Fly America Act - Use of U.S. Air Carriers


Federal Travel Regulations require that U.S. carriers must be used for travel that is to be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts. This policy is called the Fly America Act. Allowable exceptions are noted below.

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.

Before making arrangements for air travel for UC Irvine 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, 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.

A list of countries the U.S. has Open Skies agreements with is available at the U.S. State Department website.

Note: When one or more of the above circumstances apply, an explanation indicating the appropriate exception must be provided on the Travel Reimbursement document.

To determine if a foreign carrier may be used under the Open Skies Agreements, follow this criteria in the order listed:

  • Criteria #1
    Is the sponsor funding the travel a department under the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department?
    • This includes: Dept. of Air Force, Dept. of Army, Dept. of Navy, Dept. of Defense, plus any other defense department. In addition, if these departments are the prime sponsor for a sub-contract, the rule still applies.
    • If:
      • Yes. Stop here. The Open Skies Agreement is not applicable. Please see the Fly America Act (begins pg. 61).
      • No. Continue to Criteria #2.
  • Criteria #2
    Is the air transportation between a point in the United States and any point in a member state (e.g. a country within the European Union or certain other countries, please see Open Skies Partner List), or between two points outside of the United States?
    • If:
      • Yes. Continue to Criteria #3.
      • No. Stop here. The air travel does not apply to the Open Skies Agreement. Please see the Fly America Act (begins pg. 61).
  • Criteria #3
    Does the selected airline belong to a country that is a current Open Skies Partner? See the Open Skies Partner List. (Please be aware that this list is dated and changes do occur.)
    • If:
      • Yes. The cost of this air travel may be charged to the federal award benefited by this flight.
      • No. Stop here. The travel does not apply to the Open Skies Agreement. Please see the Fly America Act (begins pg. 61).

Need an expert? Contact Hanieh Abedini, Compliance Officer, (949) 824-6894.

Notice: University policies, procedures and applicable collective bargaining agreements shall supersede information in this document or elsewhere on this site.


Code-Sharing Agreements with Foreign Air Carriers

Some American carriers have code-sharing agreements with foreign air carriers whereby they purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier.

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 XXX operated by Foreign Air Carrier.” For example:

  • Allowable: American Airlines (AA) 1234 operated by Qantas Airways (QF) 4321 – American Airlines ticket begins with 001, ticketed by an American air carrier.
  • Unallowable: QF 4321 operated by AA 1234 – Qantas Airways ticket begins with 081, NOT ticketed by an American air carrier.

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 G-28 travel policy, the more restrictive policy applies.