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Allowances > Frequently Asked Questions > Fly America Act

Fly America Act U.S. Flag Carrier
Use Applicable to Department of Defense Travelers
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: 01 January 2018

  1. When must DoD travelers use U.S. flag carrier service?
  2. What is the Fly America Act?
  3. How do the various 'Open Skies' agreements with foreign nations affect the Fly America Act applicable to DoD travelers?
  4. When is U.S. Flag Carrier service available?
  5. When is U.S.-certificated air carrier service not available?
  6. When is a traveler required to provide transportation non-availability documentation?
  7. If a traveler has been authorized/approved to travel using non-U.S.-certificated air carrier service and the only available accommodations are other than economy/coach (e.g., First and Business) – class, does the traveler still need authorization/approval to travel using other than economy/coach class accommodations?
  8. When using code share flights involving U.S.-certificated air carriers and non-U.S. - certificated air carriers, what flight number must be used on the ticket?
  9. Does the Fly America Act mandate travel across the CONUS when traveling between two OCONUS locations?
  10. What is the traveler's financial liability if a non-U.S. certificated (foreign) air carrier is improperly used?

 

1. When must DoD travelers use U.S. flag carrier service?

Available U.S. flag carriers must be used by DoD travelers for all commercial air transportation of persons or property when the U.S. Government funds the air travel IAW 49 USC §40118, commonly referred to as the "Fly America Act", and GAO decision B-138942, 31 March 1981, with some exceptions. See JTR, par. 020206.I.

2. What is the Fly America Act?

The "Fly America Act" refers to the provisions enacted by section 5 of the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93-624, Jan. 3, 1975), 49 U.S.C. App. 1517, as amended by section 21 of the International Air Transportation Competition Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-192, Feb. 15, 1980) which mandates the use of U.S. flag carriers for federally funded international travel.  The Fly America Act generally requires that all foreign air travel funded by Federal dollars be performed on U.S. flag carriers unless a reasonable exception is applied.

3. How do the various 'Open Skies' agreements with foreign nations affect the Fly America Act applicable to DoD travelers?

The various 'Open Skies' agreements allow certain foreign nations' airlines the right to transport passengers and cargo on scheduled or charter flights for U. S. Government procured transportation. These agreements do not apply to DoD travelers unless their travel is funded by a non-DoD agency according to that Agency's or Service's policy if a city pair flight is not available for the scheduled official travel between the origin and destination. The agreement is not valid for travel funded by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department (DoD travelers and other civilians traveling on DoD funds) per DoD policy. See Q10/A10 of this FAQ series.

4. When is U.S. Flag Carrier service available?

A U.S. flag carrier service is available if:

a. the carrier performs the required commercial air transportation, and

b. the service accomplishes the mission, even though a:

    1. comparable or different kind of service by a non-U.S. flag carrier costs less, or
    2. non-U.S. flag carrier service is preferred by the service/traveler, or
    3. non-U.S. flag carrier service is more convenient for the service/traveler, or
    4. U.S. flag carrier service is available between points in the CONUS or non-foreign OCONUS location and foreign OCONUS points (49 USC §40102) requires boarding or leaving the carrier between midnight and 6 a.m. Travel spanning those hours (a brief non-work period not to exceed 24 hours may be authorized/approved, for "acclimatization rest" at the destination as well as per diem during the rest period when the destination is other than the traveler's PDS) (56 Comp. Gen 629 (1977)).  See JTR, par. 020206.I.

5. When is U.S. Flag Carrier service not available?

U.S. flag carrier service is not available if one of the following exceptions exists:

