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Prepaid Airfare

Airline Ticket Fees may be paid in advance using the University Purchasing Card. Normal University travel policies apply and are available at our Travel Home Page.

If the traveler chooses not to have the airfare prepaid using the department p-card, payment of the airfare expense will be paid when the traveler returns from the trip using the Form 25, Request for Reimbursement of Travel Expenses.

The process starts when the traveler has determined a business need for travel, has obtained reasonable estimates for the cost of the trip, and has an approved Form 17, Request for Authority to Travel on University Business.

Once the traveler has completed the Form 17 and obtained approvals, the payment method should be discussed with the Business Office. Any expense that will be charged via the University purchasing card should be clearly identified on the Form 17 in Section 14 or 16.

CAUTION:  Occasionally an employee may take a trip that includes both personal and business travel or the trip may originate from another location because of personal business.  University funds cannot be used to reimburse personal expenses, therefore the airfare cannot be paid using the department procurement card.     In either case, the traveler (or their travel arranger) is required to obtain a   cost comparison when combining business and personal travel.  See cost comparison pages for complete information about what is acceptable documentation and when a quote/comparison is required.

The procedures listed below apply to employees only and assume that the normal business processes such as use of U.S. Flag carriers for federally funded projects, coach fares for all trips, allowable and allocable expenses, have all taken place before prepayment.   The use of the purchasing card for travel expenses is limited to airfare, registration fees, and hotels when Purdue's Hotels.com and Egencia Corporate Travel booking tools are used for official University business only and should never be used for personal expenses.

The process assumes the traveler is responsible for making the specific travel arrangements and communicating the necessary details to the Business Office.

Final approval for domestic travel generally resides at the department level.  At the West Lafayette campus, approval for foreign travel on SPS funds requires Dean/SPS approval, all other funds require executive vice president approval (this may be delegated to the department head level).  Once the travel is approved, and the proper signatures are affixed to the Form 17, the Business Office can proceed with the appropriate payment method using the following procedures.

The procedure changes slightly depending on whether the Business Office or the Traveler holds the Purchasing Card.

Procedures If Traveler Has the Purchasing Card:

  • The employee will complete flight arrangements, except for payment details. The employee should also confirm that the fare is a coach rate at this time. The payment arrangements and confirmation of coach fare should be noted on the Form 17 along with the assigned purchasing card number.
  • The original Form 17 will be retained for normal travel processes and filed waiting for reimbursement.
  • A copy of the Form 17 should be filed with the purchasing card documentation awaiting the purchasing card monthly reconciliation.
  • When the purchasing card transaction listing is received, the business office will verify that the charges are correct and complete the purchasing card reconciliation process.
  • When the traveler submits the Form 25 for reimbursement, the Business Office will verify that the airline receipt (see Receipt Requirements) is attached and the prepaid airfare is accounted for properly. They will then complete the review of the Form 25, sign, and submit it for payment with the original Form 17.
  • The Business Office will attach copies of the Form 25 and airline ticket to the Form 17 maintained as part of the purchasing card backup documentation.
  • Other copies of the Form 17, Form 25, and receipts are filed per normal department procedure.
  • The business office will review pending Form 17s bi-monthly. If the travel dates have passed, the business office will contact the employee to follow-up on reimbursement of expenses. If the employee has not filed for reimbursement within six months of the trip, or if the trip did not occur, the employee will be expected to reimburse the University for the charged expenses.
    Any expense that is prepaid by the university must be clearly identified on the Form 17 in section 16 (Notes and Explanations) indicating the method of payment. 

Procedures If Business Office Has the Procurement Card:

  • The Business Office will notify the employee when the travel is approved.
  • The employee/arranger will complete flight arrangements.
  • The employee will communicate the airline payment details to the Business Office.
  • The Business Office confirm that the Form 17 is approved, that the fare is coach or on a U.S. carrier if being paid by federal funds, then charge the airfare using the purchasing card approved for travel expenses.  The payment arrangements and confirmation of coach fare should be noted on the  Form 17 with the assigned purchasing card tracking number.
  • The original Form 17 will be retained for normal travel processes and filed awaiting reimbursement.
  • A copy of the Form 17 should be filed with the purchasing card documentation awaiting the purchasing card monthly reconciliation.
  • When the purchasing card transaction listing is received, the business office will verify that the charges are correct and complete the purchasing card reconciliation process.
  • When the traveler submits the Form 25 for reimbursement, the Business Office will verify that the airline receipt (see Receipt Requirements) is attached and the prepaid airfare is accounted for properly.  They will then complete the review of the Form 25, then sign and submit it for payment with the original Form 17.
  • The Business Office will attach copies of the Form 25 and airline receipt (See #8) to the Form 17 maintained as part of the purchasing card backup documentation.
  • Other copies of the Form 17, Form 25, and receipts are filed per normal department procedure.
  • The Business Office will review pending Form 17s bi-monthly. If the travel dates have passed, the Business Office will contact the employee to follow-up on reimbursement of expenses. If the employee has not filed for reimbursement within six months of the trip, the Business Office will contact the employee regarding reimbursement of the charged airfare.
    Canceled Trips will be handled under normal Travel Policy guidelines.

    For Sponsored Projects that have expired, the Business Office should check the pending file for outstanding travel on the expired accounts and request Form 25s or repayment of expense prior to the six month period stated above consistent with normal account management time frames.

    NOTE: Most ticket less airfare (e-tickets) should not be prepaid using the department purchasing card unless the traveler has the purchasing card.  Some airlines require the credit card be presented at the airport.