California Department of Transportation
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Clark Paulsen, Division Chief

Commercial Air Travel

Reference: California Code of Regulations (CCR), Administration, Title 2, Sections 599.628 and 599.628.1, DGS Travel Bulletin 12-04, State Administrative Manual Sections 0740, 0741, 0748, 4117.1, and 4117.3 and Department of Human Resources (CalHR) PML 2005-021 and 2005-046, Department of General Services Management Memo 14-03.



Travelers must purchase the lowest cost airfare whenever possible as directed by the Department of General Services Management Memo 14-03.

Airline reservations must be purchased using the on-line booking system Concur, or directly with the state travel agency, CalTravelStore. Concur features an on-line electronically routed approval system.

The use of Concur is restricted to Caltrans employees who must travel on state business. Using the reservation system for personal travel is prohibited.


Travelers should first consider purchasing a non-refundable fare if the trip dates are fixed and there is a low probability of a change in plans.  Frequent travelers should always consider non-refundable fares when there is a high probability that the unused funds (credit) will be used for future travel within the expiration period.

Non-refundable airfare may be purchased through the Department's Travel Agency if the airfare is less than the DGS contracted refundable rate.

Cost savings factors to consider include:

  • Advance Purchase - Non-refundable fares are typically lower in price when reservations are made at least 14 days in advance.
  • Flexible Flight Window - Having a flexible schedule with earlier or later departure time can save significant amounts.
  • Routing Options - Consider taking flights that include stops as long as the layovers do not significantly impact business or delay travel times.
  • Alternate Airports - Significant savings can be achieved through the use of close proximity alternate airports.

Before requesting a non-refundable fare, the employee must understand all restrictions and penalties for flight changes and/or cancellations. Penalties incurred for flight changes or cancellations may be the responsibility of the employee if the circumstances do not represent a true business need and are not found to be in the best interest of the State.

  • In-State Travel: Travelers may purchase non-refundable airfare for Southwest Airlines (“Wanna Get Away” fare) as the carrier offers the most flexibility in changing non-refundable flight reservations.
  • Out-of-State Travel: Non-refundable airfare from any carrier is allowed if the fare is less costly than the out-of-state contracted airfare.

NOTE: Employee receiving airfare credits issued from a non-refundable airfare purchase must be input into the Concur Traveler account (Add a Credit) and used for business travel prior to the expiration date.


The Department of General Services (DGS) has contracted with various airlines for discounted airfare. These fares are available through the Department's Travel Agency for refundable in-state, out-of-state and international flights. Cost savings are achieved with these discounted fares, as they are fully refundable and for travel in either direction of the city pair. See the contract Airline rates within California, Out-of State, and International for more information. Note: Prices indicated reflect a one-way fare.

Discounted refundable airfare is available as follows:

  • YCAL Contract Airfare: Unrestricted airfare with last seat availability.
  • Capacity Controlled Contract Airfare: Capacity controlled as a limited number of seats have been specifically set aside at these rates. These fares are less expensive than YCAL fares and should be used when seats are available. The fares can be upgraded to YCAL when necessary.
  • Southwest Airlines: The “Anytime” fare is fully refundable. If an employee must cancel the airline ticket, choose “Request a Refund of the refundable balance”.

DGS contracted airfare rates may only be used for state business and are not extended to employees for personal travel.


In rare cases, a travel expense claim submitted for reimbursement of airfare may be allowed. The TEC must include a copy of the itinerary and a receipt showing proof of payment. An explanation detailing why the airfare was not secured through the Department's travel agency must be included.

Airfare purchased by the employee may result in expenses that are not eligible for reimbursement. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cost of airfare that exceeds the state contracted rate.
  • Cost of non-refundable airfare and any associated fees due to cancellation or modification of the original airline reservation.
  • Third party vendor purchases (Expedia, Priceline, etc.).


Employees who are unable to lower the armrests (the definitive boundary between seats) should proactively book an additional seat if needed when making reservations. This will ensure the employee has access to safe and comfortable seating. The additional purchase will be refunded after travel, provided the flight doesn't oversell.

To request an additional seat, the employee will need to make two reservations, and the supervisor will need to approve both.


At the time of reservation, an employee traveling out-of-state is required to fax a copy of the approved "Request for Approval of Out-of-State Travel", Form FA0257, to the Travel Policy Section at. The approved form must have been assigned an official document (trip) number.

The Division of Resource and Innovation is responsible for administering the approval process for out-of-state travel. Employees with questions regarding the approval process should contact their own program's out-of-state travel coordinator.


Many airline carriers have a policy charging extra for baggage during the airport check-in process. The State’s policy is to only pay for the cost of the ticket and one bag per traveler. If a baggage fee is paid at the airport, the traveler must submit the receipt with their Travel Expense Claim (TEC) for reimbursement.

For travelers requesting reimbursement for more than one bag, a justification to the State Controller’s Office (SCO) must be attached to their TEC for review. The justification must state why the traveler is having to pay for extra luggage (such as computer, presentation handouts, tradeshow exhibits, etc.) for a documented business-related purpose, and can demonstrate that the additional cost is solely for the benefit of the State

The checked bag service fee is determined at time of check in. Therefore, travelers will have to pay the service fee at the ticket counter or at curbside check in. Submit a TEC as a business expense to the Travel Payment Section for reimbursement. A proof of payment/receipt and explanation for the additional cost must be attached to the TEC.

Agency Object Codes:

  1. In-State travel - use object code 008
  2. Out of State travel - use object code 108

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