Air Transportation

Airline Ticket

The College will reimburse the cost of airplane tickets in coach class only.  All efforts should be made to obtain the lowest, coach fare available.  This usually requires booking 14 to 30 days in advance and a non-refundable ticket.  In the event a non-refundable ticket has to be canceled, the airlines will charge a fee and issue a credit that has to be used by that employee within the year.  Penalties can be quite high.  The benefit of locking into a fare should be weighed against the risk of having to make changes in travel plans before purchasing a ticket.  If a penalty is incurred due to cancellation, the Department Head must approve reimbursement/payment of that amount.  Also, now that most airlines have baggage fees please include the cost of bags when you compare one airline to another.

For electronic tickets, please request a receipt when obtaining boarding passes. When using a kiosk the machine will print one if requested.  If that is not possible, submit the web page printout or confirmation letter that is e-mailed to the employee AND the boarding pass for each leg of the trip.  For paper tickets, please provide the last page of the airline ticket (passenger receipt) as receipt for the trip.  It is important that documentation is submitted that shows the name of the person traveling, the destination and the cost of the ticket.

Please consider using Southwest Airlines whenever possible.  Southwest does not charge fees for extra baggage or flight changes.  Southwest is often cheaper because it flies into “sister airports” which are near a big city but not right in a big city.  Southwest has some very low fares online during certain times of the week. Also if you book on Southwest keep looking at the prices up until your trip.  Southwest allows you to rebook the ticket at a lower rate if they have a fare sale.  The difference is credited to your account with Southwest and would be available to use on your next business trip.  When you use Southwest you can get a boarding pass 24 hours in advance and you are assigned a spot in the line to board the plane.  Also, you can pay a nominal fee each way to check in early to improve your seat selection.

If you choose to sign up for a frequent flyer program the miles you earn belong to you.

Seat Upgrades

Williams College will fund an upgrade to Economy Plus seating on flights with a duration of more than 4 hours in the air, continuously.  For Staff, this must be approved by the Senior Staff officer in the unit, or in the case of Senior Staff, by the President’s Office.

First Class or Business Class Travel

In general it is the College’s policy that first class or business class travel is not authorized for College employee traveling on College business.  However, there may be circumstances when flying first or business class is appropriate.  Such circumstances may include the length of the trip or a temporary health condition.  In such cases first or business class travel for the President may be reimbursed provided it is approved by the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees (or another member of the Executive Committee if the Chair is unavailable).  For all other employees, first or business class travel must be approved by the Senior Staff member to whom that employee reports.

Any College employee, including the President, may use their personal “points”, “coupons”, or pay directly for upgrades to first or business class.  The College will not reimburse for such upgrades.


WiFi may be charged to the College when used to conduct College business.  WiFi will be funded to enhance the employee’s ability to work and attend to matters requiring their attention while traveling.


The College will fund a TSA Pre-Select designation for employees who travel 36 or more days per calendar year.  The TSA designation is intended to expedite the check in process for flights which will reduce stress for our employees and ensure that they are not delayed while traveling.

Global Entry Card

This will be funded only for employees who do extensive foreign travel.  Please contact the Controller for details.


Most airlines have instituted and strictly enforce new rules regarding the number, size and weight of bags allowed for each passenger.  Employees should be aware of these rules and make sure they are in compliance with the rules.  Extra baggage charges and charges incurred due to these increased regulations will be covered, however, extra baggage charges for personal items (i.e. golf clubs) will not be reimbursed by the College.

In the extremely rare event that a charter private plane is required to be used for any College related travel, the travel must be approved by the Vice President of Finance & Administration.

Travel Agents and Agent Fees

Williams College has signed with Egencia as the preferred online travel portal when booking airfare, hotel, rental cars and Amtrak train reservations.  Egencia allows you to earn reward points and get preferred pricing.  You are also able to book reservations for personal travel.

Williams College strongly encourages faculty and staff to use Egencia for all travel arrangements.  Egencia offers assistance when booking reservations.  Agent assistance is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Egencia agents are extremely helpful for those circumstances when the unexpected occurs: delays, cancellations or missed flights.

When using Egencia, there is no booking fee for hotel reservations. A booking fee of $8 is charged when booking a airline, train or rental car reservation.  If the airline reservation is booked with Southwest a fee of $12 is charged.   

When attending a conference or professional meeting, employees should check the group airfare rate negotiated by the event sponsor.  Often, these group rates are quite a bit lower than fares that can be obtained directly from the airlines.

Discounts are often available through AAA, AARP, MHEC, and other personal and professional organizations.  The College cannot pay for personal memberships but, if these discounts are available, the College encourages the employee to use them and appreciates the effort to minimize travel costs.

Frequent Flyer Miles

Employees may retain frequent flier miles earned while on College business, however, employees must always travel on the least expensive airline, not the airline with which they have a frequent flier relationship. Excess cost due to the use of an employee’s preferred airline will not be reimbursed. IRS Pub 463 says “If you were provided with a ticket or you are riding free as a result of a frequent traveler or similar program, your cost is zero.” If an employee uses a frequent flier ticket for business travel they cannot be reimbursed for it in any way.