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Self-Purchased Airline Tickets

Self-Purchased Airline Tickets

Conditions where you should not purchase your own ticket:

  • Foreign travel
  • Personal time mixed with business
  • Personal destination mixed with business


  • Travel advances will not be made to facilitate ticket purchases.
  • Reimbursement must wait until the conclusion of the trip.
  • If you do not take the trip you will not be reimbursed for the ticket.
  • The lowest available fare is required by the contract.
  • Insurance is not reimbursable.
  • Cost comparison required if the ticket cost is more than $500.00 U.S.
  • Cost comparison required if flight does not originate and return to Des Moines
  • Purchase tickets only for your own travel--not for other Ames Lab travelers
  • Receipt:  Detailed itinerary receipt required for reimbursement.  It should show all stops, dates and times, class of service (economy, coach, etc.), price paid.  If insurance is included, the cost should be documented so the appropriate reimbursement can be determined.

Documenting a purchase:

  • If Ticket costs  $500 or less: Provide the internet receipt (see rules above) that includes the itinerary and the price of the ticket.   
  • If Ticket costs greater than $500: Provide the ticket receipt (see rules above) and documentation of available options to show you purchased the lowest available fare.

Examples of acceptable comparisons include:

  1. A quote from T&T showing the price for a similar ticket,
  2. A list of the available flights from the internet site showing your fare is lowest, see sample on next page.
  3. Justification is required if the internet site has tickets that cost less than the ticket purchased, and the traveler must seek pre-approval of the excess cost in order to receive full reimbursement.

Appropriate justifications include:

  1. times that interfere with the traveler's work responsibilities,
  2. layover intervals, flight duration compared to direct flights, etc.

Preference for certain airlines is not an allowable justification.

What if I find a lower fare from an airport other than Des Moines?

For tickets departing from Omaha, Kansas City, Minneapolis, or other nearby cities the entire cost of travel to these cities will be included in the cost comparison.  Provide documentation (see acceptable comparisons above) for the cost of the ticket out of Des Moines along with the costs involved in travel to the other cities. The travel worksheet should show that travel will be from [name city]. If this option does not extend the number of calendar days of travel, pre-approval is not required but the traveler's reimbursement will be limited to the lowest cost option. Contact the Travel Office for help in understanding the comparison process.  An example follows on next page.

REMEMBER:  There is an added risk to the traveler when they purchase their own ticket. For instance, if the traveler doesn't use the ticket they will not be reimbursed. If the traveler doesn't provide adequate documentation they will be reimbursed based on the basis of the documentation provided.  If there are any questions please contact the Travel Office.

Sample Cost comparison for flying from city other than
Des Moines
Flying costs from Des Moines Flying costs from Omaha
Airfare $500.00   Airfare $380.00
Mileage to airport:        
84 miles round trip     340 miles round trip  
  @ $.51/mile $42.84     @ $.19/mile $64.60
Airport parking:        
  5 days @ $6 $30.00     5 days @ $7 $35.00
Total: $572.84     $479.60
This shows Omaha is the cheaper option and may be reimbursable.