'Other than Economy/Coach' Accommodations
Policies and Procedures
This page describes the procedures a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) employee or dependent must use to obtain an upgrade in his or her official travel to accommodate a medical disability/special need. Adherence to these procedures is required to obtain Department of Defense (DoD) funding for any travel that exceeds the cost of a standard single economy class seat. Thus, these procedures must be followed to obtain funding for an upgrade for 'other than economy/coach' accommodations, which includes any accommodation above economy/coach class (e.g., business class), or to fund the additional expense above a standard economy/coach class fare, referred to herein as "special economy seating" (e.g., to obtain, in economy/coach class, extra leg room, or additional adjoining seat(s)). These procedures also apply to request an attendant, if required.
DoD policy governing funding of travel for civilian employees of the DoD is prescribed by the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), Ch. 2: Official Travel, Part B: Travel Policy. The DoD policy is: "A traveler must use economy/coach class accommodations unless other accommodations are authorized/approved..." This means that the DoD must pay no more than the price for a single economy/coach class seat. A traveler may, however, request an exception to the policy to obtain a travel upgrade above the single economy/coach class seat in order to accommodate a medical disability/special need.
Processing time for this travel benefit is extensive and may take over 16 weeks; therefore, travelers must submit their request 5 months in advance of travel. The 16-week estimate is contingent on all required documentation being submitted from the outset. Medical certification must extend through the anticipated travel end date. A complete package includes:
Licensed Medical Practitioner's Statement,
Traveler's Request for Premium-Class Travel form, and
Completed Travel Orders.
It is the traveler's responsibility to ensure that the competent medical authority completes the Licensed Medical Practitioner's statement, answering all questions, and apply his/her medical stamp next to the signature block. In the absence of a medical stamp, a letterhead imprinted with the physician's name may be provided. Requests submitted without a medical stamp or letterhead will not be accepted. The traveler must provide travel quotes for coach and business class seating. Failure to submit a complete package from the onset, will cause a delay on a decision of approval/disapproval from the Authorizing/Approving Official (AO). The 16- week process will begin once the traveler has submitted all the required documentation. Additional information is available on the Steps (for requesting and approving a travel upgrade) and Frequently Asked Questions tabs. Travelers are advised to review the policies and procedures before requesting travel accommodations as procedures and/or forms may change.
In extenuating/emergency circumstances, requests must be submitted no later than 3 months prior to travel. The traveler must clearly explain the circumstances for the untimely submission providing background and justification. A recommendation will be made as to the need for an exception to policy on any request submitted earlier than 6 months from the date of travel. Inadequate planning does not constitute extenuating/emergency circumstances and will not be recommended for an exception.
The JTR states:
"Other than economy/coach' accommodations may be authorized/approved by the 'other than economy/coach' AO due to medical/special needs reasons only if a competent medical authority certifies that a disability/special need exists and, in the case of a medical need, the medical condition necessitates (for a specific time period or on a permanent basis) the accommodations upgrade. Competent medical authority must certify a disability/special need, in writing, every six months. If the disability/special need is a lifelong condition, a certification statement is required every two years."
"The 'other than economy/coach' AO must be able to determine that, at the time of travel, 'other than economy/coach' accommodations are/were necessary because the traveler is/was so disabled/limited by special needs that other lower cost economy accommodations (e.g., 'bulkhead' seating, or providing two economy seats) cannot/could not be used to meet the traveler's requirements."
While the above policy is intended to regulate travel expenses for 'other than economy/coach' accommodations, the Agency may not approve a request for 'other than economy/coach' accommodations unless it determines that other lower cost economy/coach class accommodations (basic accommodation service) is inappropriate. Accordingly, the procedures governing a traveler's request for 'other than economy/coach' accommodations may result in a grant of that request, a denial of that request, the grant of special economy seating, or a denial of any upgrade at all.
The traveler must prove his or her medical disability/special need and the reasons why a travel upgrade is necessary to accommodate that need. Travelers who obtain a class of seating above the basic single economy/coach class accommodation, without obtaining prior approval, will be personally financially responsible for all additional costs resulting from use of 'other than economy/coach' accommodations or special economy seating. Additional costs are the difference between the 'other than economy/coach' accommodations or special economy seating transportation used and the transportation class for which the traveler/dependent was eligible.
A traveler requesting the assistance of an attendant while traveling must also comply with the procedures prescribed on this page.
