When booking airfare and charging to sponsored awards, travelers must comply with the Fly America Act which requires travelers to use:
- A U.S. Flag air carrier (an airline owned by an American company); or
- A foreign carrier that operates under a U.S. Flag air carrier code-sharing agreement and identifies the U.S. ag air carrier’s designator code and flight number.
Mistakes to avoid
The most common issues we see where flight charges need to be removed from grant accounts are due to the following:
- There is no Open Skies treaty with Canada, so flights on Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines are unallowable on federal awards.
- (Please note that Canada should be coded as DOMESTIC travel in our system)
- The Open Skies exception does not apply for any awards funded either directly or as pass-through awards by any branch of DOD.
Another common issue is non-BU employees booking their own flights and are unaware of the regulations. Unless not possible for some real reason, it is best practice for the PI’s department to make travel arrangements for collaborators to ensure compliance with federal and BU regulations.
What are the exceptions?
Traveler’s should check the GSA sites for the most up to date information.
Q. What are the allowable exceptions under the Fly America Act?
A. The exceptions are
- When a U.S. air carrier is not available.
- When the use of a U.S. carrier service would extend the travel time by 24 hours or more.
- When a U.S. carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination; and,\
- Increases the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more.
- Extends travel time by at least six hours or more.
- Requires a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.
- Short Distance Travel – When the flight time from origin to destination is less than 3 hours and the use of a U.S. flag carrier doubles the time en-route.
- When there is an applicable Open Skies agreement in effect which the Department of Transportation says meets the requirements of the FAA.
Documentation for exceptions
If you do have to use a non-US carrier because a US carrier is not available, you must document the unavailability of the US carrier at the time of booking, not after the travel has taken place.
Booking on Concur
To help determine if your flight is compliant, when booking flights in Concur look for the shield icon which indicates flights that are compliant under the Fly America Act.
Training and Resources
We also highly recommend completing this self-paced Travel on Sponsored Awards (LINK) e-module which covers Fly America, Open Skies as well as regulations and documentation required for other travel related expenses.
For a quick guide, please see the Fly America, Open Skies and City Pair Matrix