Government Should Recover Cost of Processing Airline Passengers Not on Official Business

LCD-76-230: Published: May 11, 1977. Publicly Released: May 11, 1977.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

From fiscal year (FY) 1968 through the first quarter of FY 1976, some 2.8 million people not on official business traveled free on Department of Defense (DOD) controlled aircraft. These individuals were mainly active-duty or retired military members and their dependents who traveled worldwide for personal reasons on a space-available basis.

Based on an average processing cost at military air terminals of $17 per person, the cost in FY 1975 to handle 460,000 space-available was $7.8 million. The Air Force also pays a $3 departure tax for each passenger leaving the U.S. on commercial aircraft. Space-available passengers have not been charged for terminal processing or departure tax. In 1976, GAO recommended collecting a service charge for terminal processing using the inflight meal collection system. The Assistant Secretary of Defense agreed with collecting the departure tax, but not a processing fee, because he maintained that no additional staffing or costs are required for space-available passengers.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should reconsider the DOD position. Assessing a nominal processing charge would ensure continuation of full space-available benefits without adding to government costs, and would eliminate the need to further reduce terminal staffing.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Feb 28, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Jan 16, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

Dec 14, 2017

Dec 4, 2017

Nov 30, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 2, 2017

Oct 31, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here