State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Division of Finance

Alaska Department of Administration, Division of Finance
Administration >  Division of Finance >  Travel >  Travel FAQs

Travel

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions below to see their corresponding answers.

Air Travel

01. May a traveler use companion coupons in conjunction with State travel?

Yes, the traveler is required to book and pay for the entire cost upfront using a personal versus State form of payment, and the State will reimburse the employee for the full cost of the business travel when the travel authorization is finalized. The employee remains responsible for the costs associated with utilizing the coupon including the related fees and taxes. E-Travel must be used to determine the State portion of the trip prior to travel. AAM 60.080

02. An employee or non-employee traveling on official State business acquired an airline ticket by cashing in an airline mileage coupon and used the ticket for State business travel. May the State pay this individual the amount a similar ticket would have cost had it been purchased?

No, the employee or non-employee traveling on official State business is not entitled to any payment except to be "reimbursed" for actual and necessary expenses incurred. AAM 60.010

03. Can a traveler be required to fly a particular airline?

The State can require an employee to fly a particular airline. The State in making a decision about which airline to fly is to have considered cost, contracts and convenience of the schedule, etc. The ultimate decision rests on what is in the best interests of the State. (Source: AAM 60.050)

04. How is accumulated mileage tracked and spent?

All mileage is earned in a single EasyBiz account that is tracked by the travel management contractor for each department. Departments identify who on their staff is authorized to "spend" miles. The travel management contractor purchases travel with mileage when directed to do so by authorized department personnel.

05. Does E-Travel affect a traveler's ability to accumulate miles?

No, travelers will still receive "seat miles" unless flying on a ticket purchased with EasyBiz miles.

06. Why does all of the Alaska Airlines mileage accrual go to a statewide pool and not to the department?

The Alaska Airlines contract provides the state a discount on all published fares, except web specials, in place of mileage accrual. There will still be some accrual, but it is estimated that the state may only accrue enough miles for one or two tickets per year. Having a statewide pool allows the opportunity to aggregate miles earned to redeem for a ticket instead of having a small amount of miles spread between the departments, which individually would not provide a redemption opportunity.

The state can accrue miles by "purchasing" tickets through the E-Travel Office for the following:

  • E-Certificates
  • Group Discount Codes
  • Constituent Fares

07. What are the guidelines to use mileage from the statewide pool?

Beginning July 1, 2011 all mileage accrual is being deposited into the statewide pool. Mileage redemption is available on an as-needed basis with the following recommended guidelines:

  • Ticket is for out of state travel
  • The ticket value is $800 or more
  • Ticket is for a non-profiled traveler
  • No travel deviation is permitted

Requests to use mileage from the statewide pool should be sent to the ETMT.

08. What is the rural air contract and who administers it?

The rural air solicitation is sent out by the Department of Administration, Division of General Services to rural carriers throughout the state of Alaska.

The intent of the solicitation is to provide non-emergency rural air carrier service for Medicaid recipients. However, all State agencies may utilize the rural contract rates, at their option.

09. When booking rural travel, why is the “state contract rate” occasionally higher than the regular or published rate?

The state contract rates are primarily used for Medicaid travel because of the requirement for fully refundable, non-penalty fares that allow for multiple and frequent travel updates common to this group of travelers.

Regular or published fares are available to the public. These fares can fluctuate multiple times a day as an airline attempts to maximize revenue for a given flight. Prices may also vary by the source of booking (E-Travel, direct to carrier, or carrier website).

State contract rates and published fares may differ due to several factors. There are markets where the state rate is lower than the refundable published fare and markets where they are identical. The state contract rate may occasionally be higher than the published fare because rates are:

  • Unrestricted (no penalties)
  • Refundable
  • Based on Intra Alaska Bush Service Mail Rates and the aircraft type flown in the designated market
  • Billable to an account and paid after travel has commenced

10. How do I know which rural fare to book?

Regardless of the booking source (E-Travel, direct to carrier, or carrier website), travel arrangers should always request the lowest available fare (refundable or nonrefundable). The state contract rate should be booked only when it is lower than or equal to the equivalent published fare.

Return to list of FAQ Topics

E-Travel

01. What is E-Travel?

E-Travel is the managed travel program within the Executive Branch of the State of Alaska. It is comprised of:

  1. Travel policies contained in AAM 60
  2. E-Travel Online, which is the online tool used for approving, purchasing, and reimbursing travel provided by the contracted travel agency
  3. Travel management contractor
  4. Other contracts with vendors in the travel industry including airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies
  5. E-Travel Management Team (ETMT), which includes the State Travel Manager, as well as others from the Division of Finance that support this program
  6. Travel coordinators, travel administrators, and travel planners within each department
  7. Employees and others traveling on official State business

02. What is the role of travel coordinators, travel administrators, and travel planners?

Travel coordinators are the lead within each department for travel policy interpretation and enforcement. They act as liaisons with the E-Travel Management Team (ETMT) for departmental issues with E-Travel and provide input into policy development. Travel coordinators analyze travel data for their department for policy compliance and identify the need for traveler or travel planner education. Generally each department has one travel coordinator and a backup.

Travel administrators are department personnel responsible for maintaining the travel profiles for their department. They may or may not also be the department's travel coordinator.

Travel planners are individuals within each department that support travelers by making travel arrangements, explaining policies, ensuring travel is approved prior to purchase, and ensuring reimbursement occurs timely after travel is complete. Departments designate a sufficient number of travel planners to meet their business requirements.

03. What is required for travel approvals?

Approvals require:

  1. the name of the travel arranger, and
  2. the name of the approving official.

