Air Transportation

Air Transportation
Type of Policy
Administrative
jbarber32 Thu, 06/07/2012 - 16:23
Policy No
6.6
Last Revised
Review Date
Policy Owner
Accounts Payable
Contact Name
Abbie Coker
Contact Title
Director of Accounts Payable & Travel
Contact Email
abbie.coker@business.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy

The purpose of this policy is to outline air transportation requirements to Georgia Tech employees traveling on official business in compliance with University System of Georgia, State Accounting Office and Georgia Tech travel policies.

Policy Statement

Travel by an air carrier must be in the most cost-effective manner and utilize the lowest possible coach fares consistent with scheduling requirements, unless cost exceptions meet the requirements outlined in this Policy.

Business Class Airfare
Business Class Airfare is not reimbursable for domestic flights with the exception of travel to Alaska and Hawaii.  Business Class Airfare using State funds or other Georgia Tech funds (unless specifically restricted) is only permissible in the following circumstances:

  1. For international flights with appropriate travel authority approvals.
  2. There is no other space available on the needed flight (supporting documentation from a travel agency must be included with the travel reimbursement request). 
  3. A licensed medical practitioner certifies that because of a person's mental or physical condition, specific air travel arrangements are required. It is the responsibility of Georgia Tech officials to obtain necessary medical certifications for any employee that requires special air travel arrangements due to a medical condition. Information should also be obtained specifying the expected length of time such condition would have an impact on travel needs. Supporting documentation must be retained within the department.

These exceptions should be approved in advance and noted on the “justification” of the spend authorization and the “comments” of the expense report.

First Class Airfare
First Class travel is only permissible if approved, in the following circumstances: 

  1. There is no other space available on the needed flight (supporting documentation from a travel agency must be included with the travel reimbursement request). 
  2. A licensed medical practitioner certifies that because of a person's mental or physical condition, specific air travel arrangements are required. It is the responsibility of Georgia Tech officials to obtain necessary medical certifications for any employee that requires special air travel arrangements due to a medical condition. Information should also be obtained specifying the expected length of time such condition would have an impact on travel needs. Supporting documentation must be retained within the department.
  3. The Commissioner of Public Safety certifies that specific air travel arrangements are necessary for security reasons. 
  4. For international flights with appropriate travel authority approvals (please see First/Business Class Airfare – International Travel section below). 


These exceptions should be approved in advance and noted on the “justification” of the spend authorization and the “comments” of the expense report.

First / Business Class Airfare – International Travel

In certain circumstances, Georgia Tech Foundation (GTF) funds, Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) funds, Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation (GTARC) funds or sponsored funds may permit reimbursement or direct payment of first/business class airfare for international travel, with appropriate travel authority approvals, that is not reimbursable with State funds. 

Business Class Airfare with Georgia Tech Foundation (GTF) Funds

Business class airfare for international flights that are pre-approved by the appropriate unit officer in accordance with Georgia Tech’s Authorization of Travel policy may be processed through Georgia Tech using GTF funds.  An expense report is used for reimbursement with appropriate receipts and approvals.  Direct billing is available through the Georgia Tech’s travel management company.

Direct reimbursement through the Georgia Tech Foundation is an exception that must be approved by the President, Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs or Executive Vice President for Research.

Business Class Airfare with Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) or Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation (GTARC) Funds

Business class airfare for international flights that are pre-approved by the appropriate unit officer in accordance with Georgia Tech’s Authorization of Travel policy may be processed directly through Georgia Tech using GTRC, GTARC, or sponsored project funds, if these funds specifically allow the use of business class airfare for international travel. Direct billing is also available through the Georgia Tech’s travel management company.

Airline Frequent Flyer Programs

Travelers may retain loyalty and frequent flyer program benefits. However, participation in these programs must not influence flight selection, which would result in incremental cost to Georgia Tech beyond the lowest available airfare, as defined in the policy.  Georgia Tech does not reimburse for the value of any rewards or benefits used by Travelers from loyalty programs.

Payment of Airfare

Travel expenses are reimbursed upon completion of the trip and submission of an approved expense report. Airfare can be direct billed to Georgia Tech through Georgia Tech’s travel management company. In either case, an itinerary showing the dates of travel, seat assignment, method of payment, including purchase price and receipt must be presented when submitting an expense report.  Airfare reimbursements involving study abroad, student group travel and extended research/employment assignments may be reimbursed prior to the trip under certain circumstances. Requests to be reimbursed prior to the trip must include the following documentation: 

  • Explanation for using a travel agency other than Georgia Tech’s travel management company; and 
  • Price quotes from Georgia Tech’s travel management company and the travel agency from which the tickets were purchased.  

