Fly America Act
The Fly America Act 49 U.S.C. 40118 is a federal regulation that states that any foreign air travel that is financed by federal funds must be booked on U.S. Flag Air Carriers, regardless of cost or convenience. Foreign flag air carriers may not be used solely on the basis of cost. This rule must be followed by all USA personnel, students, trainees, consultants and collaborators who are reimbursed for foreign air travel with federal, including federal pass through funds.
It is the Principal Investigator’s (PI) or his/her designee’s responsibility to ensure that all foreign travel charged to federal prime or federal pass through awards are in compliance with this regulation.
What does United States mean? 301-10.131
For purposes of the use of United States flag air carriers, United States means the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States (49 U.S.C. 40102).
Who is required to use a U.S. flag air carrier? 301-10.132
Anyone whose air travel is financed by U.S. Government funds, except as provided in 301-10.135, 301-10.136, and 301-10.137.
What is a U.S. flag air carrier? 301-10.133
An air carrier which holds a certificate under 49 U.S.C. 41102 but does not include a foreign air carrier operating under a permit.
What is U.S. flag air carrier service? 301-10.134
U.S. flag air carrier service is service provided on an air carrier which holds a certificate under 49 U.S.C. 41102 and which service is authorized either by the carrier's certificate or by exemption or regulation. U.S. flag air carrier service also includes service provided under a code share agreement with a foreign air carrier in accordance with Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations when the ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, identifies the U.S. flag air carrier's designator code and flight number.
When must I travel using U.S. flag air carrier service?
301-10.135 You are required by 49 U.S.C. 40118, commonly referred to as the "Fly America Act," to use U.S. flag air carrier service for all air travel funded by the U.S. Government, except as provided in 301-10.136 and 301-10.137 or when one of the following exceptions applies: (a) Use of a foreign air carrier is determined to be a matter of necessity in accordance with 301- 10.138;
(b) The transportation is provided under a bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreement to which the United States Government and the government of a foreign country are parties, and which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirements of the Fly America Act.
(1) Information on bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreements impacting United States Government procured transportation can be accessed at: http://www.gsa.gov/openskies; and,
(2) If determined appropriate, GSA may periodically issue FTR Bulletins providing further guidance on bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreements impacting United States Government procured transportation. These bulletins may be accessed at: http://www.gsa.gov/bulletins.
(c) You are an officer or employee of the Department of State, United States Information Agency, United States International Development Cooperation Agency, or the Arms Control Disarmament Agency, and your travel is paid with funds appropriated to one of these agencies and your travel is between two places outside the United States;
(d) No U.S. flag air carrier provides service on a particular leg of the route, in which case, foreign air carrier service may be used, but only to or from the nearest interchange point on a usually traveled route to connect with U.S. flag air carrier service;
(e) A U.S. flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes your travel on a foreign air carrier;
(f) Service on a foreign air carrier would be three hours or less, and use of the U.S. flag air carrier would at least double your en route travel time;
(g) When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government, international agency, or other organization.
What exceptions to the Fly America Act requirements apply when I travel between the United States and another country? 301-10.136
The exceptions are:
(a) If a U.S. flag air carrier offers nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) from your origin to your destination, you must use the U.S. flag air carrier service unless such use would extend your travel time, including delay at origin, by 24 hours or more.
(b) If a U.S. flag air carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) between your origin and your destination, you must use a U.S. flag air carrier on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would; (
1) Increase the number of aircraft changes you must make outside of the U.S. by 2 or more; or
(2) Extend your travel time by at least 6 hours or more; or
(3) Require a connecting time of 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point.
What exceptions to the Fly America Act requirements apply when I travel solely outside the United States, and a U.S. flag air carrier provides service between my origin and destination? 301- 10.137
You must always use a U.S. flag carrier for such travel unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:
(a) Increase the number of aircraft changes you must make en route by 2 or more;
(b) Extend your travel time by 6 hours or more;
(c) Require a connecting time of 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point.