Departments document their internal approval processes (who can approve in what circumstances) on a per trip basis by entering the information when purchasing in E-Travel Online or by giving the information to the travel management contractor agent when purchasing by phone.

04. Can travelers be set up to select their own arrangements?

Yes. All employees with travel profiles can use E-Travel Online to choose air, car, and hotel options, and to save the research for their travel planner. Research can be emailed to the traveler's supervisor and/or travel planner for approval and purchase.

In addition, departments are encouraged to allow travelers or purchase their own reservations using E-Travel Online. Travel planners can monitor their travelers' purchases in the tool.

05. Can I still call the travel management contractor for travel arrangements?

Yes. The travel management contractor can be reached at 907-500-4292 or 866-762-8728 for travel agent assistance with itineraries.

06. When should travelers contact the travel management contractor directly?

All travelers can contact the travel management contractor for assistance as necessary during travel. The after-hours emergency number is 888-423-2434. For after-hours bookings, refer to your department's travel policies to determine the rules for booking emergency travel. In addition, any travelers or travel planners using E-Travel Online may call 907-500-4290 for assistance with the tool or send an email using the contact information located at the bottom of each page within the E-Travel Online tool.

07. Should the travel management contractor be used for arranging travel for non-employees?

Yes. E-Travel serves the entire Executive Branch including boards, commissions, witnesses, inmates, and others in State care. E-Travel should not be used for contractors or trainers whose travel should be included in their contract for services.

08. What are the fees associated with E-Travel?

The fee is charged for a trip (any combination of air, ferry, rental car, and hotel) and consists of two components:

  1. The contractor's portion was established by competitive bid (currently $6.50 for unassisted and $15.50 for travel agent assisted itineraries), but the contract allows amendments based on CPI and up or down 20% based on performance. Changes to itineraries are $7.75 and Refunds processed in E-Travel Online are $5.00 for the contractor's portion.
  2. Department of Administration's recovery of E-Travel Management Team (ETMT) costs, which are subject to OMB approval (current fees can be found on the E-Travel Fees page).

09. How are traveler profiles updated?

Travelers may add personal information such as mileage plan numbers, seating preferences, personal phone numbers, secure flight and emergency contact information to their profile in E-Travel Online.

Charge card information will update automatically within two days once the cardholder activates their card.

Traveler name changes are systematically updated using the legal name in LDAP.

10. E-Travel reflects a sold-out flight, but I am able to get the last seat when I call the MVP Gold Desk. Can I make the change with the MVP Gold Desk or do I have to take what E-Travel has available?

Travelers with MVP Gold status are elite members with benefits coming directly from Alaska Airlines and they may call the MVP Gold desk when E-Travel is sold-out.

Travelers without Elite mileage status may request that an agent waitlist them for a flight. However, travelers with Elite status are given priority.

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Per Diems

01. Must departments rigidly adhere to the travel timeframes in AAM 60.040?

Individuals approving travel may use judgment in determining what departure times best serve the State. For example, for travel crossing several time zones, it may be beneficial to begin the travel the previous day so travelers are rested for the purpose of the trip. AAM 60.040

02. Is the rental of a travel trailer considered commercial lodging, or noncommercial lodging?

The rental of a travel trailer would be considered commercial lodging under AAM 60.020 as long as the trailer is rented from a vendor in the business of renting travel trailers.

03. What is the appropriate per diem to pay a GGU or SU employee who is staying in their motor home while on long-term travel status within Alaska?

This depends on where the motor home is located:

  1. If at a commercial campground, traveler receives actual receipted lodging cost for first 30 days, then $45 per day long term-lodging allowance.
  2. If not at commercial facility, traveler receives $30 per day noncommercial lodging allowance for first 30 days. After the 30th day, traveler continues to receive $30 a day if in location where no commercial facilities are available. If commercial facilities are available but not used, no lodging allowance after the 30th day.
  3. In either situation, the employee also receives $33 a day M&IE allowance.

04. If an employee is traveling to a village where there are no commercial lodging facilities, what per diem are they allowed?

The purpose of the travel policies, per AAM 60.010, is to provide reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses incurred by employees because of travel on State business. If an employee travels to a location where it is known they will not incur lodging expenses consistent with the rate at which per diem was established, they are only allowed a per diem or reimbursement commensurate with the expenses they are likely to incur. Lodging per diem for noncommercial is $30 a day or receipted costs, whichever is higher. AAM 60.240

05. If an employee is temporarily assigned for a few months to a duty station away from the normal duty station and residence, and returns to the residence in the interim, should the State pay long-term lodging allowance while at the residence?

If the employee is incurring expenses to pay for lodging at the temporary duty station and it is necessary to do so to retain the lodging for the duration of the assignment, the State pays the long-term lodging allowance even when the employee is at the residence. AAM 60.240

06. Does an employee who works in Anchorage and is assigned to Juneau during the Legislative session receive the long-term per diem rate for the entire time they are in Juneau, or do they receive the short-term per diem rate for the first 30 days and then receive the long-term per diem rate for all days after that?

If it is known from the outset of the trip that the employee will be in long-term travel status (more than 30 consecutive days in a location with commercial facilities for long-term visitors), then the entire trip shall be at the long-term per diem rate. Short-term per diem would be used in circumstances where an employee travels to a location, begins the project, and then is required to stay longer than anticipated. Even in this example, at the point it is known the employee will be there long enough to incur expenses comparable to those arising from the use of establishments catering to the long-term visitor; the long-term per diem rate should be used. However, this interpretation applies only to employees subject to the administrative manual provisions, as some of the bargaining agreements have different rules regarding long-term per diem. AAM 60.240

07. A noncommercial lodging allowance is paid when travelers elect to stay in noncommercial lodging for short-term travel within Alaska. Does this mean the traveler is to receive this allowance whether they ask for it or not, and even if they specifically state they do not want it?

