Passengers need to be aware that if they are considering claiming airline compensation, they must first check which airline carrier is actually operating the flight – for example if you experience a delayed flight which has been booked through BA, it is entirely possible the flight was be operated by a partner airline such as American Airlines.
Whilst the European legislation that allows for airline compensation covers all Airlines regardless of their nationality (as long as; the flight originated in the EU or if you took off from outside the EU) the rules only apply if the Airline is an EU based one.
Airline compensation claims
For example if you are travelling with British Airways from the US to London and arrive more than 3 hours late, you can claim airline compensation as you are landing in the EU and the airline is based in the EU. However, if you are travelling to London from America on a non-EU airline and are more than 3 hours delayed, the legislation does not apply and you can not claim airline compensation.
This is a frequent problem for EU travellers if they end up with a delayed flight and are held up in the US for more than a day or so. If they are travelling with a European airline, they are entitled to meals, accommodation and refreshments at a cost to the carrier. They will also be entitled to claim airline compensation. As a European airline, BA must adhere to the EU's legislation regarding airline compensation and passenger rights. These demand a duty of care if there are flight delays, and also set out the compensation that may be due in the event of a cancelled flight or a flight delay of three hours or more.
However, if you have travelled with a US airline, unwittingly or not, you will have to look after yourselves. You can speak to the Airline or escalate to the US Dept. of Transportation (bit.ly/UScomplaint) but there is no guarantee of a positive outcome.
It may be you booked your flight with an EU airline but you find the operator of the flight is actually not EU based. If you suffer a delay, it is the operating airline who is responsible and, if you took off outside the EU, you would not be able to claim.
Always check who your actual carrier is regardless as to whom the trip has been booked with as this will have a real impact should you suffer a delay or cancellation and want to claim airline compensation.