In accordance with University travel policy requirements, travelers must arrange their travel at the least possible cost to meet the business purpose of their trip.
Penn State Travel Policy can be found at:
Purchasing Services supports Travel OnLion, an online booking tool and provides training, support and guidance for all University employees at all campuses wishing to use the online booking tool. Purchasing Services negotiates and administers travel-related contracts for employee’s use. Travelers are able to book online using Travel onLion, and may contact the Travel onLion staff for assistance in using the online tool. See Travel OnLion or Employee Reimbursement System.
Travelers also have the flexibility to use travel sources or airlines that support the University’s travel requirements and goals. Please note that tickets purchased externally are not accessible by Travel onLion staff for assistance with changes in scheduling, reissuance, or problem solving.
The flexibility provided to allow the procurement of travel through outside agencies or directly through the desired airline also comes with more accountability for the traveler to assure that:
All travelers who have a complete profile in the Employee Reimbursement System, ERS, have access to the Travel Arranger Credit Card as a method of payment when booking Airfare through Travel OnLion (www.ers.psu.edu). A complete profile is one that has each “Required” field filled in within ERS. Travelers who utilize the Travel Arranger Credit Card must sign their receipts and provide them to the Business Office Travel Coordinator with their reimbursement information. The airfare itinerary should be signed and returned to the Business Office within 3 business days of receipt of the ticketed itinerary.
It is sometimes possible to save airfare by scheduling an additional night’s stay in one’s travel itinerary. When compared to a normal schedule for the business purpose of the trip, if the documented savings in airfare offsets the increased cost of the trip to be incurred by the University, then the extended stay is acceptable. If the extended stay will not incur additional lodging, meal, or other expense to the University and the airfare is equal to or less than the normal schedule for business purposes, this is also acceptable.
Airfare is to be purchased at the lowest available commercial economy fare that meets the business purpose of the trip. When multiple coach fares exist, the lowest available commercial economy fare must be selected. The purchase of upgraded business or first-class airfare requires written approval from the University Libraries’ Budget Executive and the Corporate Controller in advance of the purchase.
If a traveler purchases airfare from a designated source and flies from a major airport, which results in incurring and claiming additional travel costs to reach that airport, comparison costs for flying from a closer airport are needed, unless the cost per person of the additional travel costs to reach the airport are $50 or less roundtrip.
Booking Airfare with Travel OnLion:
Use of Travel OnLion is NOT required, but is encouraged because air transportation through Travel OnLion meets the contractual obligation to provide the traveler with the lowest available airfare and is accepted by the governmental audit agency. When flights for business travel are booked with Travel OnLion, no comparison documentation is required, even if the travel is federally sponsored.
Booking Airfare with External Travel Sources:
University employees are permitted to purchase the lowest available commercial economy airfare from external sources, with documentation required as follows:
FEDERALLY FUNDED TRAVEL: If the airfare will be charged to federal or federal pass-through grants or contracts, comparison documentation showing that the fare obtained was reasonable is required. This documentation should be printed from Travel OnLion at the time of purchase.
NON-FEDERALLY FUNDED TRAVEL: If the cost of the airfare is $1,000 or less, no comparison documentation is required, unless business and personal travel are being combined. For airfare costing more than $1,000 per trip, travelers should print comparison airfares from Travel OnLion at the time of purchase to provide documentation that the purchase price is reasonable.
Final determination if the cost of a flight is reasonable and can be appropriately charged to restricted or general funds lies with the Financial Officer. You are strongly encouraged to print and retain your flight research in the event questions concerning reasonableness arise during the reimbursement process.
The PSU Travel Coordinator Credit Card is available for use for airfare if you are booking a flight via Travel OnLion or Centre for Travel. Once the ticketed airfare is received by the traveler, it must be signed and forwarded to the Travel Coordinator in the Business Office within 3 business days.
Changes to travel often result in additional fees (i.e. change and standby fees). When a traveler incurs this type of additional costs, a valid business reason and a receipt must be provided as substantiation for the charges. Fees incurred for personal reasons will NOT be reimbursed.
If a nonrefundable ticket (issued by United Airlines, Delta, and Northwest Airlines) must be cancelled or changed, the traveler will have a full year from the ticket's original issue date to travel on the credit without losing the value of the ticket. If a nonrefundable ticket (issued by US Airways) must be cancelled or changed, the rebooking and reissue of the ticket must be completed prior to the original date and time of departure of the original ticket. If the trip is not rebooked and ticketed prior to that time, the nonrefundable ticket has no value for future travel. It is the expectation of the University Libraries that such credits will be used for future travel.
