Fly America Act

The Fly America Act was enacted in 1974 to mandate the use of U.S. flag air carriers for federally funded international travel. Since the Fly America Act’s enactment, innumerable changes have taken place in the airline industry. Because of this evolution, the Fly America Act and the federal travel regulations promulgated under the act have been revised to allow travelers more flexibility while remaining in compliance with the law. The Federal Travel Regulations were written in a question and answer format making them easier to understand.  Review regulations.

The Federal Travel Regulations requires international flights be on U.S. flag air carriers whenever possible, which is accomplished when code sharing is present. Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines “code” the same flight as if it was their own. In other words, the international flight may be on a foreign air carrier’s plane, but is considered the same as one operated by an U.S. flag air carrier. Compliance with the Fly America Act is satisfied when the U.S. flag air carrier’s designator code is present in the area next to the flight numbers on the airline ticket, boarding pass, or on the documentation for an electronic ticket (passenger receipt).

For example, United Airlines has a code share agreement with Air China to Beijing, China. If the boarding pass (flight coupon) or e-ticket identifies a flight as UA ##, the requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations would be met, even if the flight was on an Air China airplane. If however, the boarding pass (flight coupon) or e-ticket identifies the flight as a CA ##, then the requirements of the Federal Travel Regulations would not be met.

What does this mean to you?

If you are scheduling international travel that is federally funded, you must ensure that all flights, where possible, are scheduled on U.S. flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag air carrier. To assist you in accomplishing this goal, an Airlines link has been added that lists all U.S. flag air carriers and their codes. In addition, it is highly recommended that you book your international travel, when federally funded, through one of the Northeastern’s Preferred Travel Agencies. Egencia and Travel Collaborative have agents that are well versed in the Fly America Act. Please be sure to advise them that your trip is federally funded.

There are times when an exception may be appropriate. To document the exceptions, we rely on the Fly America Act Waiver Checklist. For example, there are instances when: Bilateral or multilateral air transportation agreement; a U.S. flag air carrier does not provide service on a particular leg of your trip; the use of a U.S. carrier will unreasonably delay your travel time; you are involuntarily rerouted; or for medical or safety reasons, etc. Use of the waiver checklist, though not required, will help you document the reason for use of a non-U.S. air carrier when they are required.