Commercial Airlines

Flight Selection
The lowest priced airfares shall be selected consistent with the employee's convenience for departure and/or arrival needs. Direct flights should be selected as a first choice. Generally, flights should require no more than one stop or no more than one hour spent on the ground, however cost must be considered.

The use of certified U.S. flag carriers is required by our federal sponsors, except under limited circumstances. If in doubt, contact the Grants and Contracts Administration Office. If conditions are not met the use of discretionary funds will be required for reimbursement.

Class of Service
Economy class air travel (supersavers, apex, or economy coach fares) will be used exclusively, except when this would:

  • Require traveling at unreasonable hours.
  • Require circuitous routing.
  • Significantly increase the duration of the flight.
  • Result in additional costs which would offset the transportation savings
  • Offer accommodations which are not reasonably adequate for the physical or medical needs of the traveler.

Changes in the airline industry pricing structures have allowed passengers to upgrade their seating while remaining in the same "class" of seats (i.e. coach vs. first class). The TFAR regulations that govern travel under federal funds states the following regarding these upgrades within class:

§301-10.124  What are coach-class Seating Upgrade Programs?

Sometimes these programs are called “Coach Elite,” “Coach Plus,” “Preferred Coach” or some other identifier. Under these airline programs, a passenger may obtain for a fee a more desirable seat choice within the coach-class cabin. These airline upgrade or preferred seat choices are generally available for an annual fee, at an airport kiosk or gate or as a frequent flier perk. These coach upgrade options are not considered a new or higher class of accommodation since the seating is still in the coach cabin. However, the use of these upgraded/preferred coach seating options is generally a traveler’s personal choice and therefore is at the traveler’s personal expense. An agency travel authorization approving official or his/her designee (e.g., supervisor of the traveler) may authorize and reimburse the additional seat choice fee according to internal agency policy (see 301-70.102(k)).

 As this states, should an individual wish to avail themselves of these additional seat choices and would like to charge a grant or contract, written permission must be attained by the appropriate approval from the sponsor.


Frequent Flyer Benefits
Under no circumstances will an employee be permitted to alter cost efficient travel plans in order to achieve frequent flyer benefits. The Institution will not reimburse an employee when frequent flyer credits are used.

Lost and Unused Tickets
Travelers should treat airline tickets with the same regard for security as cash. Lost or missing tickets should be reported immediately to Preferred Travel or to the travel agency the ticket was purchased from. All unused tickets should be returned for credit immediately to Preferred Travel or to the travel agency the ticket was purchased from.

Personal Travel
Personal stopovers are allowable only within the fare structure of the authorized travel. Additional fares are the responsibility of the traveler. Personal portion should be noted on itinerary by booking agent.

Privately-owned Aircraft

Whenever a nonscheduled aircraft (leased, chartered, loaned, private) is to be used for Institution affairs, it is required that disclosure be filed in advance with the Administrator for the Office of Finance and Administration MS#14. Reimbursement will be based on the actual operating expense or rental fee for the aircraft, but may not exceed the coach airfare for the distance traveled.

Last updated: August 10, 2012