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2600 Public Transportation

Travel Policy June 2014

Public transportation includes the following modes of travel:

  •   Airplane

  •   Rental car

  •   Train

  •   Bus

  •   Subway

  •   Mass transit

  •   Shuttle

  •   Limousine

  •   Taxi

Travelers must determine and use the most economical mode of transportation. This includes the use of a personal car when it is more economical than public transportation. When traveling to an airport, travelers should compare the costs of driving and parking a personal car to round-trip taxi fares.

Receipts are required for all types of public transportation, with the exception of inner-city buses, taxis, shuttles, mass transit and limousines. An itemized entry of each claim showing destination, date, and amounts of each trip for rented or public transportation must be shown on the travel claim in the Record of Transportation and Duties Performed section. Reimbursement for a limousine must include a justification statement explaining why it was the most economical mode of transportation.

In eTravel, the same procedures apply. Receipts must be attached to the online Travel Claim, and any additional information or justification would be entered in the Comments field of the online Travel Claim.

2610 Contracted Travel Agency

Travel Policy May 2015

The Comptroller’s TPASS secured contracts with National Travel Systems and Short’s Travel Management to provide state travelers with reservation and ticketing services for airlines, rental cars, and hotels. DFPS does not use both state contracted travel agencies. If the traveler chooses to use a travel agency, he or she must use NTS. Travelers are not required to use the contracted travel agency as they can make their travel reservations on their own, but when they do use a travel agency, it must be an agency under contract with TPASS.

Under no circumstances can an authorized traveler use any other “travel agency” to schedule and coordinate travel reservations.

There is a service fee for each transaction; therefore, the travel agency should only be used when coordination of airline, hotel, and rental car is needed.

The traveler sends an email to National Travel Systems for making business related airline, rental car, and hotel reservations on the DFPS Direct Bill Unit accounts using the contracted travel agency.

In the email the following information is required:

  •   Names of the individuals traveling

  •   If traveling with a child, the name and age of the child

  •   Email address and phone number of contact person

  •   Departure city, time, and date of departure or return

  •   Service being requested – airfare, rental car, hotel

For reservations (24/7), the traveler may:

  •   call 1-866-644-2375; or

  •   book online through NTS Travel Reservations.

For information about making reservations directly with state contracted vendors when coordination of airline, hotel, and rental car is not needed, see the following sections in this handbook:

  •   For hotels only, see 1910 Requirements for Use of State Contractors

  •   For airlines, see 2620 Airfare

  •   For rental cars, see 2630 Rental Cars

Authorized travelers are required to obtain appropriate approvals, which includes the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel if applicable, prior to making all reservations, and prior to travel. Remember to complete the TA process for each individual traveling.

2620 Airfare

Travel Policy May 2015

The state of Texas contracted airline fares are designed for last minute or fully-refundable travel requirements, or both. These city-pairs (a one-way airline flight between two cities, from origin to destination, regardless of stopovers or connections) provide maximum flexibility in traveling, as fares are not subject to restrictions or penalties on last minute, refundable tickets. However, this flexibility means the rates are not always at the lowest cost to the state.

Travelers should compare state of Texas fares to general published fares to obtain the lowest possible cost to the state. When possible, travelers should utilize 14-day advance fares for planned travel requirements. Fares in excess of the state of Texas contracted fares may be purchased by a traveler, but only the contracted rate will be reimbursed without an approved exception.

Reservations may be made by contacting the airline company directly or through DFPS’s designated travel agency, National Travel Systems (NTS). See 2610 Contracted Travel Agency for contact information and instructions.

The following are the state contracted airlines and telephone numbers:

American Airlines

1-800-433-7300 (A $25 fee is charged for ticketing reservations booked through their toll-free reservation centers; therefore it is generally less expensive to use NTS.)

JetBlue Airways

1-888-538-2583, prompt #3

Traveler or arranger is to identify themselves as representatives of the state of Texas.

Hours of operation: 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., MST; outside of this time ask to speak to Crew Support. Authorized travelers are required to obtain appropriate approvals, which includes the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel if applicable, before making all reservations, and before travel. The traveler must also complete the TA process for each individual traveling.

2621 Ticket for Required Extra Seat

Travel Policy June 2014

If purchasing a second seat is required by the airline to accommodate a traveler who cannot use a single seat without raising the arm rests, the cost of the extra ticket is reimbursable.

If the traveler uses the contracted travel agency, the agent books the flight and the extra seat as one reservation. The itinerary sent to the traveler will state the passenger name and “extra seat.” DFPS pays for the additional seat charge on the direct billing when the reservation is made with the contract travel vendor.

When booking direct without assistance from the contracted travel agency, the traveler must save the passenger receipt on the ticket, and the extra seat charge, and claim it on the travel reimbursement request. Various airlines may have different policies regarding reimbursement of the additional seat if the flight is not fully booked. The traveler should request documentation of the airline’s policy, and include a copy with the travel reimbursement request.

