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Cost Comparison Requirements


  1. A printout from Concur Travel & Expense is best practice. A printout from an online vendor that searches multiple airlines, i.e., Expedia or Orbitz is acceptable.
    1. Cost comparison must:
      1. Be obtained prior to the trip
      2. Show search results for multiple airlines
      3. Not be limited to search results from a single airline
      4. Show available flights and airlines generally with one stopover
      5. Show business travel to and from the business destination for the days of business only
      6. Should not be one-way ticket prices
  2. Copy of a co-worker's airfare itinerary/receipt who attended the same business event with no personal or other travel destinations involved.
  3. A written statement from a travel agency obtained prior to the trip


  • Comparisons are only accurate if obtained 'prior' to travel.
    • Best Practice: Comparison should be obtained at the same time the tickets are purchased.


In the event a traveler has not provided a required comparison, the Business Office or Central Travel Office staff can obtain the cost comparison.


The amount that is reimbursed is the lesser of the cost comparison or actual expense amount.


  1. Driving VS Flying:
    • The mileage reimbursement cannot exceed the best available airfare prior to travel. To qualify for reimbursement when driving longer distances normally accomplished by flying (Rule of Thumb: Greater than 800 miles roundtrip), the expense under the "Drive Vs Fly" rule must be the lesser of the actual mileage expense or total of:
      • Lowest available economy/coach airfare prior to travel for dates of business only
      • Roundtrip mileage to airport
      • Airport parking ( contracted rate of $9.00 per day)
      • Shuttle expense to/from airport to business location
  2. When leaving from or returning to a location other than 'Official Station' or place of business:
    • Travel expense reimbursement is limited to the lesser of expenses incurred departing from or returning to the "official station" or place of business. The official station is defined as the location of the permanent office.
      • If two adjoining trips are made for University business with no personal travel included, a cost comparison is not required even though the traveler is departing from a location other than the official station to go to the second business location.
  3. When discounted fare that requires additional overnight stay (generally a Saturday night) is purchased:
    • Discounted airfare, additional lodging, fixed meals and any other expenses incurred due to the additional stay must not exceed regular economy/coach fare for the business trip.
  4. When combining personal and business travel:
    • Occasionally an employee may take a trip that includes both personal and business days.
    • When this occurs, the following rules apply.
      • A cost comparison is not necessary if the stay at the business location is extended up to 3 days either prior to or after the dates of the business mission.
      • A cost comparison is required if the stay is extended longer than 3 days prior to or after the dates of the business mission.
        • Additional expenses resulting from the added personal time, i.e., parking, lodging, fixed meals, etc., are not reimbursable.
      • A cost comparison is required when the airfare includes overnight stays at destinations (excepting normal connecting airports) other than the business destination(s). 
        • The traveler must provide a cost comparison for the direct route to and from the business location for the days of business.
    • 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.
  5. When Using Leased or Chartered Aircraft:
    • The actual lease cost for aircraft leased from a commercial leasing company or Purdue Aero Club is reimbursable up to the round trip commercial coach airfare rate for the same trip for the same number of official passengers.
    • Chartered aircraft expenses are reimbursable up to the lowest available round trip commercial coach airfare for the same dates and destination of travel.
    • In each of the situations above, a traveler must provide a written cost comparison.
  6. When Using A Train to Travel in a Foreign Country:
    • A foreign train, bus or other service carrier may be used in lieu of, or as a supplement to air travel at the lowest rate by the transportation facility used.
    • If such travel could have been performed by air, the allowance should not exceed that of coach air accommodations.