What exceptions to the Fly America Act requirements apply when I travel solely outside the In what circumstances is foreign air carrier service deemed a matter of necessity? 301-10.138
(a) Foreign air carrier service is deemed a necessity when service by a U.S. flag air carrier is available, but
(1) Cannot provide the air transportation needed;
(2) Will not accomplish the agency's mission.
(b) Necessity includes, but is not limited to the following circumstances:
(1) When the agency determines that use of a foreign air carrier is necessary for medical reasons, including use of foreign air carrier service to reduce the number of connections and possible delays in the transportation of persons in need of medical treatment;
(2) When use of a foreign air carrier is required to avoid an unreasonable risk to your safety (e.g., terrorist threats) and is approved by your agency. Written approval of the use of foreign air carrier service based on an unreasonable risk to your safety must be approved by your agency on a case-by-case basis. An agency determination and approval of use of a foreign air carrier based on a threat against a U.S. flag air carrier must be supported by a travel advisory notice issued by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of State. An agency determination and approval of use of a foreign air carrier based on a threat against Government employees or other travelers must be supported by evidence of the threat(s) that form the basis of the determination and approval;
(3) When you cannot purchase a ticket in your authorized class of service on a U.S. flag air carrier, and a seat is available in your authorized class of service on a foreign air carrier.
May I travel by a foreign air carrier if the cost of my ticket is less than traveling by a U.S. flag air carrier? 301-10.139
No. Foreign air carrier service may not be used solely based on the cost of your ticket.
May I use a foreign air carrier if the service is preferred by or is more convenient for my agency or me? 301-10.140
No. You must use U.S. flag air carrier service, unless you meet one of the exceptions in 301-10.135, 301-10.136, or 301-10.137; or unless foreign air carrier service is deemed a matter of necessity under 301-10.138.
Must I provide any special certification or documents if I use a foreign air carrier? 301-10.141
Yes, you must provide a certification, as required in section 301-10.142 and any other documents required by your agency. Your agency cannot pay your foreign air carrier if you do not provide the required certification.
What must the certification include? 301-10.142
The certification must include:
(a) Your name;
(b) The dates that you traveled;
(c) The origin and the destination of your travel;
(d) A detailed itinerary of your travel, name of the air carrier and flight number for each leg of the trip; and,
(e) A statement explaining why you met one of the exceptions in 301-10.135, 301-10.136, or 301- 10.137 or a copy of your agency's written approval that foreign air carrier service was deemed a matter of necessity in accordance with 301-10.138.
What is my liability if I improperly use a foreign air carrier? 301-10.143
You will not be reimbursed for any transportation cost for which you improperly use foreign air carrier service. If you are authorized by your agency to use U.S. flag air carrier service for your entire trip and you improperly use a foreign air carrier for any part of or the entire trip (i.e., when not permitted under this regulation) your transportation cost on the foreign air carrier will not be payable by your agency. If your agency authorizes you to use U.S. flag air carrier service for part of your trip and foreign air carrier service for another part of your trip, and you improperly use a foreign air carrier (i.e., when neither authorized to do so nor otherwise permitted under this regulation) your agency will pay the transportation cost on the foreign air carrier for only the portion(s) of the trip for which you were authorized to use foreign air carrier service. The agency must establish internal procedures for denying reimbursement to travelers when use of a foreign air carrier was neither authorized nor otherwise permitted under this regulation.
Open Skies Agreement:
The biggest exception to the Fly America Act is the Open Skies Agreement. On October 6, 2010, the United States and European Union (EU) “Open Skies” Air Transport Agreement was published by the U.S. General Services Administration providing full explanation of the multilateral agreement in place so that qualifying travelers, whose travel is supported by federal funds, may travel on European Union airlines as well as U.S. Flag Air Carriers. A list of current member countries of the European Union is available at the Europa.eu web site. There are also Open Skies agreement with Australia, Switzerland and Japan.