2622 Airline Baggage Fees

Travel Policy June 2014

If an authorized traveler uses an airline that charges baggage fees, DFPS reimburses the traveler for the first bag only. The exception to this reimbursement policy is for staff traveling away from the office for multiple consecutive weeks and do not return home over the weekend. Under this specific circumstance, DFPS reimburses for a second bag. In this instance, the traveler attaches the receipt to the travel claim. This reimbursement does not cover additional charges for excessive baggage weight (baggage over 50 lbs). Other than as noted in policy, the traveler is responsible for any additional baggage fee or cost.

Baggage used to transport state equipment or materials, and additional baggage for clients, is considered reimbursable. The traveler is responsible for choosing the most cost effective shipment method, considering all relevant factors such as timeliness of delivery. Therefore, the traveler should review all rates for UPS Ground Shipment or other methods of delivery before using an airline. The authorized traveler must document the purpose of the additional baggage fees in the Record of Transportation, and an explanation why the airline was the most cost effective shipment method. For example, if the additional baggage fee was for the transport of state equipment, the traveler must specify what equipment was transported. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

Luggage fees associated with state contracted airlines:

American Airlines - As of May 15, 2009, American Airlines no longer waives luggage fees for state employees. As of May 31, 2013 the first bag fee is $25.00, and the second bag is $35.00 (no discount for State of Texas travelers).

JetBlue Airways - JetBlue allows each customer to carry on one bag and check one bag weighing up to 50 pounds for free. The second bag is $40.00, up to 50 lbs.

2630 Rental Cars

Travel Policy May 2019

The traveler is responsible for choosing the most economical travel option available. The employee must consider all relevant factors, including the following:

  •  The number of people traveling.

  •  Equipment or luggage being transported.

  •  The number of miles to be traveled.

If the supervisor approves the Travel Authorization (TA) request, the authorized traveler can make car rental reservations one of two ways:

  •  Through the state’s designated travel agency.

  •  Make reservations using the Enterprise and Hertz links located on the Travel Resource page of the intranet or home page of eTravel.

See 2610 Contracted Travel Agency for contact information and instructions.

If a traveler is flying somewhere and then picking up a rental car, the traveler may have the travel agency book the rental car at the same time it books the airfare. If the traveler only needs to book a rental car, then it is cheaper to contact the contracted rental car companies directly because it avoids the travel agency fee.

The size, make, and model of the rental car should also be the most economical considering all relevant factors. The traveler may not rent a more expensive car based on personal preference alone. The traveler is responsible for any additional cost above the most economical means of transportation.

Example:

A traveler is transporting two clients. The DFPS standard vehicle size is “Intermediate/Standard” at a cost of $36.50 per day, which is adequate for three people. The traveler instead chooses a “Mid-Size” SUV from Enterprise at a rate of $56.00 per day. Based on the number of passengers and equipment being transported, the traveler is responsible for the difference of $19.50 per day plus tax and fees.

The traveler must reserve an appropriate size car in advance to make sure DFPS is using the most cost-efficient means of transportation.

Travelers are required to fill rental cars with gas before returning them.

The traveler must submit the itemized gas receipt with the travel claim on which the reimbursement is requested. Pre-paid gas receipts are not acceptable because that type of transaction does not allow for the required details of price per gallon and number of gallons purchased. Furthermore, pre-paid gas receipts allow for cash back and do not guarantee that the pre-paid amount was exclusively used on gasoline.

The rental must be booked at the state contract rate. If not, the rental will not be covered under the contract provisions or with the appropriate insurance coverage.

All reservations must be made online through the links provided on the home page of eTravel or on the Travel Resource page of the intranet. See specific details below for each contracted rental car agency.

Avis Rent-A-Car

Make reservations through National Travel Systems – NTS. See the Travel Resource page of the intranet or home page of eTravel for NTS contact information.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Make reservations through the Enterprise link located on the Travel Resource page of the intranet or home page of eTravel for the Enterprise link.

Hertz Rent-A-Car

Make reservations through the Hertz link located on the Travel Resource page of the intranet or home page of eTravel for the Hertz link.

The traveler must apply for pre-approval through the Authorization tab of eTravel. The Authorization must be in TA Completed status before a rental car is reserved, and before DFPS will pay the invoice or any fees associated with the reservation or cancellation of the rental car.

2631 Allowable Rental Car Expenses

Travel Policy May 2015

Reimbursable rental car expenses include:

  •   gasoline (authorized travelers are required to fill rental cars with gas before returning them to the rental car company, and the itemized receipt is required for reimbursement);

  •   toll charges;

  •   parking fees;

  •   sales tax on rental cars; and

  •   loss damage waiver (LDW) insurance; this is included in state-contracted rates and applies to state-contracted car rental vendors.