Yes, for member of bargaining units. They must be paid the noncommercial lodging allowance unless a Letter of Agreement to the contrary is signed between the union and the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations.

Noncovered employees who wish to decline the noncommercial lodging option may do so. This choice should be documented as part of the final travel reimbursement.

08. For travel outside the State of Alaska, how is the incidentals portion of the M&IE amount handled?

Travelers are entitled to the full incidental portion of the M&IE ($5 for short term and $3 for long term) for each day or portion of a day they are in travel status outside Alaska and M&IE is provided for one or more meals for that day. For full days, the total CONUS amount for the location is used. For partial days, or days in which a meal is provided, the traveler is entitled to sum of the remaining meal amounts and full incidentals portion of the M&IE.

Note: The Federal Government has defined travel to Hawaii as Outside CONUS (OCONUS), non-foreign overseas travel. The OCONUS per diem rates are determined by the Department of Defense. Travelers are entitled to the Local Meals and the full Local Incidental for the island on which the traveler obtained overnight lodging. AAM 60.250

09. If an employee (PSEA bargaining unit) leaves their duty station on a trip, but is not required to obtain overnight lodging that first night because they are traveling overnight by plane, are they entitled to the lodging portion of the per diem for that first day?

This was discussed with Labor Relations. The PSEA language is intending to reimburse costs for lodging. Therefore, if the employee incurs costs for lodging for that first day, they would be entitled to per diem for lodging. However, if no overnight lodging is required then they are only entitled to the applicable meal allowance.

10. Is an employee entitled to receive per diem upon arrival at the new duty station (under the moving section policies in the Administrative Manual) plus per diem while in business travel status during this same time period?

If it is reasonable to presume the employee is incurring expenses for lodging at their duty station related to the move to the new duty station in addition to expenses while in travel status, the employee would be entitled to the appropriate lodging and M&IE allowance while in travel status, plus the lodging portion of the per diem (which is related to the move) at the duty station. For example, the employee's spouse remains at the duty station location looking for housing while the employee is traveling on State business. AAM 60.240

11. An LTC employee is sent to a location for several days to perform inspections of a vendor's facilities. The vendor provides the employee with lodging and meals. Is the employee entitled to a per diem for lodging and meals?

The LTC contract, section 15.02, allows an LTC employee to receive a per diem for lodging if quarters are not furnished. Since quarters were furnished, the employee is not entitled to the lodging portion of the per diem. Section 15.03 allows an LTC employee to receive an M&IE allowance any time they are more than 50 miles away from their duty station in accordance with section 60.250 of the Alaska Administrative Manual. AAM 60.250 states, "When a traveler is provided a meal in these or similar circumstances (meals provided by vendor), the traveler is not eligible for the related M&IE allowance unless sufficient justification is provided by the traveler and approved to obtain the M&IE allowance." The M&IE payments in this situation are treated as taxable compensation.

12. A GGU employee is sent to a location on long-term travel. The employee is staying in a commercial facility (hotel) for a week until their long-term lodging facility is available. What is the appropriate M&IE at this location?

The reason for long-term M&IE is to reimburse an employee for M&IE associated with staying in a facility which is catering to the long-term visitor. If the employee is staying in an apartment or other long-term stay facility, the employee would be entitled to the long-term M&IE. However, if the employee is staying in a hotel, it is usually expected that they will be eating their meals at a commercial facility and they would be entitled to the short-term M&IE. Therefore, in this instance, the employee is entitled to the short-term M&IE for the first week while staying in the hotel, and then the long-term after that. AAM 60.250

13. A witness is entitled to the same per diem for lodging and meals as allowed State employees. When a witness must bring their dependent children with them, what is the appropriate M&IE rate?

Although this is not specifically addressed in section AAM 60.250, if it is necessary for a witness to bring their dependent children with them, reimbursement should be at the rate allowed for dependents during a move, which is $25 per day.

14. What is the appropriate M&IE for the first 30 days of travel when a GGU employee is traveling in long-term travel status where they are provided with lodging by the State and only need to be paid an M&IE?

The GGU contract provides for an M&IE allowance in accordance with Administrative Manual section AAM 60.250. In this instance, we have knowledge the employee is in long-term travel status at the beginning of the travel. Therefore the appropriate M&IE allowance is the long-term rate.

15. Is a traveler entitled to a meal allowance if they awaited an outbound flight at the local airport on a day flights were delayed due to weather or mechanical problems?

If it were reasonable and necessary for the employee to sit at the airport, the employee would be entitled to the appropriate meal allowance even though they may be at their duty station. AAM 60.250

16. What is the appropriate M&IE allowance to use on the day an employee returns to their duty station?

The M&IE allowance is the rate for the location from which the employee is departing. AAM 60.250

17. Should a traveler's meal allowance be reduced when meals are provided as part of travel costs the State is paying, such as at a conference or as part of lodging?

Yes, if a meal was provided as part of the fee for a conference or is part of a lodging package, such as staying in a bed and breakfast, the employee would not be eligible for that meal allowance. If an employee does not choose to partake in a meal provided to them, they must provide written justification and obtain approval by the department to obtain the meal allowance. If a cold complimentary continental breakfast such as toast and pastries is served at a hotel and is not consumed by the traveler, then no deduction for the meal allowance should be made. Department travel desks should ensure that travelers understand this and reflect it on the travel authorization or expense report. AAM 60.250

18. If the State has contracted with a facility to provide meals for their travelers while on State business, can they still collect the meal per diem?

