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  Home > Fly America Act

Fly America Act Regulations

What do the Fly American Act regulations require?

The Fly America Act regulations, 41 C.F.R. §§301-10.131, et seq., implement a requirement that federal funds may generally not be spent on flights operated by foreign flag carriers. In other words, unless an exception applies, sponsored funds that originate with a federal agency may be used to pay for travel only on U.S. flag air carriers.

What are the authorized U.S. flag air carriers?

The major U.S. flag air carriers are-

  • Airtran Airways (FL)
  • Alaska Airlines(AS)
  • American Airlines(HP)
  • American Trans Air(AA)
  • Continental Airlines(CO)
  • Delta Airlines(DL)
  • Frontier Airlines(F9)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HA)
  • JetBlue Airways (B6)
  • Midwest Airlines (YX)
  • Northwest Airlines (NW)
  • Southwest Airlines (WN)
  • Spirit Airlines (NK)
  • United Airlines (UA)
  • US Airways (US)
  • Virgin America (VX)

    There are also a number of smaller airlines that are U.S. flag air carriers.

    Are there exceptions to the requirement that only U.S. flag carriers be used?

    Yes. Here are a few of the most commonly-encountered exceptions.

    Code-shared flights. Federal funds may be used to pay for a flight operated by a foreign flag carrier that is subject to a code-sharing arrangement with a U.S. flag air carrier. The traveler's ticket, e-ticket, or related documentation must identify the U.S. flag carrier's designator code and flight number.

    Matters of necessity. A foreign flag carrier may be used if no U.S. flag carrier can provide the air transportation needed, no U.S. flag carrier offers seats in the traveler's authorized class of service, medical circumstances require the use of a foreign flag carrier, or no U.S. flag carrier can provide travel reasonably free of safety risks (e.g., terrorism, hijacking). Certain cases of necessity require prior approval from the appropriate federal agency sponsor.

    Mere convenience and lower cost do not, by themselves, make the use of a foreign flag carrier a matter of necessity.

    Open Skies Agreement. Federal funds may be used for flights on foreign flag carriers to and from qualifying destinations in countries that have Open Skies Agreements with the U.S. There are currently four such agreements with the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan. The exception for Open Skies Agreement does not work whenever funds are coming from a Department of Defense sponsor, or for certain routes covered by city-pair contracts.

    How do I decide whether an exception applies?

    For assistance with the Fly America Act regulations and exceptions, contact Patrick Briscoe, the University's Export Controls and International Projects Officer (612-625-3860, He will help in making an exception determination, and in preparing a written certification when required by the regulations.

    What happens if my travel on a foreign flag carrier does not qualify for an exception?

    Federal sponsors are not allowed to cover the cost of air travel with a foreign flag carrier that does not meet an exception in the Fly America Act regulations. The expense will have to be picked up by the travler's department or another authorized source.

    The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.