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Costs of Air Travel Limited to the “Lowest Priced Airfare Available to the Contractor”


By a final rule effective January 11, 2010, the travel cost principle (FAR 31.205-46) has been amended to limit the cost of air travel to the “lowest priced airfare available to the contractor,” except in limited circumstances. Instead of simply limiting a contractor's recovery of air travel costs for employees who are authorized to fly in premium classes to the lowest airfare available to that particular contractor based on agreements that particular contractor has negotiated with an airline – which is the stated purpose of the amendment – the new rule uses confusing language that is likely to be misinterpreted as imposing a broader limit on allowability that will be virtually impossible to administer in light of the variability in the price of air travel, including even different fares on the same flight, both for employees who are actually charged non-premium fares that are greater than the lowest theoretically "available" fare to a particular contractor and on the many contractors that do not even have negotiated agreements with airlines.

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