No, in this particular case, the State has a contract with the vendor to provide meals for the travelers. This situation would fall under AAM 60.260, contracting for subsistence, and the issue of whether the meal was consumed would not be a factor.

19. If an employee is on official travel status (outside their duty station boundary), but that status is less than twelve hours, are they eligible to receive any allowance for meals?

No, this would be considered a "day trip" and no allowance for meals would be provided, except for LTC employee in travel status at least ten hours. AAM 60.250

20. Since the travel status definition only refers to the duty station, does this preclude travelers from receiving per diem when they depart from their residences on State business?

Travel status eligibility is determined based upon the duty station location and the destination of the approved trip. When an employee is driving to a destination and departing outside normal work hours, the trip begins when the employee leaves the employee's residence. When the employee is flying, the flight departure time plus the two-hour required check-in time is used as the basis for when the trip begins.

21. If an employee is in travel status, yet staying at the employee's own residence at the travel destination, is the employee eligible to receive per diem for lodging and/or meals?

A traveler staying at the traveler's residence in a travel destination is entitled to receive a meal allowance for normal workdays. No allowance would be paid for lodging and no meal allowance would be paid for regular days off.

22. Can travel status start earlier than two hours before scheduled departure if the traveler must drive more than 50 miles to the airport?

Travel status is based on duty station, not residence. If substantial driving is required from the duty station to the airport, then the drive time may be added to the two hours in advance of scheduled departure time that is generally allowed. However if the traveler lives farther from the airport than the duty station, travel status is limited to the two hours in advance of scheduled departure. Mileage reimbursement is allowable for all travelers for the distance actually traveled to and from the airport.

23. Can an employee with an Anchorage duty station receive per diem for an overnight stay in Palmer or Girdwood?

Generally not as both of these locations are within the 50-mile radius used by the State of Alaska to define travel status. However, AAM 60.010 allows commissioners to approve policy exceptions for personnel within their departments based on documented circumstances or unique business requirements. Commissioners may make such exceptions to put employees in travel status for a business reason such as meeting or networking activities scheduled in the evening, or to avoid hazardous winter driving conditions. Exceptions of this nature must be in writing and include the justification. When exceptions are approved, the employee is in travel status and is entitled to lodging and an M&IE allowance. However, they would be considered taxable to the employee as they are not outside of their duty station boundary.

24. What is the methodology used for calculating M&IE when traveling to Hawaii?

Hawaii per diem rates are listed on the Department of Defense Travel Per Diem query under OUTSIDE CONUS (OCONUS), Non-Foreign Overseas and Foreign. Select HAWAII and the radio button “EXCLUDE” for military installations. Verify that the applicable “PUBLISHED” date is selected. From the resulting per diem table, the M&IE calculation equals the Local Meals plus Local Incidentals.

The calculation example below assumes the employee was provided breakfast and lunch on two days. The Local Meal is prorated because the employee is not eligible for the full day meal allowance and the full Local Incidental is added. Travelers are entitled to the full incidental portion of the M&IE for that Hawaiian location for each day or portion of a day they are in travel status in Hawaii and M&IE is provided for one or more meals for that day. (The table for M&IE percentages is published on the Division of Finance website).

M&IE at OCONUS destination = $106
(Local Meal Rate) + $ 27 (Local Incidental)

Date Meals M&IE
10/2/2013 B / L / D $ 133.00 ($ 106 + 27)
10/3/2013 D $ 83.00 [(53% x $ 106) + 27)]
Rounded to the nearest dollar
10/4/2013 D $ 83.00 [(53% x $ 106) + 27)]
Rounded to the nearest dollar
10/5/2013 B / L / D $ 133.00 ($ 106 + 27)
  Total $ 432.00
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Personal Travel

01. What is a personal travel deviation?

When a traveler stays longer at the State-authorized destination for personal reasons, it is a deviation with an extended stay. When a traveler goes to a different destination outside of the State-authorized destination, it is considered a personal deviation with a routing change. AAM 60.080

02. Do I have to use E-Travel or E-Travel Online to book travel that includes personal travel?

It depends. Employees traveling on State business that are authorized to include a personal deviation are not able to book travel through E-Travel or E-Travel Online if a personal form of payment is necessary for any portion of the trip or when the routing is different than the State authorized routing.

Personal travel that includes an extended stay must use E-Travel when the department has approved the use of a State form of payment for the entire trip. AAM 60.080 #2

03. If my trip includes personal travel with a routing change how do I book my airfare?

The airfare must be booked and purchased by the traveler on their own time outside of E-Travel Online using a personal form of payment (not the State One Card). A State-authorized fare quote must be obtained when the travel is approved for a price comparison to determine traveler reimbursement. Once travel is completed the traveler must present a copy of the ticket receipt or itinerary showing payment and the State-authorized fare quote to obtain reimbursement. AAM 60.080 #2 & #3

04. What are my options if the personal travel is an extended stay at some point in the State-authorized routing?

If the personal deviation is an extended stay at some point in State-authorized routing, departments may opt to pay for the combined trip (State-authorized portion including the personal extension) if the additional cost of the personal portion can be recovered from the traveler's reimbursement after travel is complete. A State-authorized fare quote must be obtained as a basis for determining the reimbursement amount.

