Effective: January 05, 2015

Revised: December 08, 2014

This policy applies to faculty, staff, students, and non-employees traveling for University sponsored purposes, regardless of the funding source.


This policy has been issued under the authority of the Board of Regents as it relates to the governance of university travel policies created under Wis. Stat. s. 36.11(56).

For clarification on applicability of University travel policies, University Sponsored Travel is defined as:

  • paid for in full or in part by the University;
  • paid directly or indirectly by the University;
  • organized by the University with participants or sponsors paying;
  • organized by others outside the University and paid for by the University;
  • sponsored by the University in the form of name, organization, communication, management, staffing, transportation, or space provision.

Business Objectives for this Policy

  • Define “lowest logical airfare” and standards for the purchase and payment of airfare
  • Identify Concur as the contracted self-booking application and Fox World Travel as the as the University’s sole sources for booking any University paid airfare.

Reduce or contain University travel costs and increase service standards by:

  • Reducing ancillary airline fees (checked baggage, priority boarding, coach seat assignments, etc.)
  • Obtaining efficiency in process when searching and procuring the lowest logical airfare
  • Consolidating volume with Fox World Travel and with preferred airlines to negotiate services to benefit University travelers, and savings through increased discounts.
  • Providing “Duty of Care” assistance to University travelers in the event of an emergency.
  • Tracking and salvaging unused airline ticket values to provide the maximum recovery of expense paid by the University
  • Increasing administrative efficiency and reducing expenses by standardizing administrative processes associated with air travel purchases and payment methods
  • Clarifying airfare and related expenses that can be paid with University funds
  • Identifying consequences to travelers who purchase airfare through any source other than Concur and Fox World Travel

Policy Statement

Purchasing Airfare

All travelers are required to make air reservations using business travel dates, and routes, schedules and air carriers that provide the lowest rates. When additional travel days are added because the traveler elects to combine personal days with business travel, the traveler is responsible for any additional costs resulting from adding non-business travel days.

All airline tickets must be purchased at the “lowest logical airfare” available at the time of booking. The University’s definition of “lowest logical airfare” is the least expensive fares, within the University’s price tolerance, for a non-refundable coach/economy ticket.

All airline reservations for University sponsored travel, must be made with Fox World Travel, either with agents or within the Concur self-booking tool.

(UW Madison Athletics operates a contracted on-site agency under on-going delegation and thus, is exempt from use of Concur or Fox World Travel.)

Application of Policy

The Concur self-booking tool search results are based on lowest cost, in accordance with the traveler’s selected schedule window. Automation of the University’s “lowest logical airfare” policy requirement within Concur affords a $150 tolerance threshold above the fare that is least costly. The University’s established tolerance allows the traveler discretion in determining schedule and optimal routing for efficiency. In the event of a policy exception users will be prompted to provide a reason code for any flight selection that is designated to be outside of policy prior to completing the purchase.

When working with a Fox World Travel agent, the agent will offer the traveler the lowest logical fares at the time of booking and in the event the traveler selects a more costly flight, will record the fare difference for reporting purposes. Exception reports are provided to the institution’s travel office on a monthly basis for review.

Payment of Airfare

The approved payment methods for making airfare purchases are University purchasing cards authorized for travel, and personal liability Corporate Cards. Only policy compliant airfare and related fees are allowed to be pre-paid by the University.

Policy Non-Compliance

Effective July 1, 2015 any airfare that is purchased outside of Concur or Fox World Travel, will not be paid or reimbursed by the University.

Air-Related Payable or Reimbursable Expenses

The following in-policy expenditures will be paid or reimbursed with University funds:

  • Fox World Travel agency fees and Concur self-booking fees(Central pay)
  • All federal excise taxes
  • Additional fees associated with booking a coach/economy aisle, window or exit row seat, at check in or at the gate. Not to be confused with fare class upgrades to economy plus/economy comfort which are non-reimbursable
  • Charges for overhead bin storage of carry-on bag
  • One piece of checked baggage – additional costs for extra or overweight baggage require justification of the added expense

Penalties or additional costs assessed for cancellations or changes outside the employee’s control with adequate justification. Some examples of allowable circumstances are:

  • cancelled conference/meeting or date changes
  • airline cancelled flight
  • serious unexpected illness or death of an immediate family member
  • traveler’s unexpected illness which did not allow the business trip to be taken or continued as planned

Non Payable or Reimbursable Expenses

The following expenditures will not be paid or reimbursed with University funds:

  • Effective July 1, 2015 any airfare that is not purchased in the University’s program – either within Concur or with Fox World Travel
  • Travel packages that combine airfare, lodging and/or car rental in any combination, not purchased through Fox World Travel
  • Additional costs for economy plus, economy comfort, business, or first-class seat assignments
  • Additional costs for priority boarding
  • Additional costs for personal travel/side trips in conjunction with business travel
  • Additional costs for travel companions
  • Expenses for memberships in travel/airline clubs and/or daily club use
  • Expenses for flight insurance
  • Airline penalties for cancellations and changes for the convenience of the traveler
  • TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry membership programs

Receipt Requirements

Receipts are required for all airfare purchases, including airline penalties for changes and cancellations. Airfare receipts must contain the following information:

  • Traveler name
  • Dates and times of flight
  • Flight itinerary
  • Class of travel (must be coach/economy)
  • Total cost, including any additional service or related fees, federal excise tax
  • Confirmation of payment

Unused Tickets

For those tickets purchased that will not be utilized, travelers or travel arrangers are responsible for cancelling the ticket in Concur or contacting Fox World Travel to cancel the reservation. Any non-refundable ticket values that result from a canceled trip can be applied to a future business trip when taken by the same traveler on the same airline. Fox World Travel will work with the airline to either reduce or waive the standard airline change/cancel penalty for non-refundable tickets. In cases where this is not possible, the penalty will decrease the remaining ticket value. If the original airfare was paid by the University, the value of an unused ticket must be applied towards a future business trip to mitigate any financial loss to the University funding source. The unused ticket value cannot be applied towards a personal trip. In most cases, the traveler has a year in which to apply the unused ticket value to a future business trip.

Note: Tickets purchased within Concur, with Fox World Travel, or with UW System Administration’s office travel agent can be cancelled and voided without airline refund or penalty up until 5:00 p.m. the next business day following purchase confirmation.

Airline Benefits

Benefits from any airline promotion, such as free tickets for frequent fliers, merchandise, etc., that accrue as a result of University paid travel belong to the University and travelers must use these for future University-related business travel. Benefits as a result of bumping can be retained by the employee, provided the alternative travel resulting from the bumping does not involve any lost work time or incur additional University travel costs. Employees will not be compensated for business use of frequent flyer vouchers, vouchers for bumping, discount coupons, or other instruments of value. Any discounts or incentives earned as a result of personally paid or leisure travel, must be used for future personal travel.

Fly America Act/Open Skies Agreement

The Fly America Act/Open Skies Agreement requires that Americans who fly internationally on federal funds (grants) use a U.S. flag carrier, with few exceptions.

Exceptions to Fly America Act:

  • When there is no nonstop or direct service offered by a U.S. carrier
  • When travel solely outside the U.S. increases the number of aircraft changes en route to more than two
  • When the passenger’s travel time is extended by at least 6 hours
  • When the connecting time is 4 hours or more at an overseas interchange point

Travelers using federal grant funds are responsible for understanding the requirements of the Fly America Act/Open Skies Agreement prior to making international air reservations.

Procedural Standards

Procedural standards for the purchase and payment of individual and group airfare are integral to the application of this policy. Review procedures prior to making any airfare purchase.