  1. Foreign air carrier service is deemed a necessity when service by a U.S. flag carrier is available, but
    1. cannot provide the air transportation needed; or
    2. will not accomplish the agency's mission; or
    3. the agency determines that use of a foreign air carrier is necessary for medical reasons, including use of foreign air carrier service to reduce the number of connections and possible delays in the transportation of persons in need of medical treatment; or
    4. use of a foreign air carrier is required to avoid an unreasonable risk to the traveler's safety and is approved by the AO (e.g., terrorist threats).  Written approval of foreign air carrier service use based on an unreasonable risk to the traveler's safety must be provided by the AO on a case by case basis.  A travel advisory notice issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or the Department of State must support an agency determination and approval of non-U.S. flag carrier use based on a threat against a U.S. flag carrier.  An agency determination and approval of use of a foreign air carrier based on a threat against Government employees or other travelers must be supported by evidence of the threat(s) that form the basis of the determination and approval; or
    5. when a ticket in the authorized class of service on a U.S. flag carrier cannot be purchased, and a seat is available in the authorized class of service on a foreign air carrier.
  2. The transportation is provided under a bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreement to which the United States Government and the government of a foreign country are parties, and which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the Fly America Act requirements.
  3. No U.S. flag carrier provides service on a particular leg of the route, in which case foreign air carrier service may be used, but only to or from the nearest interchange point on a usually traveled route to connect with U.S. flag carrier service; or
  4. A U.S. flag carrier involuntarily reroutes a traveler on a non-U.S. flag carrier; (if the traveler is given a choice as to substitute service, a U.S. flag carrier should be selected if it does not unduly delay the travel) (59 Comp. Gen. 223 (1980)).
  5. The traveler's transportation is paid for in full by a non-Federal source according to the Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), DoD 5500.7-R, or Service regulations for non-DoD Services.
  6. Non-U.S. flag carrier service would be three hours or less, and U.S. flag carrier use would at least double en route travel time.
  7. When the transportation cost is reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government, international agency, or other organization.
  8. The total delay, including delay in travel initiation from a TDY point, in en route travel and additional time at the TDY station before the traveler can proceed with assigned duties, involves more than 48 hours per diem costs in excess of per diem that would be incurred if non U.S. flag service was used (56 Comp. Gen. 216 (1977)).
  9. The only U.S. flag carrier service between foreign OCONUS points requires boarding or leaving the carrier between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., or travel spanning those hours, and a non-U.S. flag carrier is available that does not require travel at those hours.  The traveler may travel by non-U.S. flag carrier to the nearest practicable interchange point on a usually traveled route to connect with a U.S. flag carrier. (56 Comp. Gen. 629 (1977)).
  10. If a U.S. flag carrier offers nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) from origin to destination, U.S. flag carrier service use is required unless such use would extend travel time, including delay at origin, by 24 or more hours.
  11. If a U.S. flag carrier does not offer nonstop or direct service (no aircraft change) between origin and destination, use a U.S. flag carrier on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:
    1. increase the number of aircraft changes the traveler must make outside of the U.S. by 2 or more changes.
    2. extend the traveler's travel time by at least 6 or more hours.
require a connecting time of 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point.

6. When is a traveler required to provide transportation non-availability documentation?

Transportation non-availability documentation is required when the AO determines a U.S. flag carrier is unavailable and authorizes or approves commercial air transportation on a non-U.S. flag carrier. Documentation explaining why U.S. flag carrier service is not available must be provided to the traveler. An endorsement on the travel authorization or Government travel procurement document, made according to Service regulations, is acceptable. The documentation should include the traveler's name, non-U.S. flag ship(s) or air carrier(s) used, flight identification number(s), origin, destination and en route points, date(s), justification, and authorizing or approving official's title, organization and signature.

7. If a traveler has been authorized or approved to travel using non-U.S. flag carrier service and the only available accommodations are 'other than economy or coach' (e.g., First and Business), does the traveler still need authorization or approval to travel using other than economy or coach accommodations?

Yes, see JTR, par. 020206.J to determine whose authority is required for Government-funded 'other than economy or coach' transportation to be provided.

8. When using code share flights involving U.S. flag carriers and non-U.S. flag carriers, what flight number must be used on the ticket?

When using code share flights (two or more airlines having flight numbers assigned to the same flight) involving U.S. flag carriers and non-U.S. flag carriers, the airline symbol and flight number of the U.S. flag carrier must be used on the ticket to qualify as a U.S. flag carrier.  If the flight number of the non-U.S. flag carrier is used on the ticket, the ticket is on a non-U.S. flag carrier and a non-availability of U.S. flag carrier document is needed.

9. Does the Fly America Act' mandate travel across the CONUS when traveling between two OCONUS locations?

No. The 'Fly America Act' does not mandate travel across the CONUS when traveling between two OCONUS locations. For instance, travel from Europe may be routed in an easterly direction to Asia instead of west via CONUS.  When it is determined that a U.S. flag carrier is or was not reasonably available for the most direct, usually-traveled route between two OCONUS locations, use of a non-U.S. flag carrier may be authorized or approved (adopted from GSBCA 16632-RELO, 15 July 2005)).

10. What is the traveler's financial liability if a non-U.S. flag air carrier is improperly used?

There is no reimbursement (for any leg of the journey) for transportation cost when unauthorized or unapproved non-U.S. flag carrier service is used. If U.S. flag carrier service is available for an entire trip and the traveler uses a non-U.S. flag carrier for any part or the entire trip, the transportation cost on the non-U.S. flag carrier is not payable.  See JTR, par. 020206.I.

 

     
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