Direct Billing of Airfare for Travelers

Georgia Tech has an agreement with a travel management company (Travel Inc.) to arrange for the prepayment of air travel for Travelers.  Travelers must obtain approval to direct bill prior to reserving airline tickets. Applicable forms are located on the forms webpage of the Procurement & Business Services website at https://procurement.gatech.edu/travel/forms. Please refer to the Travel web page located on the Procurement & Business Services website for further details.

Direct Billing of Airfare for Students/Visitors

The direct billing of airfare is available for official guests, visitors, students, and independent contractors who travel on behalf of Georgia Tech. The department is to contact Georgia Tech’s travel management company to make the travel arrangements for the direct billing. Approval to travel must be obtained prior to booking reservations for any airline ticket. Please refer to the Travel web page located on the Procurement & Business Services website for further details.

Refunds

Travelers must not accept refunds for airline tickets unless they have personally paid for the tickets. Refunds for tickets issued by Georgia Tech’s travel management company and charged to Georgia Tech must be refunded directly to Georgia Tech. A credit will be applied to the original department’s account used to purchase the ticket. Travelers that receive payment or reimbursement for air fare from a third-party, sponsor, or conference, must not seek reimbursement for airfare from Georgia Tech.  If the Traveler is reimbursed for an airline ticket after the Traveler has been reimbursed by Georgia Tech, the Traveler must write a personal check (made payable to Georgia Tech) in the amount of the ticket reimbursement and send it along with a copy of the expense report summary sheet to Accounts Payable, Mail Code 0253. Accounts Payable will deposit the funds back into the appropriate department account.  

Private Aircraft

The use of aircraft owned, rented, or operated by a traveler on Georgia Tech business is strongly discouraged. If it is determined that the use of this type of aircraft is advantageous to Georgia Tech, an explanation must be noted in the comments section of the expense report. The use of private aircraft is subject to prior approval by the Dean, Director, or Department Head and must be specifically noted on the spend authorization. In the comments section of the Employee Travel Expense Report the employee should add the following comment “traveled by private aircraft” and provide the registration number of the aircraft and mileage as calculated from U.S. Department of Transportation website.

Transportation expenses for the use of private aircraft will be at the mileage reimbursement rate determined by the U. S General Services Administration (GSA). Mileage rates are only changed upon notification from the State Accounting Office. New rates are not applied based solely on GSA updates. 

Lodging and meal expenses en route will not be reimbursed if the expenses are a direct result of the decision to take a personal aircraft, rather than commercial aircraft. 

If a Traveler opts to use a personal aircraft when use of commercial aircraft would be the most economical and cost effective for Georgia Tech, the Traveler will be reimbursed up to the value of the commercial airfare (lowest coach fare) as quoted by Georgia Tech’s travel management company. 

Transaction Fees / Service Fees

The transaction or service fees associated with booking airfare are authorized items for reimbursement.  Additionally, baggage fees, change fees, etc. associated with official business are reimbursable.  

Fly America Act

All federally funded travel must comply with the U.S. “Fly America Act” (49 U.S.C. 40118). The Fly America Act mandates the use of U.S. flag carriers for federally funded international travel to / from the United States. This includes United States federal employees, their dependents, consultant, contractors, and others.

Scope

All Georgia Tech employees (faculty, staff, and students).

Policy Terms

Traveler

Employees (students, faculty, and staff) traveling on behalf of Georgia Tech.

Responsibilities
5.1.Traveler

The Traveler is responsible for ensuring appropriate travel authorization, supporting documentation and appropriate approval is obtained prior to the first day of travel.

Travelers are also responsible for verifying appropriate travel class is reserved, and for ensuring any personal or external professional activities have been excluded from the reimbursement.

5.2. Expense Preparer

An expense preparer may book travel reservations on behalf of the Traveler and is responsible for ensuring appropriate spend authorization and all required supporting documentation is obtained prior to the first day of travel.The expense preparer is also responsible for ensuring appropriate travel class is reserved and for ensuring the traveler excludes any personal or external professional activities from the reimbursement. 

5.3.Approvers

Managers and supervisors, or their delegates, are responsible for:

  • Verifying the business purpose of the trip;
  • Verifying the trip is allowable;
  • Verifying the reasonableness of the cost of the trip;
  • Verifying the travel class is compliant with Georgia Tech and USG policies;
  • Verifying all required supporting documentation is submitted.
Enforcement

Travelers who are in violation of this Policy are at risk of not receiving reimbursement for travel expenses.

To report suspected instances of ethical violations, please visit Georgia Tech’s Ethics Hotline a secure and confidential reporting system, at: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=7508

Policy History

Revision Date

Author

Description

12/2020

Accounts Payable

Updated to align with Workday implementation.

10/2017

Accounts Payable

Policy Updates.