U.S. Flag Air Carrier is defined as an airline company that is registered in the United States. At this time the U.S. Flag Air Carriers are American, Delta, United, Continental and US Airways.

Fly America Act is a requirement of the federal government and applies to all travel funded by United States federal government funds and requires the use of "U.S. flag" airlines with a few exceptions.

Open Skies Agreement, as it pertains to the University, is a bilateral or multilateral air transport agreement between the U.S. and the government of a foreign country with limitations.

Per UC Business and Finance Bulletin G-28, under the Fly America Act, only U.S. air carriers* can be used for travel reimbursements from federal grants and contracts even if the cost of using the U.S. air carrier is more expensive than a foreign air carrier.

Exceptions must be documented on the Fly America Act Exception Form signed by the traveler certifying:

  • Use of a U.S. carrier would extend travel time by 24 hours or more
  • U.S. carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination.  Effort should be made to use a U.S. carrier on every portion of the route where the U.S. carrier provides service unless, when compared to the foreign carrier, the use would:
    • Increase in the number of aircraft changes outside the U.S. by two or more; or
    • Extend travel time by at least 6 hours or more; or
    • Require a connecting time of 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point
  • Use of the foreign carrier is covered under the Open Skies Agreement.

Please note the use of the Open Skies Agreement for travel funded by the federal government does have limitations:

  • If points of travel are part of the GSA’s City Pair Program (even though these city pairs are not available to the University), the traveler must use a U.S. Flag air carrier
  • Transportation is obtained or funded by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department

*Code-sharing agreements with foreign air carriers, whereby U.S. carriers purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier, comply with the Fly America Act as long as the ticket/electronic ticket identifies the U.S. carrier’s designator code and flight number.

Departments with Federal funds:

  • Ensure that everyone involved with booking air travel is aware of the Fly America Act.
  • When the travel will be reimbursed from federal funds, ensure U.S. Flag Air Carriers are used. 
    • It is highly recommended that reservations are made using Connexxus Premier Gateway Consolidator Fares.
    • Please be sure to check all U.S. Flag Air Carriers and not just the traveler’s preferred airline.
  • If U.S. Flag Air Carriers will not be used:
    • Document the exceptional circumstance
    • Obtain traveler’s certification of the exception
    • Attach the certification to the travel expense voucher. 

To avoid delays in reimbursing the traveler:

  • If the exception is related to the Open Skies Agreement, ensure the origin/destination is not part of the GSA’s City-Pair Program by performing a search of the federal website: GSA City Pair Search.  A screen shot of the search is recommended as part of the exception documentation.
  • Remember the Open Skies Agreement cannot be used if the travel is funded by a contract or grant funded by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department.