Policy: 201.A - Air Travel

Statement of Policy
Travel by air shall be limited to the lowest, logical, non-refundable, coach/economy class fare available.  The additional cost for premium class or seat assignment fees for premium class (first class, business class, economy plus or economy comfort) travel is not reimbursable. For exemptions, employees who seek a disability-related travel accommodation should see https://oed.wisc.edu/disability-accommodation/ for information on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Note: Sponsored projects (e.g., fund 144 or 133) are subject to the terms and conditions of the specific award, as well as applicable program guidelines, which may restrict use of funds for certain types of expenses.  Please contact the RSP accountant for your award with any questions.

Booking Methods
All airline reservations initiated by University employees – for either employee or non-employee travel – must be made with Fox World Travel or via the Concur self-booking tool. Visit UW TravelWIse for access to the contract vendor/booking tool and other University travel-related information.

Note: These statements exclude UW Madison Athletics, which operates an on-site agency under ongoing delegation.

Payment Methods
Travelers should utilize the University Purchasing Card or the personal-liability My Corporate Card to pay for UW-Madison business-related airfare and allowable associated fees. 

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.

Associated Fees

  • Baggage: The first piece of baggage within the airlines’ weight and size limits is allowable. Costs for additional baggage beyond the first piece and overweight or oversized baggage may be reimbursed by providing a business justification.
  • Aisle, Window or Exit Row Fees: Additional fees associated with booking a coach/economy aisle, window or exit row seat at check-in or at the gate are allowable. This is not to be confused with fare class upgrades to economy plus/economy comfort, which are not allowed.
  • Change/Cancellation Fees: Fees charged for changing a non-refundable ticket are allowable if justified by circumstances outside of the traveler's control (i.e. meeting dates changed).
  • Booking Fees: Travel agency and online booking fees are allowable and are centrally billed.

Note: Any additional fees for traveler conveniences or amenities are not allowable expenses.

Departure and Return
The traveler should determine the necessary date for arrival to allow sufficient time to prepare for the business to be conducted.  Arrival on the day prior to a morning start time for an event is acceptable.  When business is concluded early enough in the day to allow the traveler to return to their home at a reasonable hour (e.g. by 10:00 pm), it is expected the traveler will return that day.

Receipt/Documentation Requirements
Note: Required documentation should be retained in the payment mechanism files.  When entering University Prepaid Expenses in e-Reimbursement, an additional copy of the expense receipt is not required in the receipt packet.

Airfare:  Complete supporting documentation for airfare includes the following:

1. An approved UW – Madison business purpose
2. The agency receipt that includes all of the following:

  • Traveler’s name
  • Ticket number
  • Destination
  • Departure/Return Dates
  • Amount of fare
  • Trip Itinerary
  • Class of travel
  • Proof of payment
3. An explanation and a cost comparison obtained at the time of booking are required under the following circumstances:
  • Indirect routing/extra stops/extra days for personal reasons:  Indirect routing/extra stops/extra days for personal reasons are allowable provided there are no additional costs incurred.
  • Departing from and/or returning to an alternate city: Departing from and/or returning to a city other than Madison, Milwaukee or Chicago is allowable provided the fare is more cost effective for the UW, including parking, mileage, meals, additional overnight stays, etc.
  • Departing earlier/returning later than business requires: It is acceptable to depart a day early and/or return a day late if it results in a substantial savings in airfare to offset the extra costs of the room, meals, etc.

Associated Fees: A receipt may be required for associated fees depending on the amount and payment method used.  For complete receipt requirements, see Policy 201.L Receipt Requirements.

Airline Promotions
Benefits from any airline promotion, such as free tickets for frequent fliers, merchandise, etc., that accrue as a result of UW paid travel belong to the UW and must be used for UW related business only; however, benefits that accrue as a result of voluntary bumping may be retained by the employee.  
Note: An employee may not be reimbursed or compensated for business use of personally earned frequent flyer vouchers, vouchers for bumping, discount coupons or other instruments of value.

International Travel
For additional requirements pertaining to international travel, see Policy 201.J International Travel.

Travelers and departmental staff should contact their respective Divisional Business Office for policy or procedural questions.

Divisional Business Offices may contact uwtravel@bussvc.wisc.edu with questions.