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Transportation By Air

Commercial Air

Receipt Requirements 

U.S. Flag Carrier Rules 

 Greater than 14-hour International Flights

 Unused Tickets

Fly America Justification 

Business Class

 Discounted Airfare

Code Share Rules

 First Class

Combination Personal/Business 

Leased or Chartered Aircraft

 The most economical means of transportation should be used when traveling on university business. This will be determined by the staff member and the department head based upon the total cost of the travel, efficient use of staff time and convenience to the employee.

Travel expense reimbursement is limited to the lesser of expenses incurred from the departure point or from the "official station". The official station is defined as the location of the permanent office. The official station is defined as the location of the permanent office including the entire city or general area in which the "official station" is located.

Only travel expenses related to University business are reimbursable. Reimbursement is not allowable for items provided free of charge (such as frequent flyer miles or loyalty award programs for air, hotel, car, etc.), items previously reimbursed, items prepaid by University, items paid by a third-party source, or costs that will be paid/reimbursed from any other source. The redemption of points may be used to purchase or upgrade, however any charges related to redemption or use of frequent flier or loyalty points are not reimbursable.

If the traveler is departing from some place other than their permanent office, a comparison must be attached to the expense report, indicating expenses are the lesser of the two.

Air Travel

Commercial Air

Commercial air travel should be purchased at the lowest available commercial standard coach/economy airfare.

First Class

First class airfare is not an allowable expense.

Business Class (including economy plus, economy elite, etc)

Reimbursement for higher fare ticket (economy elite, economy plus, business class) is not reimbursable without approval by the Director of Procurement Services prior to the purchase of the airfare.

When a higher fare ticket (economy elite, economy plus, business class) is purchased, a copy of the signed/approved exception memo must be attached to the Concur Request.

An exception may be requested when one of the following conditions is met:

  1. When use of other than coach class is necessary to accommodate a medical disability or other special need. For short-term medical conditions, this is approved on a trip by trip basis, and for ongoing conditions this can be approved annually for the Purdue fiscal year.
  2. When exceptional security circumstances require other than coach class airline accommodations (i.e., use of coach class accommodations would endanger your life or University property);
  3. Coach class accommodations on an authorized/approved foreign air carrier do not provide adequate sanitation or health standards; or
  4. No space is available in coach class accommodations in time to accomplish the mission, which is urgent and cannot be postponed.

Approval is obtained by submitting a memo addressed to the Procurement Services Director and signed by the Department Head requesting authorization for the exception.  This memo should be sent to the Travel Administrator in the Central Travel Office.

The memo should provide:

  • The reason for the exception providing verification for the request.
  • Time period of the exception.
  • The memo must be renewed annually from the date of the original request.
  • If the reason is related to a medical condition, a statement from a physician explaining the special needs requirement and a recommendation as to the suitable class of transportation must be on file.
    • The physician's statement must be renewed annually to be concurrent with the time period of the exception memo.
    • The physician's statement or medical information must not be attached to or included in the memo.
    • Make reference in the memo that a physician's statement is on file.

When a higher fare ticket (economy elite, economy plus, business class) is purchased, a copy of the signed/approved exception memo must be attached to the Concur Request.

Greater than 14-Hour International Flights

Effective for travel on or after January 1, 2014, higher than economy or business class fare is allowable when the origin and/or destination is outside the continental United States and the scheduled flight time, including stopovers and change of planes, is in excess of 14 hours.  If the14-hour rule is applied, a rest period upon arrival at business site is not allowable.

When the trip request has been completed through Concur, the traveler's supervisor will be notified of the upgrade.  

 Receipt Requirements

Visit the Receipt Requirements page for complete airfare receipt information.

Fees for paper tickets, if the ticket is not eligible for e-ticketing, is reimbursable. Cost should be itemized on ticket.

 Air / Hotel Packages

  • Air/Hotel vacation packages should be avoided when booking outside Concur Travel & Expense. The Internal Revenue Service requires that expenses be itemized. Generally online tools such as Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, etc give one total for both air and hotel. In addition, changes or cancellations are generally not allowable in the leisure online booking tools.

Non-Refundable Tickets

Airlines are continuously changing their fares and the policies governing those fares. A common way to obtain a deeply discounted ticket is to buy a "non-refundable" ticket. However, most airlines will no longer exchange a non-refundable ticket after the plane has departed. Some airlines will allow for standby on the same day of original departure with a $200 exchange fee. Visit "non-refundable" ticket exchanges for detailed information.

Unused Tickets

If the university pays for an airfare ticket and it cannot be used, the unused ticket should be exchanged for the next available trip taken by the traveler. A copy of the original ticket and exchange receipt should be attached to the expense report in Concur for reimbursement.

If the ticket was paid using the department procurement card, it cannot be exchanged for a trip that includes personal travel.

Discounted Airfare

Discount air travel arrangements that require an additional night(s) lodging and/or subsistence are reimbursable under the following conditions:

  • Additional lodging and subsistence must not exceed regular economy/coach fare at the time the trip is taken.
  • A calculation/comparison showing the savings must appear in box 16 on the Form 17. The comparison should include a quote for coach fare without the additional stay, the amount of discounted fare, additional lodging, subsistence, rental car days, airport parking, and any other expenses incurred on behalf of the extra days stay.
    • The total of the discounted fare, days of additional lodging, subsistence, rental car, airport parking and any other expenses incurred should be less than quote without additional stay.