Open Skies Restriction:
If a City Pair contract is in place you are not allowed to travel on that country’s flag carrier. U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) City Pair Program is defined as negotiated discount international fares available to U.S government employees (the restriction applies even though the program is not available to grantees).
To check for a City Pair agreement visit: http://cpsearch.fas.gsa.gov/
What do these Open Skies Agreements mean to you?
- European Union:
- When traveling to a destination serviced by a European Union airline, USA travelers flying on a Federal grant can fly on either a US carrier or an EU (European Union) carrier.
- USA travelers using federal dollars can use an Australian airline only if a point of origin is either the US or Australia.
- USA travelers using federal dollars can use a Swiss airline only if a point of origin is either the US or Switzerland.
- USA travelers using federal dollars can use a Japanese airline only if a point of origin is either the US or Japan.
There are other exceptions to the Fly America Act which may be appropriate as well. A list of exception criteria may be found in the Federal Travel Regulation Guidelines – FTR sections 301- 10.135-138. Please remember that lower cost and personal convenience are not acceptable criteria for justifying the non- availability of a U.S. –flag air carrier.
Please note: Travelers using Department of Defense (DOD) are not permitted to take advantage of Open Sky Agreements. Travelers using DOD funds must use an American carrier, unless they qualify for an exemption as noted in FTR 301-10.135, sections (a), (d), (e), (f), and (g).
1. My PI is planning an international trip that is approved under his/her federal grant. What issues do I need to consider when booking the airfare?
The Fly America Act states that when using federal funds you must use U.S. Flag Air Carriers or flights operated under a U.S. code share agreement to travel to the foreign destination. The easiest way to ensure that you are flying on a U.S. Flag air carrier is to book your travel directly through Springdale Travel or the air carrier and request U.S. flag carrier ticket assignment. Using a travel website such as Expedia, Travelocity, LowestFares.com, etc. can cause confusion as these websites are designed to find the lowest fares and are not intended to find the U.S. Flag Carrier flights. The following website explains the Fly America Act in detail: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103191
2. Can airfare be booked using a travel website such as Expedia, Travelocity, LowestFares.com, etc. or a travel agent?
The best way to book the flight is to go directly through a U.S. Flag Air Carrier, but if you have to use a travel website or travel agency, then you should verify that the flights you are purchasing are being issued by the U.S. Flag Air Carrier. Travel agencies (including Springdale) are not aware of the source of funds you are using to pay for this travel and the need to fly on a U.S. Flag Air Carrier. Travel websites and travel agents typically try to find the lowest priced travel itinerary that meets your needs and this may not always be on a U.S. Flag Air Carrier. When booking travel, always make sure you let the travel agent know that you must fly on U.S. Flag Air Carriers. Contact OGCA for a review of specific flight itinerary prior to booking if you have questions or concerns.
3. Do trainees, students, consultants or other non-USA personnel have to follow the Fly America Act?
Yes, the Fly America Act must be utilized by all individuals that are seeking reimbursement for travel cost from a federally funded project. If trainees, students, consultants, collaborator or other non-USA personnel book travel on foreign air carriers, they will not be eligible for reimbursement from federal sources. International collaborators and consultants must also follow this regulation. Please make sure to work with international consultants prior to them making flight arrangements to ensure they are aware of this rule.
4. What is a Code Share flight?
The traveler is considered to be on a Code Share flight if he/she purchases a ticket from one carrier but flies on the aircraft carrier of another airline. This would be a ticket that is issued by a U.S. Air Carrier that states: “U.S. Air Carrier flight XXXX operated by Foreign Air Carrier”. There may be a list of code share partners on the U.S. Air Carrier website, however, not all flights on the partner airlines are operated under a code share agreement. Only flights booked properly though the code share are allowable.
