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FAQs: Travel/Fly America Act

Can airfare be booked using a travel website or a travel agent?

The best way to book the flight is to go directly through a U.S. flag air carrier. If you have to use a travel website or travel agency, verify that the flights you are purchasing are being issued by the U.S. flag air carrier. University-contracted travel agencies may not be aware of the source of funds you are using to pay for the travel and the need to fly on a U.S. flag air carrier. You should let the agency know in advance.

Who is required to use a U.S. flag air carrier?

All individuals who will be paid or reimbursed for travel costs from a federally funded project cost center.

What is a Code Share flight?

A code share flight involves an agreement in which a ticket is issued by a U.S. flag air carrier, although the seat is on a plane operated by a non-U.S. flag air carrier. For example, United Airlines may sell a ticket that includes some legs of a trip to Germany on a Lufthansa plane. To be compliant for federal funds, the ticket or itinerary must show the U. S. flag air carrier's airline code next to the flight number for each leg of the trip. If the flight number had an airline code of UA for United Airlines, the ticket would be compliant, even if one or more legs of the trip were "Operated by Lufthansa." If the ticket had an airline code of LH for Lufthansa, the ticket would not be compliant and could not be charged to federal funds.

Where can I find the airline designator codes?

These are a couple websites to go to for determining the country of origin for air carriers:

May I travel by a foreign flag air carrier if the cost of my ticket is less than traveling by a U.S. flag air carrier?

No. The Fly America Act specifically states that cost cannot be considered as a factor.

Scenario Question

Flight tickets within the U.S. and on U.S. air carriers were issued by a U.S. air carrier, and flights to and/or within foreign countries were on foreign carriers with tickets issued by a U.S. carrier. Can the entire trip be charged to the federal funds?

No. Even when the traveler is in a foreign country and is traveling from one foreign location to another, U.S. air carriers would still need to be utilized, if available. A waiver will be needed to document why service by U.S. flag air carrier(s) is not available, or why it was necessary to use a foreign air carrier.

What is bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreement?

This is the same as the Open Skies Agreements, which allows federally funded airline tickets to be purchased on foreign air carriers that belong to countries that have an agreement with the U.S. However, the following conditions must exist:

  • A General Service Administration (GSA) city-pair contract does not exist
  • Travel is not funded by the Department of Defense
  • The foreign carrier is a member airline of the European Union, Australia, or Switzerland.

What is a (GSA) City Pair agreement?

Each year, under the Airline City Pair Program, the GSA Federal Supply Service awards contracts for air transportation for travelers on official government travel. The contracts are competitively awarded based on the best overall value to the government. Government employees are required to use the U.S. flag airlines if a city-pair agreement exists, without regard as to whether a bilateral or multilateral air transposition agreement exist with that country.

What is considered an involuntarily rerouting of a traveler on a foreign air carrier?

An involuntary rerouting means that the initial airline ticket or itinerary was booked with no foreign carrier listed. However, while traveling you were asked to change carrier due to unforeseen circumstances.