If the department cannot or chooses not to collect the additional cost of the personal travel from reimbursement, the traveler will have to book the trip outside of E-Travel using a personal form of payment, and after obtaining a State-authorized fare quote for determining the reimbursement amount. Once travel is completed, the traveler must present a copy of the ticket receipt or itinerary showing payment and the State-authorized fare quote to obtain reimbursement. AAM 60.080 #2 & #3

05. What is a State-authorized fare quote and how do I get one?

A State-authorized fare quote is a quote that determines the cost of a State-authorized business trip without any personal travel. The fare quote may be obtained in E-Travel Online or by calling the travel management contractor at 866-762-8728 or 500-4292 (in Juneau). This fare quote will be sent back to the department and used to determine the amount of money reimbursed to the traveler once the travel has been completed. The State-authorized fare quote must be obtained prior to the purchase of the ticket for equivalent price comparison. AAM 60.080 #3

06. What are the fees associated with a State-authorized fare quote?

There is no fee for using the research option in E-Travel Online to save or print out a State-authorized fare quote. If the traveler or travel planner calls the travel management contractor for a fare quote when the travel is approved, the agent assistance fee will be charged to the State form of payment. If no State-authorized fare quote was obtained prior to travel, the travel planner will obtain a fare quote for the lowest fare for the State routing as part of completing the travel authorization, and the fee will be charged to the traveler. AAM 60.080 #3

07. How much of the airfare cost will the State reimburse the traveler?

The State will reimburse the lesser amount of either the actual ticket cost or State-authorized fare quote after travel is complete. If cases where no fare quote was obtained prior to travel, the travel planner will call the contracted travel agency for a quote for the cheapest fare currently available for the State routing, and the State will pay the lesser of the actual ticket cost or the new quote, regardless of whether it was available previously. AAM 60.080 #3

08. What if the State-authorized fare quote increases between the time it is submitted for approval and the time it is approved?

Approvers should strive to take action quickly on requests to avoid increases of this nature. In cases of delayed approval, a new State-authorized fare quote may be obtained upon approval to provide the comparison fare for calculating the amount to be reimbursed the traveler.

09. How much will the State reimburse the traveler for travel with deviation for personal convenience?

Per diem, travel allowances, and reimbursements are calculated for the minimum itinerary that is required to conduct state business without regard for the actual itinerary that includes the deviation for personal convenience.

Example: Employee is scheduled for a conference in Florida (Tuesday-Thursday); the employee is staying over in Florida until Sunday and then flying to Seattle, where they spend two nights before returning home to Juneau on the following Wednesday. Direct route would fly from Juneau to Florida Monday, return Friday because there are no flights leaving Florida for Seattle after 5:00pm when conference ends on Thursday.

Direct Route Per Diem and Hotel

  • Per Diem - Florida per diem - Monday through Friday - $56 per day and Friday is a full travel day for a total of $280.
  • Hotel - Four nights at $150 per night. The State will pay the cost of four nights (Monday through Thursday) at the hotel for a total of $600.

Deviation Per Diem and Hotel - Without regard to actual in and out of travel status, the State would reimburse the direct route per diem and hotel.

  • Per Diem - total of $280.
  • Hotel - total of $600.

10. Can a traveler elect to stay over the weekend, collecting per diem and hotel if the total cost of the trip is less than returning on Friday?

Generally not. AS 39.20.140(d) authorizes travel only the least number of days necessary to transact State business, so cost comparisons of this nature are irrelevant.

11. Can a traveler elect to stay over the weekend, or use leave in conjunction with State travel?

Yes, with prior approval. Deviations for traveler convenience are allowable when approved by the applicable department in advance of the travel. Several conditions apply to personal time in conjunction with State travel:

  1. any additional cost for routing is borne by the traveler;
  2. State airfares cannot be used for personal travel routing and can only be used for deviations with extended stay when the department opts to pay for the combined airfare, AAM 60.080 #2;
  3. State rental cars must be returned, AAM 60.080#4;
  4. lodging for the personal portion is subject to all taxes and must be paid by the employee, AAM 60.065; and
  5. State per diem and reimbursements are allowed for the minimum itinerary that is required to conduct State business without regard for the actual itinerary that includes the deviation for personal convenience. AAM 60.080 #1
  6. Taxi or shuttle service to the airport during deviation travel is reimbursable if it normally would be considered as part of the minimum business itinerary.

12. An employee on State travel status concluded State business on Friday, but rather than return on Friday evening's flight, stayed on personal business for the weekend and was scheduled to return on Sunday. The Sunday flight was not able to return because of weather, and the employee incurred additional expenses for lodging and meals. May the State reimburse the employee for those expenses?

No. The employee is not entitled to reimbursement for these additional expenses. Any additional time or expense resulting from a deviation for employee convenience is the responsibility of the employee. AAM 60.080

13. A traveler must be at work in Dallas on Monday at 3:00pm. The minimum itinerary to conduct State business would fly to Seattle on Sunday evening, and into Dallas on Monday morning. The traveler chooses to go to Seattle on the previous Friday evening and stay with family for the weekend, flying to Dallas on Monday morning. Is the traveler entitled to the value of a hotel room?

No, because the traveler stayed with family. Lodging is limited to a reimbursement of actual costs required for the minimum State business itinerary. If the traveler incurred lodging expenses in Seattle anytime between Friday and Sunday, the State would reimburse the cost of one night lodging at a moderately priced hotel as required by the minimum State business itinerary.

The traveler is entitled to M&IE beginning on Sunday afternoon two hours before the scheduled departure of the last flight to Seattle.

14. A traveler is on duty through Thursday at 5:00pm in New York. Instead of flying home on Friday (minimum business itinerary), pre-trip the traveler requests and is authorized for a personal deviation to stay the weekend, and fly home on Monday. Is leave required for traveling during a work day as a result of this personal deviation? What if work ended at 5:00pm on Friday, and the traveler could have flown home on Saturday. Is leave required to fly home on Monday?

