Fly America Act and Open Skies Agreement

Image: Airplane in the sky


Fly America Act (FAR 52.247-63 in DOE-SLAC contract)

Generally, if a traveler is traveling on funds provided by the federal government, he/she must use a U.S. flag air carrier. View U.S. Flag Air Carriers and Code Share Alliances. If there is no U.S. carrier to your destination, you must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. By law, lower cost or personal convenience are not acceptable criteria for justifying the non availability of a U.S. flag carrier. Please note that the same rules apply to a foreign visitor's flights.


Flight Numbers and Code Shares   

Travelers must ensure that all flights, where possible, are scheduled on:

  • U.S. flag carriers; or
  • Foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier. 

 Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines “code” the same flight as if it was their own. In other words, a U.S. airline may sell a seat on the plane of a foreign air carrier; this seat is considered the same as one on a plane operated by a U.S. flag carrier. Compliance with the Fly America Act is satisfied when the U.S. flag air carrier's designator code is present in the area next to the flight numbers on the airline ticket, boarding pass, or on the documentation for an electronic ticket (passenger receipt).


Flight Itinerary Examples 


Exceptions to the Fly America Act

There are strictly limited circumstances in which an exception to the Fly America Act may apply and the use of a foreign carrier is allowable. For example:

  • Airfare is not funded by U.S. federal funds
  • Open skies agreement (see below)
  • Other exceptions as listed in the FAA Waiver Checklist


Open Skies Agreement

The biggest exception to the Fly America Act is the Open Skies Agreement. On October 6, 2010, the United States and European Union (EU) “Open Skies” Air Transport Agreement was published by the U.S. General Services Administration providing full explanation of the multilateral agreement in place so that qualifying travelers, whose travel is supported by federal funds, may travel on European Union airlines as well as U.S. Flag Air Carriers. There are also Open Skies agreement with Australia, Switzerland and Japan. The DOE authorized SLAC to use the Open Skies in Oct, 2011.

Please note: A Swiss carrier (i.e. Swiss Airlines) can only be used if the trip is directly to Switzerland. A Swiss carrier cannot be used if the final destination is not Switzerland. Trips to Australia and Japan also follow similar guidelines (see below). Switzerland, Australia and Japan require a second condition that there must be no city-pair contract flight between the two points (see below). 


1. European Union + Norway & Iceland 2. Switzerland 3. Australia 4. Japan
Travelers can use an EU airline when traveling to a destination serviced by a EU airline. Travelers can use a Swiss airline only if travel is between a point in the U.S. and Switzerland;


between any two points outside the US.
Travelers can use an Australian airline only if travel is between a point in the U.S. and Australia;


between any two points outside the US.
Travelers can use a Japanese airline only if travel is between a point in the U.S. and Japan;


between any two points outside the US.
Does not matter if a city-pair contract flight exists (EU contract only). There must be no city-pair contract flight between the two points.

SLAC travelers cannot use city-pair contracts. Even so, the no-city-pair rule still applies for agreements 2-4.

Find out if your route has a city-pair contract.
If the above criterias are met, your itinerary may meet the open skies exception. Please fill in the Fly America Act waiver checklist and submit it with your expense report.

Email the Travel Office before you book your flight, if you are unsure that the itinerary qualifies as an Open Skies exception.


1. European Union Airlines 2. Swiss Airlines 3. Australian Airlines 4. Japanese Airlines
  • Air Berlin
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • British Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Iberia
  • KLM
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • SAS
  • TAP Portugal
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Other European Based Airlines
  • Swiss International
  • Qantus Airlines
  • Virgin Australia
  • Japan Airlines
  • All Nippon Airways

Authorized routes and examples:

  • EU to US (e.g. Frankfurt to SFO)
  • US-EU (SFO-Paris)
  • EU-US-FC (Dublin-NYC-Vancouver)
  • FC-US-EU (Mexico City-NYC-Madrid)
  • US-FC-EU (Cleveland-Montreal- Barcelona)
  • EU-FC-US (Vienna-Toronto-Denver)
  • FC-EU-US (Istanbul-Amsterdam-Memphis)
  • US-EU-FC (Orlando-London-Moscow)
  • FC-EU-FC (Moscow-Paris-Montreal)
  • US-ECAA (Washington DC-Sarajevo)
  • ECAA-US (Belgrade-Washington DC)


  • EU - EU members, Iceland and Norway
  • US - United States
  • FC - Foreign Country (non-US/EU)
  • ECAA - European Common Aviation Area

Authorized routes:

Switzerland to US

US to Switzerland


No city-pair exists


(SFO to Geneva)

(SFO to Zurich)

Authorized routes:

Australia to US

US to Australia


No city-pair exists


(SFO to Adelaide)

(SFO to Brisbane)

Note: A city-pair agreement exists for SFO-Sydney therefore an Australian airline cannot be used for this route under the Open Skies Agreement.

Authorized routes:

Japan to US

US to Japan


No city-pair exists


(SFO to Hiroshima)

Note: City-pair agreements exist for SFO-Tokyo, SFO-Nagoya, SFO-Osaka and SFO-Okinawa; therefore a Japanese airliine cannot be used for these routes under the Open Skies Agreement.

Flight Itinerary Examples 

Guides and References


Foreign Air Carrier Checklist