This page describes the procedures a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) employee or dependent must use to obtain an upgrade for 'other than economy/coach' seating for 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.
Travelers are advised to review the policies and procedures before requesting travel accommodations as procedures and/or forms may change.
DoD policy governing funding of travel for civilian employees of the DoD is prescribed by the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), Ch. 2, par. 020206-K. The DoD policy is that: "'other than economy/coach' accommodations, due to a medical disability/special need, be used only when there is no alternative means to accommodate the traveler's condition (e.g., bulkhead, aisle seating, use of two adjoining coach seats, etc.). The condition must be certified by a medical authority and authorized by the 'other than economy' AO [Approving Official] in advance of travel." This requirement is in the JTR. "A certification validating the medical disability/special need is effective up to six months or the duration of the medical disability/special need, whichever is shorter. A medical disability/special need described as a lifelong condition requires a certification statement every two years from a physician."
The traveler must clearly articulate his or her medical disability/special need and the reasons why a travel upgrade is necessary to accommodate that need. For a lifelong condition, the employee or dependent must apply each time the employee or dependent travels on official orders as it requires approval by the AO. An approved request is only valid for that specific trip. Medical certification must extend through the anticipated travel end date.
"Although existing policy allows the use of 'Other Than Economy/coach' Transportation (i.e., Premium Class Travel) in certain circumstances, the Approving Official (AO) must certify that all decision factors and other alternatives were considered prior to recommending approval."
"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."
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 or as soon as the traveler determines that he/she is going to travel on official orders. The 16-week estimate is contingent on all required documentation being submitted from the outset.
"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 the travel may result in the traveler being financially liable for the cost in excess of the economy/coach class airfare." This cost is the difference between the 'other than economy/coach' accommodations or special economy/coach seating transportation used and the transportation class for which the traveler/dependent was eligible. The traveler must clearly explain the circumstances for the untimely submission providing background and justification. Inadequate planning does not constitute extenuating/emergency circumstances and will not be recommended for an exception. Travelers may opt to purchase an upgraded ticket for the type of travel request submitted, but there is a risk of the request being disapproved, and if disapproved, the traveler will be financially liable for the cost in excess of the economy/coach class airfare.
A traveler requesting the assistance of an attendant and traveling in 'other than economy/coach' accommodations or special economy seating must also comply with the procedures prescribed on this page.
A traveler must request approval for a travel upgrade due to medical disability/special need (and/or funded travel for an attendant) by submitting:
Additional information is available on the Steps (for requesting and approving a travel upgrade) and Frequently Asked Questions tabs.
If the traveler requires and attendant to accompany him or her on the travel, the traveler must formally request and attendant and identify that attendant by name and place of duty. The medical authority must also explain why an attendant is required if the traveler is incapable of traveling alone. The standard of "incapable of traveling alone" is a difficult one to meet and must be fully documented by the medical authority. 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. 020206-K states: "Authority to use upgraded accommodations is limited to the disabled or special needs traveler and their attendant, and does not permit the rest of the family to travel on a class of services than other than economy/coach. A medical authority must certify the traveler's medical condition or special need in writing."
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.
Note: Most travelers' conditions can be accommodated by airline-provided mobile carries, and flight attendants who have a duty under the provisions of 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.
The AO, who can approve 'other than economy/coach' accommodations and an attendant, if required, is the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD (P&R)). 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 traveler's physician certification will be evaluated by an independent medical professional, and based on the recommendation of approval, disapproval, or approval of a lesser accommodation on special economy seating, DoDEA HR will prepare a letter addressed to the AO recommending approval. DoDEA HR will notify the traveler if he/she is disapproved for any accommodation above a single economy seat.
The AO will notify DoDEA HR of approval or disapproval of the travel upgrade request. If the request is approved, DoDEA HR will request the travel processing facility, U.S. Army Civilian Human Resources Agency (CHRA), amend the travel orders to reflect approval and DoDEA HR will also inform the traveler of the AO's decision. With amended travel orders the HQ DoDEA Resource Management Division will enter the information in the Defense Travel System (DTS) and will procure a ticket for the traveler.
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 DoDEA HR. 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.