B-238640, May 3, 1990

B-238640: May 3, 1990

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Denied boarding compensation payments made by air carriers for failing to furnish seats to travelers who had tickets because of overbooking are due the government. The difference in treatment between these payments and payments made by air carriers to travelers voluntarily giving up their seats on overbooked airplanes (which the travelers would be allowed to keep) is explained in Elizabeth Duplantier. We have consistently held that. Where a federal employee travels on official business and is denied boarding on a scheduled airline flight. It is the government that stands to be damaged by the airline's default in overbooking the flight. Exceptions have not been permitted even where the government incurs no additional subsistence expense or the employee reports for duty at the same time as originally intended.

B-238640, May 3, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Bonuses - Acceptance - Propriety DIGEST: Under GSA's regulations and decisions of the Comptroller General, denied boarding compensation payments made by air carriers for failing to furnish seats to travelers who had tickets because of overbooking are due the government, not the travelers, when the payments result from travel on official business. The difference in treatment between these payments and payments made by air carriers to travelers voluntarily giving up their seats on overbooked airplanes (which the travelers would be allowed to keep) is explained in Elizabeth Duplantier, 67 Comp.Gen. 328 (1988).

Ervin E. Dvorak:

A certifying officer for the Federal Aviation Administration requests an advance decision whether Mr. Ervin E. Dvorak may keep any part of the compensation paid to him by an airline because it overbooked the flight on which Mr. Dvorak had an agency-financed ticket and denied his boarding on that flight. Although John B. Currier, 59 Comp.Gen. 95 (1979), held that an employee may not keep denied boarding compensation, the agency asks whether it has any discretion in deciding whether to allow an employee to keep any part of this compensation.

We have consistently held that, where a federal employee travels on official business and is denied boarding on a scheduled airline flight, it is the government that stands to be damaged by the airline's default in overbooking the flight. See John B. Currier, supra; Tyrone Brown, B-192841, Feb. 5, 1979. Under the current regulatory scheme, gratuities received from the airlines in conjunction with official travel must be integrated into the agency travel plans to maximize the benefit to the government, and cash compensation such as denied boarding compensation must be deposited into the Treasury. 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101-25.103 (1989). Exceptions have not been permitted even where the government incurs no additional subsistence expense or the employee reports for duty at the same time as originally intended. Therefore, the Federal Aviation Administration has no discretion to apportion any part of the denied boarding compensation in this case to Mr. Dvorak. Defense Logistics Agency, B-210717.2, Feb. 24, 1984. See also Michael Farbman, et al., 67 Comp.Gen. 79 (1987).

Mr. Dvorak believes that his denied boarding compensation should be treated as if it were compensation paid by an airline for an employee voluntarily giving up his seat on an overbooked airplane. We have allowed an employee to keep payments made by an airline for voluntarily vacating his seat on an overbooked airplane primarily in furtherance of regulations issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board encouraging passengers to voluntarily relinquish their seats. Charles E. Armer, 59 Comp.Gen. 203 (1980); Edmundo Rede, Jr., B-196145, Jan. 14, 1980. The employee is allowed to do so, however, only under certain specified conditions to preclude any loss to the government. See Elizabeth Duplantier, 67 Comp.Gen. 328 (1988).These cases do not apply to Mr. Dvorak since he did not voluntarily relinquish his seat.

Accordingly, the denied boarding compensation must be remitted to the Treasury.