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Determining Allowable Airfare Class

Per the University Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, Policy 4030 “Travel”, specifically section 8.2 “Commercial Airlines”:

“The University will pay the cost of commercial airline travel, including luggage fees, at the  lowest available rate at the time of the reservation based on a reasonable flight schedule, except as outlined below. Travelers are encouraged to plan their travel far enough in advance to be able to receive the lowest available airfares. Travelers may always upgrade to other than coach-class accommodations at their personal expense, including through the redemption of frequent flyer benefits. Pursuant to federal regulations (FAR 52.247-63), transportation paid by a federal contract or grant must use American carriers whenever possible.” (Contextual emphasis added.)

In order to assist travelers, or other departmental personnel responsible for booking travel arrangements, in determining whether the airfare class under which tickets are being purchased is allowable per this policy, a chart has been developed to detail the various airfare classes offered by the most commonly used major U.S. airlines. Click here to access the chart. 

Please note that if an airline other than those listed on the chart is being used, the individual purchasing the ticket is responsible for determining whether the airfare class being purchased is appropriate. Also, due to the fluid nature of airfare classes offered by airlines, this chart will be updated twice annually. This chart is only intended as an aid to departments based on current airline information. Every Travel Reimbursement request submitted is subject to separate review.

Allowable exceptions to the “lowest available rate” requirement are detailed in Policy 4030 sub-section 8.2.1 “Exceptions for Class of Air Service:

“Flying business class when conducting University business is allowed only under the following extenuating circumstances:

  • Where the origin or destination is outside the United States and the scheduled flight time, including stopovers and change of planes, is in excess of 14 hours and the traveler will be engaged in business activities the following day or sooner.  This does not include time spent at the originating and ultimate arrival airports.
  • When the use of business class results in an overall savings to the University by avoiding additional subsistence costs or lost productive time.
  • When the use of business class is necessary to accommodate a documented medical disability or other special need.

Premium economy class (which airlines refer to by several similar names) is allowed for international travel flights consisting of five (5) hours or more of total travel time.

When claiming an airfare class as noted in section 8.2.1, sufficient documentation must be provided to show compliance with the policy.