The current travel policy imposes that we can only buy the cheapest coach fare for business air travel. If we have discretionary accounts, we should be able to buy premium coach tickets (upgradable) or even business class tickets. A premium coach ticket allows us to upgrade with our own frequent flyer miles. Here is an example (real): I have a short 3-day business trip to Australia. I could fly business class, do my work, and come right back. Or, I can fly coach, and allow recovery time for 2 days each way. That’s 4 days of hotel + per diem of ~$1,200; plus work time lost. My premium coach fare would cost maybe $800 more than the minimum, and I use my own miles to fly business class. Our university rule is way too restrictive and costs the university more by imposing it. I have worked for 3 other universities (all state schools), and they all allowed business class travel and premium coach travel.
Thanks to Campaign for Common Sense Advisory Board member Jean Vock (Eller College) for noting through the comment section, "The travel policy does allow for exceptions: Policy 14.15, Paragraph 1 states: "Reimbursement will be for the most direct and economical means of transportation to and from the traveler's destination. Explain any exceptions in an attached memo." While travelers are expected to use the lowest available fares when traveling on university business, exceptions can be authorized. Our college has occasionally authorized exceptions; the exception must be requested and approved before the travel and exceptions are approved by the dean's office to demonstrate that an appropriate level of oversight was exercised. The few exception memos we have approved at our college establish a valid business benefit and that funds are available from a discretionary account to cover the cost. The exception is usually to allow business class on long duration flights, and the justification is that business class allows increased productivity and enables the overall travel to be of shorter duration and lower cost. These have been included with the travel expense reports and have been processed by the Travel Office."