Fly America Act and Open Skies


Consistent with the “Fly America Act,” Duke University generally requires travelers who will be reimbursed from federal grants or contracts to use U.S. flag air carrier service.  Long-term exceptions to the Fly America Act are:  1) When the use of U.S. carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more; 2) When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency; and 3) When U.S. carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination. However, a U.S. carrier must be used on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:

  • Increase the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more
  • Extend travel time by at least six hours or more
  • Require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point

Note that U.S. carriers must be used even if foreign carriers offer tickets at a lower price, offer preferred routing, are more convenient or are part of a frequent-flyer arrangement such as the Star Alliance. 


An additional exception to Fly America occurs when an Open Skies agreement is in place between the United States (U.S.) government and the government of foreign country. There are currently three Open Skies agreements - with the European Union, Australia and Switzerland.  It should be noted that there are limitations to the use of non-US carriers under an Open Skies agreement notably that the current Open Skies agreements do not apply to Department of Defense-supported activities and there is a prohibition against non-US carriers if a City Pairs agreement exists.

Please note that code-sharing agreements with foreign air carriers, whereby American carriers purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier, comply with the Fly America Act Regulations. The ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, must identify the U.S. carrier's designator code and flight number.  However, some funding sources may not recognize code-sharing as being compliant with Fly America Act regulations. When the specific funding source policy is more restrictive than the Fly America Act, the more restrictive policy applies.