The traveler requesting a travel upgrade is responsible to ensure his/her medical practitioner who completes the Licensed Medical Practitioner's Statement: a) fully describes the traveler's medical disability/special need that the medical practitioner believes requires a travel accommodation, b) provides medical documentation to support that diagnosis, and c) explains why he or she recommends the particular travel accommodation. The Licensed Medical Practitioner's Statement must be written in English, preferably typed or legibly printed, imprinted with the physician's medical stamp (in the absence of a medical stamp, letterhead imprinted with the physician's name, practice and contact information may be provided), signed and dated within 6 months of the anticipated travel end date. If the stamp or letterhead is not provided, the form will be considered incomplete and will be returned to the submitting employee. Incomplete forms will result in delay of processing and approval decisions. Do not provide outdated medical documentation. If applicable, the medical certification should refer to generic drug names or U.S. brand names, not local country brand names. Diagnosis or procedures must be spelled out (no acronyms or initials will be accepted). The traveler must also complete and submit the Traveler's Request for Premium-Class Travel form. He or she must state on this form (and is advised to ensure that the Licensed Medical Practitioner's Statement supports), the unique reason why economy/coach class accommodations 'bulkhead' or aisle seating (which are available only by negotiation between the traveler and the airline at no extra cost), or special economy/coach seating (i.e., seats that afford additional leg room, and/or two adjoining economy/coach seats), cannot be used in lieu of the higher cost of 'other than economy/coach' accommodations.
The licensed medical practitioner and the requester must each sign and date their respective forms. The complete statements are official statements, and there are criminal and civil penalties for signing and submitting a false official statement.
The licensed medical practitioner must explain why an attendant is required, if the traveler is incapable of traveling alone and he/she is requesting an attendant. The standard of "incapable of traveling alone" is a difficult one to meet and must be fully documented by the licensed medical practitioner. If the traveler requires an attendant to accompany him or her on the travel, the traveler must formally request an attendant and identify that attendant by name and place of duty. The request is made on his/her Traveler's Request for Premium-Class Travel form. If an attendant is needed, the attendant may be authorized funding transportation in the same class of travel that is granted to the traveler, if the attendant's services are required en route. The JTR at par. 2110-J4 states: "An attendant authorized transportation under par. 7815 may be authorized/approved 'other than economy/coach' accommodations only when the attended traveler is authorized 'other than economy/coach' accommodations use and requires attendant services en route." The JTR at par. 2110-J5 also states: "Authority for a family member to use 'other than economy/coach' accommodations due to a disability or special need does not authorize the entire family to use 'other than economy/coach' accommodations. 'Other than economy/coach' authority is limited to the disabled traveler and attendant (if required)..."
If the travel is to take place during a school year or work year of the traveler or attendant, the traveler is advised to ensure that the designated attendant confers with his or her respective manager before the attendant request is made, to determine the availability of the attendant to travel on the dates required by the traveler in need. This is important because the name of the attendant will be shown on the approval document. Once an attendant is approved, the identity of the attendant may not be changed without reinitiating the request for an attendant.
U.S. Department of Transportation 14 CFR part 382, Nondiscrimination On The Basis Of Disability In Air Travel, to assist any passenger requiring special needs. Federal regulation requires the carrier (US and foreign carriers who use US airports) to assist persons with disabilities and facilitate access to every area that passengers without disabilities frequent such as moving around the terminal, to and from the gate, boarding and disembarking the aircraft, transporting them to the baggage claim area, to include rest room stops, etc. Assistance is also provided while on the carrier to include wheelchair access to handicap accessible lavatories. The airlines only request 24 hour advance notice that a person with special needs is traveling. It is the traveler's responsibility to contact the carrier.
Notes for submitting requests:
Travel fares to and from the home of record can be obtained by requesting quotes from the local Commercial Travel Office (CTO) in $ US. For travelers requesting an alternate travel destination, any cost in excess of the costs for the direct and uninterrupted travel to and from the home of record will be borne by the employee.
Requests must include: 1) Licensed Medical Practitioner's Statement, 2) Traveler's Request for Premium-Class Travel form, and 3) copy of completed travel orders. The Traveler's Request for Premium-Class Travel form must include travel quotes in $ US (to and from the home of record) for economy/coach class, "other than economy/coach' accommodations, and/or special economy seating (rounded to the nearest dollar); ticket issuing location (name and location of (Contracted) CTO (see attached). Travelers should request travel quotes from their local CTO.
The JTR at App H4A states: "A traveler who requests 'other than economy/coach' accommodations due to disability or other special need should request authorization well in advance of anticipated travel to ensure there is sufficient time to obtain required 'other than economy/coach' authorization prior to travel. If extenuating circumstances or emergency situations prevent advance authorization, the traveler must obtain written approval from the appropriate 'other than economy/coach' AO within 7 days of travel completion. Failure to receive the appropriate authorization/approval for 'other than economy/coach' transportation either before or after travel may result in the traveler being financially liable for costs in excess of the economy/coach-class airfare."
The AO, who can approve 'other than economy/coach' accommodations and an attendant, if required, is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Performing the Duties of the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The AO who can approve requests for special economy seating (e.g., two economy seats/and or additional leg room) and an attendant, if required is the DoDEA Director.
The AO will notify OI&IR of approval or disapproval of the travel upgrade request. If the request is approved, OI&IR will request that DLA, the travel processing facility, amend the travel orders to reflect approval and OI&IR will also inform the traveler of the AO's decision.
Temporary Duty (TDY) travelers must inform their funding authority that they are requesting 'other than economy/coach' accommodations or special economy seating prior to submitting their request to OI&IR. Travelers that are approved will be provided with a copy of the approval and the traveler will be responsible for providing a copy to their respective travel office for amendment of travel orders.