Allowable: DL 7548 operated by AC 2498
Unallowable: AC 2498 operated by DL 7548
DL = Delta Air Lines
AC = Air Canada
5. Where can I find the Airline designator codes?
A good website to go to for determining the country of origin for the Air Carrier is: http://www.airlinecodes.co.uk/airlcodesearch.asp The easiest way to search this website is by populating the ‘Airline Name’ field. You can search for any airline and see the country associated with the airline: http://www.tvlon.com/resources/airlinecodes.htm This website shows a listing of all U.S. and Non- U.S. Flag Air Carriers.
6. In researching available flights, it was discovered that booking a flight on a foreign air carrier was substantially less than booking a flight on a U.S. Air Carrier. We want to save the grant money for other research related purposes. Is this an allowable exception to the Fly America Act.
No, the Fly America Act specifically states that cost cannot be considered as a factor.
7. My PI has already purchased a ticket to a foreign destination. The receipt has portions of the flight that are U.S. Flag Air Carriers and portions that are Non-U.S. Flag Air Carriers. Can the portions booked on the U.S. Flag Air Carriers be charged to the grant?
It depends on who issued the ticket or if there is a flight specific code share in place. If a U.S. Flag Air Carrier issued the ticket (printed on U.S. Air Carrier ticket/boarding pass/receipt) then the expense will, in most cases, be eligible for reimbursement. If the ticket is issued by a foreign air carrier (printed on foreign ticket/boarding pass/receipt), the ticket is not eligible for reimbursement on a Federal award even if there are portions of the flight that have a U.S. Air Carrier flight designator code as these would have been booked the wrong way through the code share process.
8. My PI traveled to a foreign destination. The flights within the U.S. were on U.S. Air Carriers with tickets issued by the U.S. Air Carrier and the flights to and/or within the foreign countries were on foreign carriers with tickets issued by the foreign carrier. Can the domestic flights be charged to the grant?
Yes, the domestic portions issued on tickets from U.S. Air Carriers can be charged to the Federal grant, however, the tickets issued by the foreign carriers may not be charged unless there were no U.S. Flag Air Carriers available to that destination. Please note that U.S. Flag Air Carriers must be used to the furthest point possible and you can only switch to the foreign carrier for the portion where there is no U.S. Flag Air Carrier available.
9. My PI has a conference in Paris and then he/she has to travel to London for a collaborator meeting at a subgrantee institution. The flights between Paris and London were booked on British Airways. Can this be reimbursed from the federal grant?
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.
10. Are there any exceptions to the Fly America Act?
Yes, there are very specific circumstances in which the use of a Non-U.S. Flag Air Carrier may be allowable.
a) If a U.S. carrier offers nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) between the U.S. and your foreign destination, you must use a U.S. flag air carrier unless such use would extend travel time by 24 hours or more.
b) If a U.S. carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) between the U.S. and your foreign destination, you must use a U.S. flag air carrier on every portion of the route unless the use of the U.S. flag carrier would:
1. increase the number of aircraft changes outside of the U.S. by two or more; or
2. require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point; or
3. extend your travel time by at least six hours or more.
c) If a U.S. carrier does not offer service on a particular leg of your travel route, a foreign air carrier may be used, but only to or from the nearest interchange point to connect with U.S. flag air carrier service.
d) Use of a foreign carrier is also acceptable when determined to be a matter of necessity:
1. A U.S. flag carrier involuntarily reroutes travel on a foreign air carrier;
2. medical reasons;
3. to avoid unreasonable risk to traveler’s safety; or
4. a seat on U.S. air carrier in authorized class of service is unavailable, and a seat on the foreign air carrier in authorized class of service is available.
It is suggested that you contact OGCA prior to booking the travel if you feel that you qualify for one of the exceptions. A full explanation of exceptions can be found in FTR sections 301-10.135-138. We also request that you document your exceptions using the form found on our website. OGCA will review the specific travel scenario to help determine if it meets the exceptions.
Please contact Julie Schwindt at 6-1379 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Lacy Fetters at 6-1879 or email@example.com for inquiries about the Fly America Act or review of a specific travel scenario.