Administrative
    Services
        Letter

99-08
Air Travel

   
Signed By Larry Morris, Chief
Administrative Services Division
Number 99-08
Distribution All Employees
Date Issued September 3, 1999
Subject Air Travel
Expires June 3, 2000
Guide Section Travel
Reference Cancels ASL 96-20

 

STATEWIDE AIR TRAVEL POLICIES AND REQUIREMENTS
STATE CONTRACT AIRLINES AND FARES
PROHIBITION ON PREPAID TICKETS
NONREFUNDABLE AIRLINE TICKETS
ARB'S AIR TRAVEL PROCEDURES

STATEWIDE AIR TRAVEL POLICIES AND REQUIREMENTS

The Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) adopts regulations covering both the state policy and reimbursement allowances for travel expenses. The State Controller's Office (SCO) implements the DPA regulations by auditing departmental claims and issuing payment for employee expenses. The Air Resources Board (ARB) Accounting Office assists staff to comply with statewide requirements and receive proper reimbursement for expenses by processing claims to the SCO. The general statewide requirements to be observed for business travel continue to be:

  1. Use the most economical method of transportation. The cost consideration should include the time employees will be away from the office in addition to the direct travel expenses.
  2. Fly on contract airlines when traveling between any covered city-pair routes (see the following section). Exceptions are allowed under the following circumstances.

    • The contract flight is not available or the flight schedule does not accommodate the traveler's itinerary.
    • Clearly documented savings are achieved by using a non-contract flight. Both employee time and direct travel expenses are to be included in the cost comparison

  3. Park vehicles in less expensive, peripheral lots. Overnight parking is discouraged and should only occur in instances when no other practical and reasonable way is available for the employee to get to and from the airport.
  4. Turn in any bonus points, mileage, special memberships, or discounts offered by airlines for promotional purposes. Employees who receive such promotional items are required to relinquish them to the Accounting Office.

The SCO renders final judgment on any exceptions to the requirements. Clearly document the reason for the exception and attach to your expense claim when submitting to the Accounting Office.

STATE CONTRACT AIRLINES AND FARES

The Department of General Services has entered into contracts with two airlines to provide discount airfares to state agencies during FY 99/00. The airlines are:

  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Attachment 1lists the contract city-pairs and published fares. Employees should request a contract flight when traveling between any covered city-pair. Contract flights are for travelers on official state business only.

PROHIBITION ON PREPAID TICKETS

The use of prepaid tickets is not allowed because airlines frequently assess a fee of $35 or more for the service. Prepaid tickets are defined as tickets purchased at the airline counter by the traveler AND billed to the employee's department. Under circumstances requiring last minute purchase of tickets at the airline counter, employees are advised to use the American Express Corporate card.

NONREFUNDABLE AIRLINE TICKETS

Airlines frequently offer sharply discounted prices for flight schedules they are promoting. In exchange for the discounted price, however, the tickets are oftentimes nonrefundable. As the term implies, payment is required irrespective of whether the flight is actually taken. In recognition of the potential cost savings, the SCO advises that nonrefundable airline tickets may now be purchased under the following circumstances:

  • There is every expectation that the flight will be taken. Cancellation will only occur for an unforeseen reason.
  • The state agency is managing the use of nonrefundable tickets in a responsible fashion and is able to demonstrate that:
  • Cancellations are infrequent and caused by factors beyond the control of the employee.
  • Notwithstanding a few inevitable cancellations, airline costs including nonrefundable tickets are less than airline costs including only conventional tickets.

ARB'S AIR TRAVEL PROCEDURES

Staff are reminded that ARB policy is to make trip arrangements through either of two travel agencies. They are:

  • In Sacramento: Patterson Travel Agency, (916) 929-3661
  • In El Monte: Bertal Travel Center, (626) 443-6134

The ARB has established procedures with both travel agencies to make it convenient for staff to arrange for trips. Both agencies are well versed on the state contract flights. Billing accounts have been set up, obviating the need for employees to separately arrange for payment. The ARB will be billed directly by Patterson and Bertal. Patterson will deliver the tickets directly to the Accounting Office in Sacramento and Bertal will deliver the tickets directly to the Administrative Services Division, Business Management Section in El Monte. The Accounting or Business Services staff will deliver the tickets to the division travel coordinators. The employee should have the ticket in hand typically within 1-2 days of making the reservation.

All unused tickets (refundable and nonrefundable) must be returned to the Accounting Office immediately to ensure proper disposition. Nonrefundable tickets must be accompanied by written documentation explaining the reason for not taking the flight.

Attachment 2 is a chart which summarizes the routine procedure to follow in arranging for air travel. While most travel needs are satisfied by this approach, the occasional last minute change in flight schedule may require other action. To assist in meeting such unexpected circumstances, a contingency procedure is included to alter flight arrangements. The latter process is to be used only when timing precludes following normal routine.

Please contact the Manager, Accounting & Grants Section, at (916) 322-8211 or the Travel Expense Coordinator at (916) 322-9390 if you have any questions.

Attachments:

One Way Official Contracted Airfares

Air Travel Procedure Chart