Air travel

Travelers are expected to use the lowest-priced available, appropriate, coach-class airfare. First class or other premium airfare may be used only when no reasonable alternative is available.

Reimbursable expenses:  Please keep and submit all receipts.
Requests for reimbursement for airplane tickets should be supported by the passenger's portion of the airline ticket or an e-ticket. Any other documentation should be attached to the Travel Form that shows reasonable proof that the trip was made (e.g. airline receipt). Requests for reimbursement for first class or other premium accommodations must be supported by explanatory statements and supporting documentation. When the PI is also the traveler, there must be a counter-signature from PI's chair, dean, or Associate Provost for Research to attest to the fact that the travel was appropriate. 

  • Airplane tickets (including taxes).
    • In compliance with the Fly America Act, all air travel on federally funded projects (federal grants, contracts and subgrants) must be on a U.S. flag air carrier. For more information, see Fly America Act.
    • Per OMB requirements, "Airfare costs in excess of the customary standard commercial airfare (coach or equivalent), Federal Government contract airfare, or the lowest commercial discount airfare are allowable except when such accommodations would":
      • require circuitous routing;
      • require travel during unreasonable hours
      • excessively prolong travel;
      • result in additional costs that would offset the transportation savings; or
      • offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the traveler's medical needs. In order for first-class airfare to be allowable, the institution must justify and document these conditions.
  • Tolls, parking, and mileage related to airplane travel (e.g., travel to and from and parking at the airport).
  • Trip cancellation insurance -reimbursement is allowed for protection against changes in travel plans (e.g., airfare refundable insurance), provided it is reasonably cost-beneficial. It is noted that non-refundable airline tickets must not be charged to a sponsored program award if a trip is canceled.
  • Travel insurance - While traveling internationally on RF business, employees and their immediate family members may be covered under the RF's blanket international travel assistance coverage, subject to the limitations and exceptions when using the RF's International insurance program. For additional information, refer to International Travel section and International Travel Assistance - Administrative Guide

Non-reimbursable expenses: 

  • Airline club memberships -reimbursement for memberships in airline and airport clubs is not permissible; however, purchase of a one-day airline or airport membership may be reimbursed, provided there is a justifiable and substantiated business purpose for the use of the membership, such as a meeting or conference call or lengthy travel delay that necessitates use of facilities for business purposes.
  • Early-bird check-in option - reimbursement of fees for early-bird check-in or other similar service is not permissible.
  • Upgrade seat charges - reimbursement for upgrade seats is not permissible unless deemed necessary, reasonable and appropriate due to special situations, such as a traveler's medical condition. Justification must be properly documented to the campus HR office for review.
  • Nonrefundable airline tickets - Nonrefundable airline tickets should not be charged to a sponsored program account if a trip is cancelled. According to OMB requirements, "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," a cost can be charged to a project if there is a direct benefit to the project. If the trip is cancelled, there is no benefit to the project. If in the future the principal investigator wants to pay the airline transfer fee and use the ticket for another purpose benefiting the project, then the cost of the ticket plus the transfer fee can be charged to the sponsored project.
  • Frequent flyer programs - Travelers may personally retain frequent flyer plan rewards that accrue from business travel; however, reimbursement is not permissible for travel expenses paid for with frequent flyer points or similar travel reward benefits (i.e., a traveler cannot be reimbursed for airline tickets purchased with non-cash frequent user points or travel rewards).

Revised 09/01/2015