Zum Inhalt

To whom should I address my claim as air passenger?

In the event of travel problems, you may have claims against an airline that are granted to you by the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulations or third countries. However, several airlines or booking platforms are often involved in providing the service. So who should I make the claim to?

Term ‘operating’ carrier

Flight ticket, boarding pass and passport
Flight documents provide information about the flight code and which airline is operating the flight Image: Pixeljoy / Shutterstock

It is becoming increasingly common for outbound and return flights, or even both flights, to be operated by an airline other than the one you booked with.

In the event of delays, it is always the operating air carrier that must be contacted with claims. Outbound and return flights are always regarded as two separate flights, even if they were booked together.

This may be the case if an airline leases the aircraft and staff of another airline (so-called ‘wet lease’) or if the airlines share a scheduled flight (so-called ‘code-sharing’) or if you have booked via a booking platform. To check whether the contractual airline and the operating airline are different, you can check the flight documents. The respective flight is usually labelled ‘operated by’ with the name of the respective airline.

You can also recognise which airline is the operating airline for the respective flight by the flight number (IATA code) consisting of 1-3 letters and 3-4 numbers (e.g. LH = Lufthansa, OS = Austrian Airlines, OE= Laudamotion etc.).
Attention: do not confuse the flight code with a booking code that you receive on a booking platform (e.g. Opodo or GoToGate). You can check flight numbers on this website.

Flight booked via platform

Even if you booked your flight with a booking platform (e.g. Opodo, GoToGate, Checkfelix, Flugladen, Skyscanner, Restplatzbörse, ab-in-den-Urlaub etc...), you must always address your claim to the operating airline.

During the corona pandemic or independently of it, airline passengers were often referred by airlines to platforms where the booking was made. Don't be sent round in circles, the airline is clearly responsible. In general, it is always advisable to book directly with airlines rather than via platforms. (Easier processing in the event of problems, fewer additional costs, clear contractual partner).

Light red pictogram shows a laptop with an aeroplane and several checkboxes in a list on the screen. One of them is ticked.

Booking platform used

Who can help me?

There are a number of profit-oriented air passenger rights portals (euflight, fairplane, flugrecht.de, ersatzpilot.de, flightright, flug-verspaetet.de, compensation2go, WkdF, Airhelp etc.) that will assert your claim against the airline on your behalf. Such ‘legal tech’ companies demand commissions of between a quarter and half of the value in dispute and generally only take on cases that are easy to resolve legally. In addition, the largest European airline Ryanair rejects claims by legal tech companies in its general terms and conditions.

This way you can save yourself the commission. Instead, we recommend that you first make a complaint to the airline yourself by sending the official EU passenger rights form or our sample letter (see downloads) to the airline.

If the airline does not respond to this complaint for 2 months, you can contact state arbitration bodies or bodies set up by the EU, such as the European Consumer Centres. These will support you if your own written complaint is unsuccessful:

Cost free support:

  • ECC (only foreign airlines with headquarters in the EU) 
  • APF (Flight must take off / land in Austria or Austrian airline)
  • Ombudsstelle (domestic and foreign EU airline, if booked by internet)
  • Verbraucherschlichtung (if other arbitration boards are not responsible)

With costs:

  • VKI (Flight of a foreign non-EU airline must take off / land in Austria or an Austrian airline)


Share this post

Facebook Twitter Drucken E-Mail

This could also be of interest:

Brexit - travellers and consumers

Brexit - travellers and consumers

In the referendum on 23 June 2016, 52 percent of Britons voted in favour of Brexit. On 24 December, the EU and the UK concluded a far-reaching trade and partnership agreement. What are the consequences for consumers in Europe? Here are some hints about the changes from the perspective of travellers and consumers

Zum Seitenanfang