Luggage Charges: The University Libraries will not reimburse for additional luggage charges (second checked bag or overweight) unless there is a reasonable business explanation for the charge. Receipts are required for reimbursement of baggage handling fees.
Other Fees: The University will reimburse any fees charged by the airlines which can be substantiated as business-related. Charges for food and beverage services are NOT reimbursable as those charges would be covered by the per diem meal allowance. Fees for aisle or window seats that cannot be reserved until 24 hours prior or upgrade fees at the time of departure are NOT reimbursable unless there is strong substantiation for these fees.
The University will reimburse the cost of train fare and receipts are required. Should a sleeper car be requested, the University Libraries’ Budget Executive must provide approval, since the sleeper car is considered an upgrade in travel accommodations.
Use of local transportation, such as subways, metros and buses, is often economical, but receipts are not generally available given the use of electronic cards, tokens, and debit cards. Receipts are not required for use of local transportation, and the expense is not to be considered as a miscellaneous expense.
Taxi and Shuttles:
Taxis and shuttles used for business purposes are eligible for reimbursement, and receipts are generally available. If receipts are not provided, then the expense must be itemized as miscellaneous and subject to the $5 per day provision.
Any vehicle used for University business may only be driven by a University employee, regardless if the vehicle is owned by a University department, University Fleet Services, a commercial car rental agency, or an individual. All drivers must be 21 years or older and hold a valid driver’s license issued by a state of the United States or by a province of Canada.
University car arrangements are made by the University Libraries’ Business Office. University cars are only for official University business and cannot be used for personal use such as sightseeing, shopping, family visits, etc. University vehicles are not to be parked at an employee’s home overnight. Exceptions may be granted if the vehicle wil be used for an early departure (prior to 7:00 am) or a late return (after 7:00 pm) and/or the individual would reduce driving time to or from the final destination by taking the vehicle home the evening before or returning it the next day.
An employee driver requesting a 15-passenger van from Fleet Services must be at least 25 years of age and have successfully completed a Web-based training and testing module on van operation at http://www.alertdriving.com/pennstatephp.
Rental Vehicles – Not through Fleet Services:
Rental vehicles may be used when the overall cost of the rental is less than the cost of other reasonably convenient means of transportation, such as taxi or airport shuttle, or when there is no other means of transportation. The University has negotiated a sole source contract for rental vehicles with National Car Rental. If National Car Rental is not available at the traveler’s destination, then the University has negotiated a supplemental contract with Enterprise for locations where National is not available. If National or Enterprise is not available, the traveler must select from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, or Thrifty and must provide a written explanation of why the alternative rental car agency was used.
All employees contracting with a rental car agency other than National Car Rental outside the continental U.S. MUST purchase the Collision Damage Waiver and supplemental liability insurance.
Use of personal vehicles is reimbursed on an actual mileage basis for the business portion of the trip. Reasonable mileage must be calculated for the most direct route plus the required business travel while at the business site. When flying is the economical choice but one chooses to drive and the round trip mileage is 750 miles or more, the reimbursement may not exceed the lowest available air transport for the same points of origin and destination. The traveler must provide appropriate price quotes from either Travel OnLion or an acceptable travel agency, obtained at the time of the decision to drive vs fly, to document the appropriate airfare for comparison.
When travel by car or train rather than flying extends the length of travel, one night’s lodging and one day of per diem equivalent to a reasonable travel day, may be reimbursed for the trip in each direction.
Although not required, employees should consider using University authorized travel agents for hotel reservations and other travel plans. These agents are familiar with special discounts that might apply, and will supply employees with a detailed reservation form of all travel arrangements.
Exceptions to policy will require written approval from the University Libraries’ Budget Executive and the Corporate Controller’s office.
Cash advances are an extra expense to the University and are not available at the University Libraries. Please contact the University Libraries Business Office to discuss financial concerns when traveling.
The Office of the Corporate Controller has the sole authority to grant exceptions to exceed the limits of this policy, and only after such a need has been reviewed by the Budget Administrator and Financial Officer. Travelers may request an exception using the Request for Exception form (available at https://guru.psu.edu/forms/RequestforTravelException.pdf).
Other Policies/Guidelines in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:
UL-TR01 – Types of Libraries Travel
Guideline UL-TRG01 – Requests for Travel
Guideline UL-TRG04 – Reimbursable Costs
Guideline UL-TRG05 – Employee Travel Reimbursement Form
Guideline UL-TRG06 – Responsibilities of Travel Roles
Guideline UL-TRG07 – Libraries-Supported Staff Travel Funds
Effective Date: December 2003
Date Approved: December 2003 (Dean)
Last Review Date: June 2014