Yes, leave is required because in both scenarios it requires traveling outside the minimum business itinerary. It is irrelevant whether the minimum business itinerary would require flying on a work day or weekend. However leave is not required for Friday, when the first minimum business itinerary would have required travel.

Overtime-eligible employees are paid for required travel for the minimum business itinerary regardless of whether it occurs on Friday or Saturday. They would be paid for "travel as time worked" for the hours of travel within the minimum business itinerary without regard for the Monday flight times. Payroll costs cannot be increased by personal travel deviations.

The time worked calculations are not part of travel processing.

Supervisors are responsible for ensuring subordinate staff work or turn in leave slips appropriately regardless of travel status. AAM 60.080 #5

Example:
FAQ Example

15. A traveler must attend a conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the minimum business itinerary requires travel on Tuesday and Thursday. Pre-trip, the traveler requests and is authorized for a personal deviation to fly on Monday and Friday, in order to spend extra time enjoying San Francisco. When is leave required?

Leave is required for Monday and Friday, as the minimum business itinerary requires travel on Tuesday and Thursday. The traveler would be in work pay status for the same period they would be eligible for travel reimbursements - two nights hotel stay and M&IE Tuesday through Thursday.

Example:
FAQ Example

16. A traveler is working in Anchorage until Friday noon. Instead of returning home to Juneau Friday afternoon (minimum business itinerary), pre-trip the traveler requests and is authorized for a personal deviation to travel to Fairbanks for the weekend and return to work in Juneau on Monday afternoon. When is leave required?

Leave is required for the time related to flying home on Monday. Leave is not required for Friday afternoon, as the minimum business itinerary required flying home during that period.

Example:
FAQ Example

17. Is business travel combined with a pre-trip authorized personal deviation covered by the workers' compensation?

"An identifiable deviation from a business trip for personal reasons takes the employee out of the course of employment until the employee returns to the route of the business trip, unless the deviation is so small as to be disregarded as insubstantial." ...

- Arthur Larson & Lex K. Larson, Larson's Workers' Compensation Law § 17, at 17-1 (2009).

When an employee is on a business trip, but sustains an injury during a personal deviation in either time, route, or mode of travel from that required for solely for State business itinerary, he may not be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The challenge is determining whether any particular personal errand or deviation by a travelling employee has distinctly departed from the course of employment. Each individual situation needs to be carefully weighed and measured. Pay status or payment of per diem at the time of the injury are just two of many factors considered. Each scenario is unique. The greater the personal deviation - the more likely the departure from the course of employment and thereby workers' compensation coverage. Risk Management will consult with the Assistant Attorney General who specialize in workers' compensation law before any final determination of workers' compensation remedy is determined.

18. Can a traveler accept a voluntary bump on an oversold flight in exchange for a bonus travel ticket or credit to be used for personal travel?

Yes, with certain caveats. Traveler is opting for personal travel, so two limitations:

  1. May not volunteer for denied boarding on the outbound flight unless previously approved for personal travel at the beginning of the travel period.
  2. Cannot cause a delay in return to work. Consequences of voluntarily bumping that travelers need to understand: Travel status ends, no further per diem or reimbursement, and all State insurance coverage ceases for duration of the trip. AAM 60.080 #8

19. If an employee is on personal leave away from their duty station and it is necessary to bring them back to their duty station to conduct State business, may the State pay for the transportation to bring them to their duty station?

If it is in the best interest of the State and there are no other alternatives (such as teleconference, etc.), an agency may pay for transportation to bring the employee back to their duty station to conduct State business. Arrangements for continuing the personal leave depend on business circumstances, but agencies may, at their discretion, pay to return the employee back to the leave location.

20. If an employee has approved leave and plans personal travel, and it is subsequently determined must travel for State business during the same period, how much will the State pay for the business travel?

The State will only pay the additional costs for the traveler to deviate from their personal travel to the business location. This may include a ticket reissue, fees, and/or penalties, as well as lodging and meals and incidentals expense, related to the business portion of the travel.

21. If an extended-stay personal deviation request is approved and purchased, and then the traveler later chooses to not to exercise their deviation, what, if any, additional cost would there be to the State to reschedule the travel?

There should be no additional cost to the state. AAM 60.080 states that "any additional time or expense resulting from an interruption or deviation for traveler convenience shall be borne solely by the traveler." Assuming there is no change in the business need for travel, the state authorized fare quote from the original minimum business itinerary (created when the extended-stay deviation travel request was approved) sets the standard for the trip (airfare cost, need for lodging and rental vehicles, defines length of travel status for meal periods, etc). This original minimum business itinerary remains valid even though a traveler may withdraw their deviation request after travel has been purchased.

If a traveler withdraws their deviation request after a ticket is purchased, additional costs may be incurred to reschedule their travel including change fees, a difference resulting from a higher ticket cost than the original minimum business itinerary fare quote, or extra per diem costs resulting from full flights that do not allow the traveler to return per the original minimum business itinerary. These additional costs are a direct result of a personal deviation modification and should be borne solely by the traveler.

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Reimbursements

01. An employee, for personal reasons, departed on a scheduled State business trip two days before they would have had they only been traveling for State business. May they be reimbursed for the additional two days parking fees?

No. The cost of the additional two days parking is not a business-related expense. AAM 60.010 states "The purpose of the travel policies is to provide reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred by employees while traveling on State business." Also, AAM 60.080 specifies that any additional expense resulting from a deviation of travel for employee convenience shall be borne solely by the employee.

