Policy Notes:  Fly America Act and Open Skies Exceptions (Federal Project Air Carrier Requirements)

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Fly America Act Requirements

The Fly America Act requires all flights charged to federal awards be booked with U.S. flag air carriers. Before making international flight travel plans, travelers need to confirm whether the funding source is sponsored or unsponsored. Usage of any sponsored award requires adherence to the Fly America Act. The requirement applies to all travelers, including a foreign visitor's flights when supported by federal funds. If a sponsored, non-federal award allows for other flights, documentation must be included that demonstrates that exception.

If there is no U.S. carrier to the destination, the traveler must take a U.S. carrier as far as possible. By law, additional cost for U.S. carrier flights is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. Flights not using federal or sponsored funds, may use any air carrier and should follow Stanford's air travel requirements.

Note: U.S. air carriers may designate foreign air carriers that codeshare with a U.S. flag carrier by showing as "operated by" on the flight taken.

The list of U.S. flag air carriers changes frequently. Travelers should check the airline's website to confirm that the airline is incorporated in the U.S. Following is a list of major U.S. carriers and their International Air Transport Association (IATA) airline codes:

See the list of major U.S. carriers and their International Air Transport Association (IATA) airline codes.

There are, however, exceptions to the Fly America Act when traveling to international destinations. Learn more about the Open Skies Agreements – Exceptions to Fly America Act for Specific International Destinations section on this page.

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Codesharing and Fly America Act

"Codesharing" is when an airline ticket is issued by one airline but operated by another. When a U.S. flag carrier leases seats on a foreign carrier and the ticketing code is from the U.S. airline, it meets the Fly America Act requirements. Any airline used by the U.S. Airline as a codeshare is approved.

For example, DL6717 for Delta Flight 6717 operated by Aeroflot Russian Airlines meets the requirements for Fly America Act. The same flight purchased as AEROFLOT Russian Airlines 107 does not meet Fly America Act requirements. An itinerary, invoice or boarding pass normally provides proof of codeshare. If there is no documentation showing the U.S. carrier code and flight number, the flight cannot be charged to a federally-sponsored project.

Examples of Fly America Act on Codeshare Flights
red check mark - indicating appropriateAppropriate red 'x' sign - indicating rejectedRejected

screenshot of a travel itinerary of United Airline flight 9725 and 9771 operated by Swiss International; the text 'operated by' is underlined by red bold line; an example shows the flight meets the requirements for Fly America Act

screenshot of a travel itinerary of Delta Airline flight 8599 operated by Air France; the text 'operated by' is underlined by red bold line; an example shows the flight meets the requirements for Fly America Act

screenshot of a travel itinerary of Lufthansa Airline flight 8665 operated by United; this example shows the flight does not meet the requirements for Fly America Act and cannot be charged to a federally-sponsored project

screenshot of a travel itinerary of Iberia Airline flight 4843 and 4158 operated by American Airlines; this example shows the flight does not meet the requirements for Fly America Act and cannot be charged to a federally-sponsored project

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Open Skies Agreements – Exceptions to Fly America Act for Specific International Destinations

One exception to the Fly America Act is the Open Skies Agreement. This was published by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) providing an explanation of the multilateral agreement in place so that qualifying travelers, whose travel is supported by federal funds may travel on certain foreign airlines as well as U.S. flag air carriers. See Open Skies Exceptions by Country section.

What does the Open Skies Agreements mean to Stanford Travelers?

When air travel is paid for with federal funds, travel must either be on a U.S. carrier or, for specific destinations, may be on a European Union (EU) (plus Norway and Iceland), Australian, Japanese, or Swiss airline. A list of current member countries of the European Union is available at the Europa web site.

Important Note:  The Open Skies Agreements do not apply if travel is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) or by a department of the U.S. Military. Travel funded by the DOD or by a U.S. military department must be on a U.S. flag air carrier. Stanford University Awards for DOD begin with TAAAA-TZZZZ.

Certification of Exception to Fly America Act

The Certification of Exception to Fly America Act may be used to identify an appropriate exception to use a foreign air carrier. If at least one exception is found on the form, then travel may be completed using a foreign air carrier. The form must be completed and attached to your Expense Request at time of reimbursement as support for using a foreign air carrier. If any portion of the flight using sponsored funds is not flown on a U.S. Air Carrier, the Certificate must be completed and attached.

Stanford Travel's travel agents or other travel web sites cannot provide certification of compliance with the Fly America Act / Open Skies Agreements.

Find appropriate allowable exceptions on the Certification of Exception to Fly America Act.

Please refer to the Fly America and Open Skies Agreements flow chart on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) web site for additional help.

For questions related to compliance with the Fly America Act / Open Skies Agreements, contact the Financial Support Center.

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Open Skies Exceptions by Country

Click on a destination area in the boxes below for Open Skies Agreement specifics: (Expand / Collapse All)

Claim Unidentified Receipts Workflow

In Summary: When traveling to the EU countries, Norway or Iceland, the traveler must land in a U.S., EU, Norway or Iceland destination, then any other city is allowed. However, an Australian carrier can only be used if the trip is directly to Australia. The same applies to Japanese and Swiss carriers. In addition, Switzerland, Australia and Japan require a second condition that there must be no city pair contract flight between the two points.

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