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I am turning part of my answer on question What rights do passengers have when flights in the USA are delayed?, into a new question.

The EU made very elaborate passengers rights on EU-based airlines. These rights apply as soon as you fly with such an airline, but do the rules still apply if you booked with an EU-based airlines, but the flight is operated under code-sharing with a (non-EU) partner airline?

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I would say that your only official contact is with the EU-based airline which delivered your ticket. So EU rights should apply. –  mouviciel Oct 28 '11 at 8:47
    
That is what I think as well, but this would mean that buying a ticket from an EU-based airline is from a passengers perspective the nicest solution. From the airlines perspective, it would mean that EU airlines are then made responsible for every partner airline there is. –  andra Oct 28 '11 at 11:25
    
I believe the rules apply to any flight originating or intending to land in the EU during any part of the flight. So an Air Canada flight landing in London is subject to the rules. –  Stuart Oct 28 '11 at 13:11
    
Unfortunately, I do not have any public evidence, but I know of a case from my family where a lawsuit of theirs for compensation for severe delays in 2012 or 2013 in a flight booked in Europe with a European carrier, who is a member of a large global airline alliance, was explicitly dismissed on the grounds that the flight was conducted by a U.S. airline, hence European passenger rights did not apply. –  O. R. Mapper yesterday
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The rules will apply to the operating carrier. ie, the one that is actually flying the flight - not the one that you booked with.

EU Compensation applies to EU airlines regardless of where the flight is to/from, AND to non-EU airlines for flights DEPARTING an EU member state. eg, a Lufthansa flight between the US and Frankfurt would be covered in either direction, whilst a United flight would only be covered from Germany to the US and NOT in the other direction.

So if you book a Lufthansa codeshare that was actually operated by United, then the regulations would apply only on the legs that depart from the EU, and not for any other legs as United is the operating carrier.

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