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Transportation By Air

The most economical means of transportation should be used when traveling on university business. The total cost of the travel and efficient use of staff time should be taken into consideration when making this decision. First class fares are not allowable for any mode of transportation.

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 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/reimbursed by a third-party source, or costs that will be paid/reimbursed from any other source. The redemption of or purchase of points may be used to purchase or upgrade, however any charges related to redemption, purchase or use of frequent flier or loyalty points are not reimbursable.

Air Travel

Economy/Coach Fares

For travel on or after October 1, 2016, all air tickets that indicate "economy" or "coach" are reimbursable.

This includes fees for seat selection when booking economy or coach airfares.

Greater than 14-Hour International Flights - Business (including Southwest Business Select)

Business class, including Southwest Business Select, is allowable when the origin and/or destination of University business 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.

Business Class (including Southwest Business Select)

Reimbursement for higher fare ticket business class, including Southwest Business Select (except 14-Hour International exception) is not reimbursable without approval by the Director of Procurement Services prior to the purchase of the airfare.

When a higher fare ticket (Southwest Business Select) is purchased, a copy of the signed/approved exception memo must be attached to the travel request and/or expense report.

An exception to purchase a higher class ticket 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 or included in the memo.
    • Make reference in the memo that a physician's statement is on file.
First Class

First class fares are not allowable for any mode of transportation.

Receipt Requirements

Visit the Receipt Requirements page for complete airfare receipt information.

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; therefore, it is difficult to easily define any personal days. In addition, changes or cancellations are generally not allowable in the leisure online booking tools.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for flight cancellation or Air/Hotel package cancellation is not a reimbursable expense.

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.

Please contact Altour when applying an unused ticket toward purchase of another ticket for University business.

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 the business location is extended (up to 3 days), either prior to or after the business mission, 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. 
    1. The traveler must provide a quote from Concur or Altour, Purdue's preferred travel agency, as proof of cost for the direct route to and from the business location for the dates of business. This must be obtained 'PRIOR' to travel and attached to the travel request and/or expense report. To qualify 'PRIOR', the comparison should be obtained at the same time the tickets are purchased.
    2. 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

University employees are required, by the 'Fly America Act', to use US flag carrier if the airfare is purchased with 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, subcontractors 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, 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 a 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.

When booking in Concur Travel & Expense, search results showing the FlyAmerica Icon indicates that the airfare meets the requirements of the US Flag Carrier and Open Skies agreements.

Per Federal Travel Regulations § 301-10.141 and 301-10.142, if a non-U.S. air carrier is used, a Fly America Act certification statement/comment or a  Fly America Act Certification form must be completed, signed and attached to the expense report in Concur.  If neither the certification statement/comment or 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 may 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)
  • Allegiant Airlines (G4)
  • American Airlines (AA)
  • Delta Airlines (DL)
  • Frontier Airlines (F9)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HA)
  • JetBlue Airways (B6)
  • Mesa Airlines (YV)
  • Republic Airlines (RW)
  • Southwest Airlines (WN)
  • Spirit Airlines (NK)
  • United Airlines (UA)
  • US Airways (US)
  • Virgin America (VX)
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 booking in Concur Travel & Expense, search results showing the american flag indicates that the airfare meets the requirements of the US Flag Carrier, code share and Open Skies agreements.

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.

Privately Owned, Leased or Chartered Aircraft
Privately Owned Aircraft:

The traveler is entitled to the current per mile amount based on GSA Privately Owned Vehicle Mileage Reimbursement rates up to the cost comparison guideline amount.  The reimbursable amount is for one individual only.

Statute (SM) miles should be used when calculating air mileage.  For calculating the mileage between airports, please visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inter-Airport Distance website at http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Distance.asp?pn=0.  Website http://boatsafe.com/tools/scale.htm can also be used to assist in converting nautical miles to statute (regular) miles.

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.