Frequently Asked Questions
2013 Travel Policy Changes |
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Mixing Business Travel and Personal Travel | State of Texas Travel Rules | International Travel
Reimbursements | Student Travel | Benefits & Overtime | Money Matters
May 20, 2013 Travel Policy Changes
How do I request exception to purchase airfare from a non-contract source?
See Travel Airfare Exception Request page.
I found a lower airfare at a non-contract source which the contracted travel agencies could match, but I wanted to purchase it through Concur to take advantage of the lower service fee. When I search Concur, I am unable to locate the lower, matched fare. Am I eligible for an exception to purchase the lower fare from the non-contract source?
No. Independently priced lower cost airfares are not eligible for exception if you have contacted the contract travel agencies and received a matched fare for the same itinerary, but the same fare cannot be located in Concur.
Who made this decision and were faculty involved in the decision?
This decision was made system-wide after careful review of the program benefits by representatives from all UT institutions, including business officers, travel directors, and other administrative officials.
I have faculty that have already booked flights for travel after 5/20/13. Can I still reimburse them if they did not go through a travel agency?
Any tickets issued before 5/20 will be reimbursed as normal.
Incoming guest lecturers sometimes want to book their own flights and be reimbursed. Will they also have to go through one of our travel agencies?
Official visitors are not required by this policy to use the agencies.
For faculty/staff/students with a limited travel allowance, if their ticket exceeds the allowance, the traveler will have to book through an agency & pay the booking fee. They will have to use a personal credit card through a travel agency. Will their out of pocket cost increase?
All travelers can request an exception if they find a non-contract airfare that is lower cost with an alternate provider compared to that offered by the university travel agencies or found on Concur for the same itinerary. They will need to use the agencies or Concur if an exception does not apply.
How do we handle flight changes after the travel has begun? Does the traveler have to contact the booking agency or can they work directly with the airline? If they work directly with the airline, can I reimburse them?
Our agencies have after hours emergency service. But, if it is imperative that the traveler make the change with the airline directly they will be reimbursed by making note in the reimbursement document that the change was made while in travel status.
Last minute travel plans will probably have to be paid with a personal credit card through a travel agency because the travel authorization may not have been created or at the very least not final-approved.
UT Austin travel policy requires a travel authorization be in place before travel begins. The University contracted travel agencies can only ticket a reservation if there is an approved travel authorization.
How we will save as much money as indicated in the email? Will we get lower airfares or is this based on the lower booking fee? How was the savings determined?
UT Austin will see savings from lower travel agency service fees. Additionally, through the collective purchasing power UT System-wide, further discounts on airfares, rental car rates, and hotel rates will be accomplished.
My travel costs are almost always paid by my own grants and contracts. Am I required to follow the new travel policy if a grant account is being used?
This University policy applies to all Travelers (faculty, staff, students) regardless of the source of funds. If travel expenses are charged to a sponsored program (e.g., grants or contracts), the terms of the grant or contract will take precedence if they are more restrictive than the University policy.
Reservation fees are an allowable expense to a sponsored award (grants or contracts) per the Federal Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, Section J53-travel cost, unless the grant or contract specifically prohibits the expense.
I usually book my own travel using airline websites so I do not have service fees. My rates are invariably less expensive than any of the UT vendors since there is no service fee. Will this new policy control so that I have to purchase a more expensive ticket?
The agencies will price your desired itinerary and also give options from other airlines that meet the same timeframe but might have lower airfares available.
No, the policy will not require you to purchase more expensive airfare. If you find an airfare that is $100 or more in savings – you can request an exception. The cost comparison with the agency must be an “apples to apples” comparison. An exception email from Travel Management Services will need to be included in your reimbursement request.
Does the required use of the travel agencies extend to rental car and hotel?
No, rental car reservations will need to be made by using one of the five rental car contracts but reservations can be made through our travel agencies, the Concur online tool, or directly with the rental car vendor. Hotel reservations can be made through our contracted travel agencies, the Concur online tool, or directly with the hotel.
Can you please clarify whether this will limit our choice of airlines to fly on?
No, absolutely not. The agency will price your requested itinerary but can also offer lower airfares on airlines that are close to the desired timeframes. The traveler has the final say on the price and itinerary.
What will happen to those who still end up booking their travel outside of the system, especially during the transition? Will they still be able to receive reimbursement?
The Office of Accounting will advise the Travel Management office of travelers that submit tickets for reimbursement without the exception approval. We will then work with the traveler to give reimbursement approval during the transition.
Several of the faculty I work with are concerned that being required to use UT travel agencies will extremely limit the selection of flights available to them.
The travel agencies will not be requiring our travelers to accept flight itineraries that do not work for their needs. They will price the desired itineraries and then give lower cost options that are around the same timeframe in case the traveler wishes to consider. The traveler or travel arranger has the last say in the itinerary.
Concur is an online reservation tool that the traveler can access to find the flights/schedules that meet their needs and then see what fares are available. It will allow search by all airlines and search by specific airline.
Will this policy prevent me from taking advantage of "web-only" sales at the airlines (Southwest has such sales all the time)?
Web-only fares on Southwest airlines and other airline websites will be available through Concur, the university online booking tool. Concur will have a reduced service fee of $10.00.
Will the travel agencies be able to transmit my frequent flyer information to the airlines?
Yes, travelers can provide their frequent flyer information to the travel agencies and it will be transmitted to the airlines.
Often, when I attend a scientific meeting, the organizers partially reimburse my travel. How will situations like this be handled?
If your ticket has been centrally billed through the travel agencies, then the event organizer can send your department a check for deposit into your travel account. Also, you can still purchase your airfare using a personal credit card through the agencies. The Office of Accounting will be reimbursing invoices that come from the 2 contracted travel agencies.
Can companion travel be arranged through the contracted travel agency?
Yes, the travel agencies can assist you with companion travel. UT Austin will negotiate separate service fees for companion and group travel.
What if we have existing reservations or airline credits with Carlson Wagonlit and Alamo Travel?
Carlson Wagonlit and Alamo travel will be transferring all pending/existing reservations and credits to Anthony Travel.
How do travelers handle changes to their itineraries while traveling?
- Make necessary changes with the assistance of the UT contracted travel agencies' 24/7 after hours emergency service. They will provide assistance with centrally billing requested changes or new itineraries.
- Make changes or new reservations directly with the airline, pay additional collection charges with personal credit card and seek reimbursement.
Can Frequent Flyer Miles still be used?
Yes, the university encourages the traveler to use frequent flyer miles that were earned through university paid travel. The traveler or travel arranger can check with the UT contracted travel agency to see if the airline will allow them to assist. If not, the traveler can work directly with the airline and request exception as lower cost.
Do Travelers need to complete both agency profiles?
How will emergency situations be handled?
Emergency airfare is an allowable exception. Emergency airfare can be purchased through a non-contract source and exception request handled the next business day.
Will requests for First/Business class airfare remain the same? Will we be able to book through Concur?
Yes, the request to purchase First or Business class airfare remains the same. No, First and Business class airfare will not be available through Concur, the online booking tool.
Will fully refundable airfares be available through the UT travel agencies and Concur?
Yes, both the travel agencies and the Concur online booking tool will allow you to shop by refundable airfare. They will also offer any lower fare options for your consideration. The traveler and their department have the final decision on what itinerary and price best meets the traveler's business purpose.