If the traveling employee and his/her department head agree to extend travel time consuming additional work time or personal time in order to reduce the cost of travel, that is their prerogative. However, it must be stressed that people will not be forced to use their personal time (e.g., weekends) to secure less expensive plane fare or less overall out-of-pocket costs.

Airfare with Personal Destinations Included

Occasionally an employee may take a trip that includes both personal and business travel.

When this occurs, the following rules apply.

  1. If the stay at a business location is extended either prior to or after the business mission (no more than 2-3 days), the entire ticket may be reimbursed.
  2. If any other destinations (other than normal connecting airports) not pertaining to the business purpose are included on the ticket, the amount reimbursed will be the fare directly related to the point(s) of business based on the fare class used.
    The traveler must provide a written quote, from a website as proof of cost for the direct route to and from the business location or from travel agency. This must be obtained 'PRIOR' to travel, outlined in Box 16 on the Form 17, and attached to the Form 25, Request for Reimbursement. To qualify 'PRIOR', the comparison should be obtained at the same time the tickets are purchased.
    1. Tickets purchased separately (one-way) to travel on personal business should not be included in the price when comparing the cost of tickets.

A combination trip does benefit the traveler to some extent, therefore, travelers should exercise special care not to seek reimbursement for expenses that could be construed as personal. Additional information can be found at personal and business travel.

U.S. Flag Carrier

Purdue employees are required, by the 'Fly America Act', to use US flag carrier if the trip is funded by federal funds.

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 ('Fly America Act')as amended by the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1974 requires all federal agencies and government contractors, sub contractors and grantees to use U.S. Flag Carriers for air transportation of personnel both domestic and foreign travel when using *federally appropriated funds for travel.

*Federal appropriated funds means moneys directly awarded to the University on either a contract, grant, or appropriated basis, or a subcontract in which the Federal Government is the original source of funding. It does not refer to those situations where a contract is funded by a foreign government, even if the original source of moneys to that government is the United States Government.

The Act further provides that in the absence of satisfactory proof of the necessity to use a non-U.S. Flag Carrier, any expenditure of federally appropriated funds for foreign travel on other than U.S. Flag Carrier shall not be allowable.

On April 30, 2007, the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement was signed, providing EU airlines (airlines of the European Union and its Member States) the right to transport passengers and cargo on scheduled and charter flights for which payment is made by a U.S. Government civilian department, agency, or instrumentality subject to certain restrictions. On June 24, 2010, the United States Government and the European Union amended this agreement and extended additional rights to EU airlines.  Click here to view the Fly America-Open Skies flowchart.

The expenditure of federal funds for service furnished by a non-U.S. flag carrier is allowable only when service by a U.S. flag carrier is considered to be unavailable. See Excerpt from Federal Regulations for rules on use of non-U.S. flag carriers.

A Fly America Act certification statement, per Federal Travel Regulations § 301-10.141 and 301-10.142, must be completed and signed Fly America Act Certification form attached to the expense report in Concur.  If neither the certification statement or certification form is included with the expense report, the Central Travel Office will request a certification be completed and signed by the traveler.

NOTE: Reimbursement for airfare utilizing non-U.S. flag carriers on federal funds will not be made without the certification.

There are certain projects funded by foreign governments to which these instructions are not applicable because the contract requires the use of a non-U.S. flag carrier. If such a situation arises, documentation should be provided and attached to the expense report.

In order for a flight to be in compliance with the Fly America Act, the code of a U.S. flag air carrier must be noted as part of the flight number on the airline ticket, flight coupon (boarding pass), or passenger receipt. Each airline has a 2 character code assigned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The designator code forms the first two characters of the flight number.
With the list below, you will be able to compare airline codes on the ticket with those on the list and ascertain whether or not the flight is on a U.S. flag carrier.

  • Air Tran Airways (FL)
  • Alaska Airlines (AS)
  • America West Airlines (HP)
  • American Airlines (AA)
  • American Trans Air (TZ)
  • Continental Airlines (CO)
  • Delta Airlines (DL)
  • Frontier Airlines (F9)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HA)
  • JetBlue Airways (B6)
  • Mesa Airlines (YV)
  • Midwest Airlines (YX)
  • Northwest Airlines (NW)
  • Southwest Airlines (WN)
  • Spirit Airlines (NK)
  • United Airlines (UA)
  • US Airways (US)

Code Share Flights

A codeshare is an agreement between airlines to sell seats on each other's flights to provide more destinations and flight choices (may be between 2 US airlines or a US airline and non-US airline). Codeshare flights are displayed as flights for both the operating carrier (the airline used for the flight) and the marketing carrier (partner that sells the seats on the operating carrier).

When the code share is between a U.S. air carrier and a non-U.S. air carrier, the ticket stock or documentation for electronic tickets must identify the U.S. airlines designator code and flight number as the marketing carrier to be in compliance with the Fly America Act.

See examples below:

Allowable when paying with federal funds:
UA 1002 (Operated by LH 1224)
Not Allowable when paying with federal funds:
LH 1224 (Operated by UA 1002)
UA = United Airlines (U.S. Carrier)
LH = Lufthansa (non-U.S. Carrier)

Leased or Chartered Aircraft

Leased aircraft:

The actual lease cost for aircraft leased from commercial leasing companies or the Purdue Pilots, Inc is reimbursable up to the round trip, commercial coach airfare rate for the same trip for the same number of official passengers. A valid invoice must be provided. A quote must be attached to the expense report when requesting reimbursement.

Chartered Aircraft

Chartered aircraft may be used when traveling on university business if it is the least expensive method of transportation. To charter an aircraft contact Procurement.