Virginia Tech® home

Fly America Act and Federally-Sponsored Projects

The Fly America Act is a federal regulation that requires use of U.S. flag air carrier service (an airline owned by an American company) for travel funded by the federal government, regardless of the cost, convenience, or traveler’s personal preference.  

When scheduling international travel that is reimbursed from federal or federal flow-through awards, researchers must ensure that all flights are scheduled on U.S. flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier. OSP Procedure 40002 Fly America Act provides protocols regarding international travel on sponsored projects.

U.S. Flag Air Carriers

A U.S. flag air carrier is an air carrier that holds a certificate under 49 U.S.C. 41102 but does not include a foreign air carrier operating under a permit. For a flight to be in compliance with the Fly America Act, the code of a U.S. flag air carrier must be noted as part of the flight number on the airline ticket, boarding pass, or passenger receipt. Each airline has a two-letter alpha code (search for codes on the International Air Transport Association website). The U.S. Department of Transportation offers a complete list of U.S. air carriers.

Frequently flown U.S. flag carriers and their codes

  • AirTran Airways (FL)
  • Alaska Airlines (AS)
  • American Airlines (AA)
  • Continental Airlines (CO)
  • Delta Airlines (DL) 
  • Frontier Airlines (F9)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HA) 
  • JetBlue Airways (B6)
  • Midwest Express (YX)
  • Southwest Airlines (WN)
  • U S Airways (US)
  • Spirit Airlines (NK)
  • United Airlines (UA)

Code Sharing

Code share is an aviation business arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight. For travel from the U.S., U.S. carriers purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier.

To be compliant under the Fly America Act, the ticket, or the documentation of the ticket (also e-ticket) must be purchased with and identify the U.S. carrier's designator code and flight number rather than the foreign carrier.

Examples of Code-Sharing Tickets:

  • Compliant with Fly America: American Airlines (AA) 1234 operated by Qantas Airways (QF) 4321.
  • Not Compliant with Fly America: QF 4321 operated by AA 1234.
Image Examples


Compliant itinerary for American Airlines. Image credit:
Compliant example from American Airlines, operated by British Airways. Image credit:


Non-compliant example from Air France. Image credit:

More Information

For more information on the Fly America Act or if researchers have questions and want to ensure compliance while traveling to foreign destinations on federally-sponsored funds, visit the websites below. Researchers may also direct questions about international travel to OSP’s Financial Compliance and Integrity Team or the applicable grant management specialist, also known as a project administrator. Researchers can locate the name of the project administrator on the Award Management System.