Air Travel: When to get a Comparison Air Fare Quote

Air Travel: When to get a Comparison Air Fare Quote

 

A comparison airfare quote is required when:


Airfare Quote Instructions
An airfare quote should be based on the least expensive and reasonable means of transportation available. The quote should be obtained the same day that travel is arranged and be from the same source which the ticket is being purchased. Quote must be attached to the travel reimbursement or the airfare authorization form. If more than one quote is obtained because the least expensive flight does not meet the business need, indicate which flight is to be used as the comparison cost and provide justification for not selecting the lowest fare.

If the combined business and personal itinerary includes personal days, the departure and return dates used for the quote should be based on business needs only.

Quote Options:

  • Use one of the three UO contract travel agencies.

The quote should be written. Fax or email is ok. The quote should include the agency, agent, date of the quote, dates of travel, airline, destination and return cities, and total cost including all taxes and fees.

Or

  • Use a travel website that provides airline comparisons such as Orbitz, Travelocity, or Expedia.

Print out one or two pages showing the comparison fares matrix.  The matrix at the top of the page displays multiple fare and airline options. Sample Matrix

Insufficient documentation:

When used on their own, printouts from a specific airlines's website are insufficient because they may not provide the least expensive and reasonable means of transportation available.


Combining Business and Personal Travel:

Travelers sometimes combine business and personal travel. This is done in different ways, either by adding personal days at the business location or by traveling to other destinations.

When combining personal travel with UO business travel, payment will be based on the least expensive and reasonable means of transportation to the business location. Meal and lodging per diem is limited to the business portion of the trip. Generally, the dates of the conference or meeting and one travel day before and after are allowable for reimbursement. Any additional days paid by the UO must be documented with a business purpose. Travel expenses cannot be paid for personal days.

Example: A traveler is attending a conference in Washington DC. Dates of the conference are Monday - Wednesday.

  • Generally travel time would be limited to Sunday - Thursday.

  • If the traveler left Eugene on Saturday and is requesting reimbursement for Saturday - Thursday, there should be additional documentation describing the business purpose for leaving a day early.

  • If the traveler left Eugene on Saturday for personal reasons, the traveler should not be reimbursed for meal and lodging expenses on the personal day. In addition, a quote should be obtained to determine if there is an additional airfare cost due to including personal days.

When a flight itinerary is selected that includes personal travel, obtain a separate airfare quote for the business portion of the itinerary, at the time of booking. This comparison between the business only itinerary and the actual cost of the combined business and personal travel itinerary should be documented in writing and included with the travel reimbursement and/or the airfare purchase records.

If the cost of the combined business and personal itinerary exceeds the business only itinerary, the personal portion will have to be paid by the traveler at the time of ticket purchase. If the contract agency is willing to split the cost of the ticket, the agency may charge an additional service fee.

If the cost of the combined business and personal itinerary is the same or less than the business only itinerary, the UO may pay for the full cost of the airfare. The written documentation must be included with the travel reimbursement and/or the airfare purchase records.


Additional day for cost savings purposes:

Reimbursement of meal and lodging expense for one or more additional days is allowable when the purpose of the additional days is to reduce overall travel costs. For example, if a conference starts on Monday there may be a cost savings for traveling on Saturday rather than Sunday. If the savings is greater than the additional meal and lodging expenses incurred, a traveler may choose to travel on Saturday and be reimbursed for the additional day of meal and lodging expense. The cost savings must be documented in writing by obtaining an airfare quote for the itinerary without the additional day and comparing it to the actual airfare selected plus any additional meal and lodging expenses.


Driving a vehicle out-of-state:

When traveling out of state for UO business and choosing to drive rather than fly, the cost of flying may be more economical than claiming mileage. A comparison airfare quote should be obtained per comparison airfare quote policy (hyperlink: https://ba.uoregon.edu/content/air-travel-when-to-get-a-comparison-air-fare-quote ) and printed at the time the travel is arranged and included with the travel reimbursement. The traveler can be reimbursed for either the cost of flying (Airfare in Lieu of Mileage) or mileage, whichever is less. When comparing prices, speculative expenses like airline baggage fees or airport shuttles cannot be included in the comparison quote or claimed for reimbursement.

When preparing the travel reimbursement, list Airfare in Lieu of Mileage in the Mileage section of the electronic form with an explanation. An employee may be reimbursed for the following costs associated with air travel between his or her official station and destination:

  • The cost of round-trip commercial air fare that would have been incurred or mileage, whichever is less. Airfare quote must be provided with the reimbursement.
  • Private vehicle mileage to and from the air terminal that would normally be used for departure.
  • Lodging and meal expenses that the employee would normally incur with air travel.

When claiming Airfare in Lieu of Miles, additional expenses associated with the private vehicle cannot be claimed, i.e. parking and tolls.

If you have a bona fide business purpose for driving a private vehicle out of state, document the reason with the travel reimbursement, e.g. transport a large amount of equipment or driving to remote or multiple locations.


Use of a non-direct route:

Travelers sometimes take non-direct routes because of personal reasons or to save money. Using the Portland airport rather than the Eugene airport is considered a non-direct route when leaving from or going to Eugene.

If the non-direct route is selected for personal reasons, follow the instructions under Combining Business and Personal Travel.

If the non-direct route is selected for cost savings purposes, the cost savings must be documented in writing by obtaining an airfare quote for the direct route. All cost factors must be included in determining if there is an actual cost savings. For example if flights into Phoenix are higher than normal, a traveler might fly into Tucson and drive to Phoenix by rental car. The cost of the flight into Tucson plus the cost of the rental car and gasoline should be compared to the cost of flying directly into Phoenix. This comparison should be documented in writing and included with the travel reimbursement and/or the airfare purchase records.

Comparison quotes after travel:

Your traveler has brought you paperwork for a reimbursement and their trip includes personal time or an indirect route. They did not get a comparison airfare quote for the business only dates at the time the ticket was purchased.

What should you do?

When obtaining comparison fares after travel has taken place, you need to get two quotes: a Business Only airfare and the airfare duplicating the route the traveler actually flew, including the personal travel. This will allow you to compare the two itineraries to calculate the allowable reimbursement.

You can use your favorite online air booking site like Orbitz or Travelocity but make sure it shows a low to high pricing grid/matrix of all the airlines. Be sure to select the days of the week that travel took place, and use dates that are the at least two or three weeks out to get the least expensive fares. Avoid holidays as these can skew rates and avoid airline specific sites as these do not necessarily show the best prices in that airfare market.

Print a page showing the pricing grid/matrix for both the business only dates and for the itinerary including the personal time. If the quote with the personal time is less expensive, include these with your reimbursements and you are finished.

Sample Matrix

If the business only quote is less, here is the formula to calculate the reimbursement:

Using the comparison quotes, divide the business only quote by your quote with personal time. This will give you a percentage.

Example: Business only price is $350. Price with personal time is $500.

$350 / $500 = .7 (percentage)

Take the travelers actual ticket price and multiple by the percentage you calculated above. This is the percentage of the ticket that can be reimbursed.

Example: Actual ticket price was $700. $700 x .7 (percentage) = $490 reimbursement allowed