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Cost Comparison Requirements

Domestic (Inside the Continental United States)

For travel on or after October 1, 2016 cost comparisons will be eliminated for domestic trips (inside the Continental United States) and replaced with a maximum reimbursable amount.  

  • $400 will be the maximum amount allowed for domestic trips (inside the continental United States).

The maximum amount reimbursable will be determined annually by the Central Travel Office based on the average ticket costs reporting by the US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

International and Outside the Continental United States

A cost comparison will continue to be required for travel outside the Continental United States (Alaska, Hawaii & US Possessions & Territories) and for all international trips.

All cost comparisons must be obtained from Concur or Altour and must meet the requirements of the cost comparison documentation guidelines.

  1. 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 showing lowest logical airfare 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.
  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 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 lowest logical 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 lodgical 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.
  5. 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 the lowest logical coach air accommodations.
  6. When airfare purchased is a higher class than allowed by University travel guidelines.
  1. A cost comparison must:
    1. Be obtained prior to the trip from Concur.
      1. Best Practice: Comparison should be obtained at the same time the trip is arranged.
    2. Show results for multiple airlines and provide documentation
      1. Use Concur to find the comparison
      2. Search results from a single airline site is not acceptable
      3. Two one-way flights used in place of a round-trip flight is not acceptable
    3. Based on
      1. The business destination(s) for the dates and times of business
      2. Include the day before business begins and day after business ends as travel days
        1. No personal dates or destinations may be included in the comparison
      3. If a traveler is eligible to purchase a higher class fare, but chooses to purchase economy, the cost comparison should be economy as well.
    4. Select the lowest logical fare as the comparison price
      1. The lowest logical flight generally includes one stopover
    5. Attach the comparison documentation to expense report or travel request
  2. A copy of a co-worker's airfare itinerary/receipt that attended the same business event with no personal time or other travel destinations involved.
  3. A written statement from Altour obtained prior to the trip.
  • Comparisons should be obtained prior to the trip.  Best Practice: At the same time the trip is planned/arranged.

In the event a traveler has not provided a required comparison for a trip other than domestic (inside the Continental United States), the Business Office or Central Travel Office staff may obtain the cost comparison.  The amount that is reimbursed is the lesser of the cost comparison or actual expense incurred.