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Flying on Federal Funds (Fly America Act)

Read about the Fly America Act, federal regulation that requires the use of U.S. carriers for travel that will be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts, including federal-flow-through contracts and grants.

Before making arrangements for air travel for UC San Diego business, find out about the funding type and, if applicable, ensure the booking is in accordance with the Act. If you feel an exception applies, consult with your business office as certification may be required. Compliance with the Fly America Act is the responsibility of each department.

Exceptions to the Fly America Act: Travel that is to be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts must be booked through U.S. carriers except in the following circumstances:

  • When the use of U.S. carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more
  • When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency
  • 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.
  • When an Open Skies agreement is in place (European Union (EU), Japan, Switzerland, and Australia). Use of a foreign carrier is allowed when transportation is between the U.S. and any point in the agreement member state or between two points outside the U.S. provided that:
    • Funding is not provided by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department.
    • No city pair fare exists
      • For the EU agreement, a non-U.S. government employee traveler is exempt from the city pair fare requirement, i.e. a foreign carrier may be used for travel to any point outside the U.S. but must land in an EU Open Skies agreement member state before traveling beyond the member states.

How to check if a city pair fare exists: Review the fare finder. If no city pair exists the fare finder response reads “Awards not found for the given criteria.”

Note: When one or more of the above circumstances apply, an explanation indicating the appropriate exception must be provided on the Concur Expense Report.

Code-sharing agreements with foreign air carriers 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 generally stated as “U.S. Air Carrier flight XXXX operated by Foreign Air Carrier.” For example:

  • Allowable: American Airlines (AA) 1234 operated by Quantas Airways (QF) 4321
  • Unallowable: QF 4321 operated by AA 1234

Note: Some funding sources may not recognize code-sharing as being compliant with Fly America Act regulations. When fund source policy is more restrictive than UC San Diego travel policy, the more restrictive policy applies.

Find answers, request services, or get help from our team at the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.
Notice: UC San Diego travel policy, as published in Blink, is decisive. It has been adapted to UC San Diego's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, chart of accounts and processing applications. The source for UC San Diego travel policy is UC Travel Policy and Regulations (PDF).