Ohio University

Sponsor Travel Guidance

Lowest Economy Airfare

Airfare other than lowest economy (ex. business or economy upgrade) is not allowable on Sponsored Funds unless an exception is met and documented. Federal regulations (2 CFR §200.474.3(d)) require that airfare costs in excess of the lowest economy fare class are unallowable except when the latter 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.

Exceptions for business-class or upgraded economy airfare must meet one of these criteria and be justified and documented to be allowable on a sponsored award. These exceptions require documentation and written approval by the Grants Accounting Office.

Please note that Ohio University Policy & Procedure is consistent with this policy and does not allow for an airfare upgrade.

Fly America Requirements and Overview

All international travel, funded by the federal government must be in compliance with the Fly America Act.  The Fly America Act dictates 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. This regulation must be followed by all OHIO personnel, students, trainees, consultants and collaborators who are reimbursed for air travel with federally primed or federal pass through funds

Please see Fly America Act and Open Skies Agreements Guidance (Word) for further information on U.S Flag Air carriers, Fly America Act Waiver Checklist, and a flow chart on air travel from the US to a foreign country on Federal funds.

It is highly recommended that you book your international travel, when federally funded, through the university travel management company. This travel company is well versed in the Fly America Act. Please be sure to advise them that your trip is federally funded.

It is the Principal Investigator’s (PI) or his/her designee’s responsibility to ensure that all air travel charged to federally primed or federal pass through awards are in compliance with this regulation.

OHIO  requires travelers who will be reimbursed from federal grants or contracts to use U.S. flag air carrier service, consistent with the Fly America Act. Some of the exceptions that may apply include:

  1. When the use of U.S. carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more;
  2. When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency; and
  3. When U.S. carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination.

However, a U.S. carrier must be used on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:

  • Increase the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more
  • Extend travel time by at least six hours or more
  • Require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point

Note that U.S. carriers must be used even if foreign carriers offer tickets at a lower price, offer preferred routing, or are more convenient.

Any exception to Fly America must be justified and documented to be allowable on a federal award. These exceptions require documentation and written approval by the Grants Accounting Office and approved exceptions must be documented in the Concur report.

Open Skies

An additional exception to Fly America occurs when an Open Skies agreement is in place between the United States (U.S.) government and the government of a foreign country. There are currently four Open Skies agreements - with the European Union, Australia, Switzerland and Japan. It should be noted that there are limitations to the use of non-US carriers under an Open Skies agreement notably that the current Open Skies agreements do not apply to Department of Defense-supported activities and there is a prohibition against non-US carriers if a City Pairs agreement exists.

Code Share

Please note that Code-Sharing agreements with foreign air carriers, whereby American carriers purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier, comply with the Fly America Act Regulations. The ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, must identify the U.S. carrier's designator code and flight number. However, some funding sources may not recognize code-sharing as being compliant with Fly America Act regulations. When the specific funding source policy is more restrictive than the Fly America Act, the more restrictive policy applies.