The traveler must complete the TA process in eTravel before reserving a rental car.

2632 Unallowable Rental Car Expenses

Travel Policy June 2014

Reimbursement does not include:

  •   liability insurance supplements;

  •   personal accident insurance or safe trip insurance;

  •   personal effects insurance;

  •   traffic tickets such as illegal parking, moving violation, and so on;

  •   pre-pay gasoline receipts (see 2630 Rental Cars);

  •   no personal vehicle mileage;

  •   GPS navigational equipment; and

  •   clean-up charge for smoking in the vehicle.

For the insurance that cannot be reimbursed, employees can get coverage at their own expense. The traveler must pay added insurance out-of-pocket and not apply it to the direct billing account.

The cost to replace lost keys or keys locked in rental vehicle are the responsibility of the renter with few exceptions.

2640 Other Public Transportation Modes

2641 Chartered or State-Owned Aircraft

Travel Policy June 2014

When employees travel in groups, it may be more cost effective to utilize a state-owned aircraft or to charter an aircraft. Employees may contact the Direct Bill Unit for instructions.

2642 Trains

Travel Policy May 2015

On rare occasions, a train may the most cost effective travel means when considering all relevant circumstances. The TA process in eTravel is required to request travel by train. The traveler provides sufficient justification in the Purpose and Justification of Trip section of the TA process in eTravel to demonstrate the cost effectiveness.

Train travel is reimbursed for the actual cost. Original receipts are required and must be attached to the travel claim.

Charges for economy sleeping accommodations while traveling by train are considered part of transportation costs. The reimbursement for lodging and meals amount is reduced by the cost of sleeping accommodations over and above the price of a regular ticket.

2650 Client Travel by Bus

Travel Policy May 2015

The DFPS Direct Bill Unit makes all bus reservations. The caseworker or other DFPS representative (requestor) must contact the Greyhound Lines, Inc. at 1-800-231-2222 for general schedule information. The schedule information will be needed by the Direct Bill Unit to make the reservation. Here are the steps to follow:

  •   The requestor must contact the Direct Bill Unit at 512-840-7986 to make the reservation.

  •   The Direct Bill Unit will email a reservation request form to the requestor.

  •   The requestor fills out the reservation request form, completes the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel with supervisor approval, and emails the form to the DFPS Direct Bill Support mailbox.

  •   The Direct Bill Unit will make the reservation with Greyhound and will fax the confirmation to the requestor. The confirmation page will have instructions for ticket pick-up.

2660 Changes or Cancellations to Travel Reservations

Travel Policy May 2015

Arranged By the State Contracted Travel Agency:

If the state contracted travel agency is used to procure travel arrangements, all changes or cancellations must be made through that contracted agency unless the trip is under way and it is more practical to contact the vendor directly.

Last-Minute Changes for an Earlier or Later Airline Flight:

National Travel Systems

Send reservation changes by email to National Travel Systems.

For reservations (24/7) call 1-866-644-2375.

The travel agency is required by the airlines to arrange the new flight at least 90 minutes before the new flight time.

The traveler contacts the state contracted travel agency to change or cancel reservations as soon as he or she becomes aware of a needed change or cancellation, so the agency will not incur unnecessary costs.

If the traveler is already at an airport, he or she must go to the designated airline counter to request any changes. The traveler may ask at the counter whether there is an additional charge for the change. If there is, the traveler must pay out of pocket, obtain a receipt reflecting the additional charge, and then be reimbursed on a travel claim by attaching the receipt to the claim

The Direct Bill Unit requires the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel for the travel that was changed or cancelled to pay the transaction charge that will be billed by the contracted travel agency. It should include the business related reason for the change or cancellation in the Purpose and Justification of Trip section.

Arranged By the Authorized Traveler Directly with the Vendor:

If the traveler makes reservations directly with the vendor (airline, hotel, or car rental), he or she is responsible for all changes or cancellations, which must be made in a timely manner according to the vendor’s deadlines. Charges billed to the authorized traveler due to late notification are not reimbursable without a documented business related reason.

Cancellation charges

A state agency may pay or reimburse a state employee for a cancellation charge if:

  •   the charge is incurred for a reason related to official state business or to official state business that could not be conducted because of a natural disaster or other natural occurrence; or

  •   the charge is:

  •   related to a transportation expense that was paid in advance to obtain lower rates; and

  •   incurred because the employee was unable to use the transportation because of an illness or a personal emergency.

Texas Government Code §660.015

A state agency may also pay or reimburse a state employee for a travel expense (which could include cancellation fees or exchange fees) incurred when the employee returns, before official state business is completed, from a duty point to the employee’s designated headquarters because of an illness or personal emergency.

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