly states that the entitlement is related to the passenger, not buyer. However, before making any further steps, make sure that you haven’t agreed with certain conditions of your company. For example, that in case of any compensation paid, you won’t be entitled to a compensation as your company paid for flight tickets. It may change the game quite significantly. Best, Jakub

      • Nuttylad

        Thanks for your reply, I have also done a bit of homework on this. I have been awarded the compensation by my employer.
        My employer could only claim this compensation if they had a clause in my employment contract stating that if if made a claim according to EU/EC 261/2004 that I would waver the right to the claim. I have also found out that Airlines are also obliged to pay this money into the accounts of the person that paid for the tickets, they can also contact you to verify this. they don’t want to get into the legal wranglings between employers and employees.
        The short of it is:
        If you don’t have a pre-written agreement between you and your employer……the person that makes the claim is entitled to the compensation.

        Cheers Jakub, and I ope that this information can be of use to others.

        • Jakub Eliáš

          I am glad you have managed it so well and thank you for sharing your process. I have one note, even though that airlines probably have something about to whom are obliged to pay the compensation, 261 is clear (presumably, airlines are assuming that buyer and passenger will be the same person). We faced multiple cases, where the compensation was paid directly to us (on passengers behalf) even though it was a business trip. Anyway, thanks and have a good day!

  • Maggie

    Would love a little advice with my situation. I purchased tickets through AA for flights operated by BA. My flight from LHR-PHL was cancelled by BA and I was rebooked (thanks to the help of an AA agent over the phone) to a flight the next day. Should I apply for compensation with BA since they are the operators? When I apply for my flight should I use the BA flight codes (which I have access to when I check in online with BA) or my AA flight codes since I originally booked my tickets through AA?

    • Kamila Z.

      Hi Maggie, Thank you for your question. The operating carrier is always responsible for flight disruptions which means that you can make a complaint through British Airways with their BA flight number. Also, I would like to recommend that is always better to send them a copy of boarding pass or booking. Hope it helps and let us know the results! 🙂 Kamila

  • Dlpinheiro

    Hi Jakub,

    I booked a flight with emirates from lisbon to Sydney. The flight from dubai to Sydney was operated by qantas and got delayed through mechanical problems for over 2 days. I had to stay in dubai for those 2 days. Emirates now tells me that I have to deal directly with qantas as it was their flight not emirates that got cancelled. Qantas says that they can only give me a letter stating what happened that I should then take to my travel insurance company. What can/should I do in this case? Thanks a lot

  • Yu E.

    Hi Jakub,
    I had a similar problem but confused by the EU rules, I bought my ticket in one trip by all KLM flights, via KLM official website, DUB-AMS-BSJ-DAL, of course, the last flight was codeshared with ( carried by CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINE), then the delay was in Beijing, finally arrived Dalian for more than 12 hours late. I checked with KLM, they refused to pay anything saying it was the fault of China Sothern Airline, but it was from inside EU to Outside EU and within one ticket with KLM flight NO. in this case, does it apply to the EU rules? Many thanks for your help. regards, Yu

  • cian

    Hi Jakub,
    I was wondering if you could help I’m not sure where I stand in regards the EU rules. I recently got turned down for compensation by KLM on a codeshare flight. I was flying from Chicago to Cork via Detroit and Amsterdam. The flight from Chicago to Detroit, operated by Delta was delayed, causing me to be rerouted from Detroit to Cork via Paris. In total it was a 5 hour delay. KLM have informed me that as the flight was operated by a US airline I’m not entitled to compensation. This is despite the fact all flights were purchased on the one ticket from the marketing airline KLM. Do I have any claim? Thanks for your help.

  • Wilmer Alexander Chavez

    Hello Jakub,
    I was looking for advice as to who I should file my claim to. I purchased my ticket from a Travel agent under British Airways (marketing airline), and my flight delay happened under the operating Airline (AA). Sold as BA1545, operated under flight AA 0109
    I was on a layover in Heathrow headed to LAX, we departed on time but had to make an emergency landing in Iceland. The landing was passenger related, but we weren’t given details. We had to fly back to Iceland (where we stayed on ground for about 3 hours). They re-routed us to NewYork. In short, we arrived to LA until 12 hours after the original time.

    Who should i be contacting about compensation?
    it is unclear because i can’t simply file online with AA because my document numbers don’t match their criteria.

  • Pushkar

    Hi Jakub,
    I booked the ticket with KLM for SFO-AMS-DEL while returning from Delhi their KLM’s code share airline Jet Airways charged me for excess baggage however KLM has free baggage allowance. Now KLM is saying they cannot refund as this is charged by Jet airways not by them. Please advise.

  • vijendra Agarwal

    se until I reached the other side. The officer had our belongings all over the table a if we were “criminals” but found nothing. He refused to call the supervisor and I was not allowed to take a photograph to prove my point of harassment, intimidation and just very rude behavior on the part of this officer. Could you please help passengers understand their rights; why photos are not allowed in the custom area, and where is the best place to file a complaint with some recourse.

  • Jordan Manchester

    Hi Claimair team! I booked flights with my family through the KLM
    website. On the e-ticket, it mentioned only KLM flight codes, not
    mentioning some of the flights were operated by Etihad Airlines, their
    codeshare partner. On the return journey, the first leg on Etihad was 12
    hours late, and I missed my connection which wouldve been on KLM – I
    was rebooked on Etihad and ended up getting back home to Europe (UK) 24 hours late! Both are passing the buck. Is there anything I can do or youd advise?

  • Jack Chui

    Hello Jakub. I was on a SKG-AMS-HKG flight on April 18. I bought the ticket from KLM. The first flight was a code-share flight operated by Transavia and the second was operated by KLM.

    The first flight was delayed, and I was not able to catch my connection flight, resulting seven hours delay in my case.

    Initially I started a claim on KLM but they are saying

    “Please kindly be informed that according to international Airlines Carriage Agreement, it is the operating carrier to handle all kind of requests for flight irregularity.

    Hence, I would advise you to kindly contact Transavia Airlines to submit your request.”

    Shall I continue to insist the claim on KLM or shall I turn to Transavia?


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