02. Is an employee entitled to reimbursement for mileage, parking, and/or other expense reimbursement if, for training or other job-related purposes, the employee must report to a different location while at their duty station?

The answer depends on the circumstances. If an employee is required to report to work at their normal location, travel to attend class, and then report back to work, they are entitled to reimbursement for mileage between the normal location and the temporary assignment.

Likewise, mileage incurred for commuting to/from a temporary worksite is reimbursable to the extent that it exceeds the distance from the employee's residence to the normal work location.

In addition to mileage, employees may be reimbursed for other actual and necessary business related expenses, such as parking, when assigned to a temporary work location.

Employees may not be reimbursed for mileage from home to the normal work location under any circumstances.

03. What is the process for reimbursing the traveler or the State once travel is complete?

The total costs of a trip are summarized on an expense report, exception expense report, or the Excel travel authorization form approved by the Department of Administration. Any travel advances are subtracted from the bottom line, and the difference is reimbursed to the traveler or to the State.

(a) Amounts due to travelers should be directly deposited to their bank accounts per AS 37.25.050

(b) Amounts due the State will be deducted from State payroll, so all employees must complete a Travel Advance Authorization form in order to receive an advance. Non-employees should include the payment for reimbursement due the State with travel receipts when the trip costs are summarized. AAM 60.210

04. An employee was advanced funds at the beginning of their State business travel that exceeded the amount of their reimbursable expenses and allowable per diem. The employee did not submit a personal check with the reimbursement form as required, and refuses to write a check to the State or otherwise submit the funds necessary to pay the amount owed. May we withhold the amount owed from their paycheck?

Yes. Under AS 39.20.150(b), a setoff against salary due the employee is one means of recovering amounts owed by an employee. Under State policy, all travel advances require employee notification that any monies owed the State of Alaska by the traveler shall be deducted from the employee's paycheck. AAM 60.070

05. Are receipts required to reimburse travelers for taxi fares?

Any item over $25 requires a receipt (or explanation as to why no receipt) for reimbursement. Reimbursement for unreceipted expenses are limited to $30 per trip. AAM 60.220

06. Is a board member entitled to reimbursement for expenses associated with dependent care while traveling on State business?

The State does not generally reimburse travelers for expenses associated with the care of dependents. Departments supporting boards have some latitude in this area for boards or board members with specialized needs, such as the Governor's Council on Disabilities & Special Education. AAM 60.010

07. Is a board member entitled to reimbursement for expenses associated with the care of their pets while traveling on State business?

No. The State does not reimburse travelers for expenses associated with the care of pets while they are traveling away from home. These are personal expenses and not reimbursable by the State. AAM 60.010

08. Can the State pay for a substitute teacher in order for a teacher who serves on a board to attend a board meeting?

No. The State does not reimburse costs incurred by board members to free their time for board meetings. These are personal expenses and not reimbursable by the State. AAM 60.010

09. Does the State of Alaska reimburse employees for valet parking?

Generally no, the State does not reimburse for valet parking. However, there may be circumstances in which incurring this cost may be appropriate. For instance, if there are concerns of safety or a physical impairment exists, management has the discretion to approve or disapprove the valet parking. Also, if there is a valid business reason for incurring the costs, that may also be taken into consideration. Written justification for the valet parking should be submitted along with the request for reimbursement.

10. Does the State of Alaska reimburse the employee for additional fees incurred with baggage assessed by the airlines?

Per AAM 60.110 - Excess Baggage, the State will only pay for excess baggage necessary to carry out official State business. The answer to this question depends on the business requirements of the trip in relation to the baggage.

It has now become common practice for the airlines industry to charge customers additional fees, and some of these fees include baggage. A traveler may be charged an additional fee if their baggage exceeds a maximum weight, or for the number of pieces. The limitations vary by airline.

Generally, the State pays for the first checked bag. If the baggage carried by the employee is overweight, or the number of bags results in additional cost, the supervisor may approve the costs for payment by the State if the costs result from necessary business items in the luggage and it is not possible to include these items in another bag or within a carry-on. Necessary business items include all State property transported for a business purpose, as well as a reasonable amount of business clothing commensurate with the duration of the business travel.

11. Does the State of Alaska reimburse the employee for additional fees for premium seating such as aisle, window, or exit row?

Generally no, the State will not pay for premium seating fees assessed by the airlines. Per AAM 60.050, Alaska Statute AS 39.20.140(b) requires the State pay no more than the "lowest tourist class fare for the most direct route" unless specific exemptions are met. The seating choice is a personal preference.

However, if there is a medical condition documented by a medical professional that requires a premium seat selection, the supervisor may approve the State to pay for a premium seat fee. For additional guidance in this area, please see AAM 60.190.

12. Does the State of Alaska reimburse the employee for additional fees assessed for blanket or pillows available upon request?

No, the State will not pay for any fees associated with blankets and/or pillows made available by the airlines. AAM 60.050

13. Does the State of Alaska reimburse the employee for additional fees assessed for headphones available upon request?

No, the State will not pay for any fees associated with headphones made available by the airlines. AAM 60.050

14. Does the State of Alaska reimburse the employee for the cost of a beverages, snacks, or meals available upon request?

No, the State will not pay for any costs associated with beverages, snacks, or meals. The M&IE given to the employee should be used for this purpose. AAM 60.250

15. Will the State reimburse employees for the cost of obtaining a passport?

No, the State would not purchase a passport for an employee for purposes of traveling outside of the United States. A passport is good for a number of years, and would personally benefit the individual far beyond the business use.

16. Will the state reimburse employees for the cost of renting a Global Positioning System (GPS)?

No, the state will not pay for the cost of a GPS. The use of a GPS is considered a personal choice, as alternative mapping options are available.

