I have a Lufthansa (EU german airline) flight booked on a single ticket like this:

non-EU -> FRA (2h layover) -> USA

Am I entitled to:

Passenger rights in case of denied boarding, downgrading, cancellation or long delay of their flight under Regulation (EC) 261/2004

  • IIRC the simple fact that it’s operated by an EU airline is enough to qualify, independently of whether your origin or destination is in the EU. – jcaron May 9 '18 at 22:48
  • Of course there are lots of conditions to actually be eligible for compensation... – jcaron May 9 '18 at 22:50
  • @jcaron No, if you take an EU/EEA/CH airline between two non-EU/EEA/CH points (fifth freedom), it does not apply. – user71659 May 9 '18 at 22:52
  • @jcaron Lufthansa is an EU airline – technology May 10 '18 at 4:53
  • @user71659 but in this case it's not a direct flight between non-EU points, thanks to the transfer in Frankfurt. – phoog May 10 '18 at 6:04

The question is about the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91

There it says in article 3 "scope":

  1. This Regulation shall apply:

(a) to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies;

(b) to passengers departing from an airport located in a third country to an airport situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies, unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country, if the operating air carrier of the flight concerned is a Community carrier.

So in short words: It's relevant that your journey starts or ends in a country to which the treaty applies. The country the airline is headquartered in or licensed by does not matter. Also it won't matter that you have a stopover in the EU.

It would be different if you were on two separate tickets, one from non treaty country to Germany and a separate one from Germany to the US.

And on a side note, beware to double check the meaning of

territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies

In many cases it's pretty clear what that means, in others it's more subtle. For example, Greenland used to qualify, but doesn't any more. There is even some find print in the treaty about Gibraltar airport.

  • 1
    It's not clear to me that "to an airport" in the quoted language is necessarily restricted to a final destination. Do you know any relevant court decisions supporting that interpretation? – hmakholm left over Monica Jul 18 '18 at 14:47
  • There is a case which is kind of the other way round. eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DE/TXT/?uri=CELEX:62017CJ0537 The European Court judged that any consequtive legs of a flight booked on one ticket has to be considered one flight. In that case it meant that a flight originating in the EU does not terminate at the first stopover outside of the EU but only at the final destination. In this case it's kind of the other way round, i.e. would be logical at least that a stopover inside the EU does not entitle you to applicability of the treaty. – TorstenS Jul 20 '18 at 14:12

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