Fly America Act
Generally, if a University of Kentucky traveler is traveling on funds provided by the federal government, a U.S. flag carrier (an airline owned by an American company) must be used, regardless of cost or convenience. However, there are times when a foreign carrier can be used through code sharing, open skies agreements, or time restrictive exceptions.
Airline Code Sharing:
When scheduling international travel that is to be paid with federal funds, all flights, where possible, are required to be scheduled on U.S. flag carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier. Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines "code" the same flight as if it was their own. In other words, a U.S. airline may sell a seat on the plane of a foreign air carrier; this seat is considered the same as one on a plane operated by a U.S. flag carrier. Compliance with the Fly America Act is satisfied when the U.S. flag air carrier's designator code is present on the ticket or documentation for an electronic ticket (passenger receipt).
For example, Delta has a code share agreement with Air France to Paris, France. If the boarding pass (flight coupon) or e‐ticket identifies a flight as DL ##, the requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations would be met, even if the flight was on an Air France airplane.
Exceptions to the Fly America Act – With Open Skies Agreement:
On October 6, 2010, the United States and European Union (EU) “Open Skies” Air Transport Agreement was published by the U.S. General Services Administration providing full explanation of the multilateral agreement in place so that qualifying travelers, whose travel is supported by federal funds, may travel on European Union airlines as well as U.S. Flag Air Carriers.
European Union nations: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom. Because of their relations with the EU, Norway and Iceland are also included in the agreement. There are also Open Skies Agreements with Australia, Switzerland and Japan.
What do these Open Skies Agreements mean to you?
European Union - When travelling from the U.S. to a destination serviced by an EU airline, travelers flying on federal grants or sub-awards can fly on either a U.S. carrier or an EU carrier as long as they touch down in an EU country.
U.S. to Australia, U.S. to Switzerland, U.S. to Japan - Travelers flying on federal grants or sub-awards can fly on a foreign carrier only if a point of origin/destination is either the U.S. or Australia, Switzerland, or Japan and there is no GSA city-pair contract flight between the two points (origin and destination). Even though UK travelers using federal funds cannot use GSA city-pair contracts, travelers are still required to use the U.S. flag carrier service when a city-pair contract exists. See this website to research city pair contracts.
Exceptions to the Fly America Act – Without Open Skies Agreement:
1. Travel to and from the United States: Passenger service by a U.S. flag air carrier will not be considered available when the travel is between a gateway airport in the United States and a gateway airport abroad, and the gateway airport abroad is: The traveler's origin or destination airport, and the use of U.S. flag air carrier service would extend the time in a travel status, including delay at origin and accelerated arrival at destination, by at least 24 hours more than travel by foreign air carrier.
Gateway Airport in the United States - the last airport in the U.S. from which the traveler’s flight departs, or the first airport in the U.S. at which the traveler’s flight arrives.
Gateway Airport Abroad – airport abroad from which the traveler’s flight last departs en route to the U.S., or at which the traveler’s flight first arrives from the U.S.
2. Travel Between Two Points Outside the United States: For travel between two points outside the United States, U.S. flag air carrier service will not be considered to be reasonably available if: (a) travel by foreign air carrier would eliminate two or more aircraft changes en route; or (b) where one of the two points abroad is the gateway airport en route to or from the United States, if the U.S. flag air carrier would extend the time in travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by a foreign air carrier; or (c) where the travel is not part of a trip to or from the United States, if the use of a U.S. flag air carrier would extend the time in travel status by at least 6 hours more than travel by a foreign air carrier.
3. Short Distance Travel: For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, U.S. flag air carrier service will not be considered available when the travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by foreign air carrier is 3 hours or less and service by U.S. flag air carrier would involve twice the travel time.