Constituent's Complaint About the Restriction on Federal Employees Using Foreign-Flag Air Carriers

PLRD-81-25: Published: May 4, 1981. Publicly Released: May 4, 1981.

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GAO was asked by a Congressman to look into a constituent's complaint concerning problems encountered as a result of the Fly America Act. Specific information was requested on investigations GAO had made regarding the Fly America Act, other negative feedback about it, and changes contemplated in the Act. GAO has carefully monitored the impact of the Act since its enactment. A recent amendment to the Act is intended to make the Act less restrictive and should lessen the inconvenience and burden previously imposed on Government travelers. The Act now requires all Government employees and other Government-funded travelers going overseas on commercial aircraft to use American-flag carriers to the extent that such service is available.

GAO did not believe that the Fly America Act or the GAO guidelines could be held solely accountable for problems addressed by the constituent. Part of the problem was because of the actions of an American-flag carrier overseas. The carrier refused to transfer the constituent to a foreign-flag flight because he was traveling under Government orders. The American-flag carrier had no authority to refuse the transfer and, in doing so, caused an increase of 14 hours in the constituent's travel time. However, such a transfer, under the guidelines that were in effect at the time, could have resulted in the traveler being financially liable for using the foreign-flag service. Under the current guidelines, the delay time in this type of situation has been cut from 48 to 6 hours. Had the constituent been traveling under present guidelines, there would have been adequate justification for using foreign-flag service.

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