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Rental Cars

01. Why must State rental cars be turned in when travelers leave State travel status?

When leaving State travel status, the traveler must assume all liability and taxes associated with the car rental. AAM 60.080

02. What justification is required to rent larger than mid-size car?

Capacity requirements. Either the passengers or the baggage do not fit into a mid-size car. AAM 60.120

03. Is a non-employee traveling on State business eligible to rent a car under the State contract?

Yes, non-employees may use the car rental contracts when:

  1. The individual is traveling on official State business;
  2. The State is financially responsible for any fees associated with the car rental; and
  3. All reservations are made through the E-Travel Office.

04. Is the State required to pay the additional "pass-through" Customer Facility Charge (CFC) on rental cars from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport?

Yes, State of Alaska travelers are required to pay the current CFC. It is charged in addition to the contract rental rates.

05. If the car keys are lost or accidentally locked inside the rental car, is an employee entitled to reimbursement for lost key or locksmith charges?

No. This type of expense is under the control of the employee. Locksmith charges are similar to fines for traffic or parking violations that are also not reimbursed. AAM 60.220

06. Can employees who have restrictions on their driver’s license rent a vehicle?

This determination is made by the car rental company. The restriction code “J” means the driver is not allowed to purchase alcohol. This may not pose an issue to the vendor. However, if the restriction is “C” (requires a breathalyzer before driving) the vendor may not rent the vehicle because they do not have the equipment necessary to meet the license restriction requirement. If employees have any of these restrictions on their license, they are encouraged to verify the car rental policy prior to their trip.

07. When the state pays for a rental car for business purpose, can non-employees ride in the vehicle?

No. It is a personal choice to be accompanied on business travel and to use the vehicle for personal use. Travelers are required to pay for the rental vehicle with a personal form of payment, and then seek reimbursement for the business cost. (AAM 60.120 Rental Cars, AAM 60.080 Deviation of Travel)

A rental car is considered a “state vehicle” (FAQ Vehicles #2) and is bound by the same policy when used for state authorized business and when purchased with a state form of payment.

08. If I have to pay for a rental car while on state authorized business due to personal use, what is required to seek reimbursement for the business portion of the rental?

A State Minimum Business itinerary and receipts are required. The state will reimburse the rental cost of the State Minimum Business itinerary or the actual receipts of the rental contract (daily rate), whichever is less.

09. Will the state reimburse for other incurred costs, other than the daily rate, when the rental includes personal use?

No. Since the rental included personal use, the state will not reimburse for gas, insurance, fees, late returns, upgraded vehicles, or other miscellaneous charges that may be incurred.

10. How is the State Minimum Business itinerary rate determined for a rental car reimbursement?

Reimbursement is determined by the contract rate for the approved vehicle size in the city where the vehicle is rented. (The standard approved car size is Intermediate, unless otherwise approved.) For example:

  • Contract rates in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau are calculated using the Budget contract rate (regardless of personal vendor choice). See DOA General Services Contract Manual, Statewide Vehicle Rentals [PDF].
  • Contract rates for rentals in all other cities are calculated by using the WCSA car rental rates for Hertz, National, or Enterprise. The applicable city surcharge applies. See DOA General Services Contract Manual, Nationwide Vehicle Rental[PDF].

11. When there is no contract rate in the city where the vehicle is rented, how is reimbursement determined?

Reimbursement is calculated by the number of business days times the actual DAILY rate, not to include upgraded vehicles.

12. If I rent from a non-contract vendor in a city where a contract vendor rate applies how is reimbursement determined?

The state will reimburse the vendor contract rate (including applicable city surcharge) or actual receipts for the rental contract, whichever is less. The renter’s agency shall also be responsible for all damages to the rental vehicle that would have normally been covered under the vendor contract.

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Vehicles

01. Does State insurance cover an employee using their personal vehicle for State business?

State insurance generally covers liability exposure in excess of the employee's liability coverage. It does not cover damage to the employee's vehicle. See Division of Risk Management memo [PDF] for a more detailed explanation. AAM 60.140

02. While I am on travel status on official State business, can my spouse ride in the State vehicle with me?

No. Only individuals on official State business may travel in State vehicles.

03. My spouse drove me to the airport to depart on official State business. Will the State reimburse for round-trip mileage?

Yes, if the mileage round-trip is less than it would have cost using other modes of transportation or parking, the round-trip mileage would be reimbursed by the State.

04. Would an employee be eligible for mileage reimbursement for driving the employee's personal vehicle from the employee's residence to a location to attend required training?

Yes, to the extent the mileage between the employee's residence and the training facility exceeds the mileage between the residence and the normal work location. Also, if an employee were required to go to the employee's normal work location and then attend training outside the office, mileage is allowed for the trips between the office and the training facility.

05. If my boss requires me to take the State vehicle to my residence due to some vandalism that has occurred in the State parking lot, would that be a taxable fringe benefit?

Yes, any commuting activity in a State owned vehicle would be considered a taxable fringe benefit. The employee should fill out a daily trip log and forward this information to the departmental vehicle manager to be included in the payroll activity for that period. Please refer to the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities web page for policies regarding use of State vehicles.

06. If I am called out during my normal days off to travel to the work location, can that commuting activity be reimbursed through the mileage rate? Would it be considered a nontaxable trip if I drove a State vehicle?

No, any activity involving an employee driving from the employee's residence to the work location is considered commuting and the employee is not reimbursed for miles. Similarly, if a State vehicle is used, it would be a taxable fringe benefit whether the commute occurs during the normal work days or the regular days off.

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