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NPR 9710.1
Effective Date: June 20, 2018
Expiration Date: June 20, 2024
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: General Travel Requirements (Updated with Change 2 June 28, 2021)

Responsible Office: Office of the Chief Financial Officer

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Chapter 8. Travel Under Special Circumstances

8.1 Travel Expenses Based on Disabilities or Special Needs

8.1.1 The FTR permits the payment of additional expenses deemed necessary by an Agency to accommodate an employee with a special need or disability. NASA employees may request authorization of such, including for other-than-coach class accommodations, provided that they meet the following requirements:

a. Certification. All requests for coach class upgrades or other-than-coach class require certification, and employees shall follow the procedures where medical documentation is necessary in accordance with NPR 3713.1. The following criteria are required for all certifications.

(1) A written statement by a competent medical authority stating that special accommodation is necessary. However, in the case of upgrades within coach class or for greater than compact class rental cars, a supervisor's written statement (e.g., by comments on the authorization) in lieu of that from a competent medical authority will suffice for special needs, in the limited case where it is also documented that (a) the reason for the special need is clearly visible and discernible (for example, weight, height or other physical characteristic) and (b) the need for the upgrade is objectively evident (for example, there is a reasonable need based on the traveler's safety, health or similar reason; an upgrade in view of the constrained size of standard seating hurting knees, back, etc. could suffice, but mere comfort would not).

(2) Include an approximate duration the special accommodation is necessary.

(3) Based on the disability or special need, include a recommendation as to the nature of the special recommendation and suitable class of transportation accommodations.

(a) Where the Agency determines the need for travel but without sufficient time for the traveler to obtain the certification on their own, and an interim or temporary accommodation is indicated, a NASA physician may provide both the required certification and recommendation.

b. NASA Physician Recommendation. 41 CFR §301.13 requires a determination on the least expensive class that meets the traveler's needs, based on review by a competent medical authority. As part of the NASA physician's review under NPR 3713.1 for requests relating to travel, they will provide a medical recommendation including:

(1) A written certification that meets the requirements of Section 8.1.1.a. above and, in conjunction with any other available medical documentation, provides sufficient support for the finding of a disability or special need that does not rise to the level of a disability.

(2) The duration of the accommodation, which may not exceed one year unless the disability or special need is a lifelong condition.

c. Approving officials shall follow the procedures of NPR 3713.1 in determining whether to grant or deny an accommodation, supported by the physician's recommendation. The supervisor's approval should include a determination of the least expensive class that will accommodate the needs together with any special requirements (e.g., double seating in coach class) necessary for the special accommodation. (Note that class alternatives typically include, in order from least to most expensive: (1) coach class; (2) coach class upgrade (e.g., coach plus); (3) business class; or (4) first class). Supervisors cannot grant an accommodation for travel that exceeds the least expensive class alternative or beyond the duration determined by the NASA physician. In no circumstance may supervisors approve an accommodation for other-than-coach class (i.e., premium) travel unless supported by the NASA Physician Recommendation in accordance with paragraph 8.1.1a.

d. The general requirement for approval of other-than-coach class travel by a Center Director or OIC is not required for accommodations duly approved pursuant to paragraph 8.1.1a.

8.1.2 An approving official shall provide the employee with an e-mail notification that an accommodation has been granted for other-than-coach (i.e., premium) travel, and also copy the Center's travel point-of-contact (i.e., the lead person designated at the Center for approving premium travel requests after supervisory approval of a travel order) and the Center Disability Program Manager. The approving official shall ensure that the e-mail notice contain a statement to the effect that: "An accommodation for traveler [name] has been granted by me, for [type - coach upgrade, business, on first] class travel, for [length - x month, or permanent] duration." This specific notice cannot include information regarding the specific medical condition requiring the upgrade. However, such medical documentation is required to be maintained in accordance with the provisions of NPR 3713.1 and kept separately from the traveler's authorization and not the CGE system.

8.1.3 When preparing a travel authorization that requests premium-class or coach-class upgrade based on an approved accommodation, the preparer is required to provide a brief explanation supporting the selected class of travel in the applicable comments field, to the effect "[Type - coach upgrade, business, on first] class travel has been approved; see e-mail from [Supervisor's name] dated [e-mail date]."

8.1.4 It is important that the supervisor ensure the accuracy of and adherence to the notice under this section and ensure that the traveler only submit travel authorization within the period and no greater than the class approved, as unauthorized premium travel is prohibited by law. See, e.g., Pub. L. 115-31, Div. B, Title V, Sec. 525.

8.1.5 A traveler may travel using a lesser class than the approved accommodation without additional justification (e.g., for reasons of availability, personal preference, or other); but is not authorized to travel using a higher class absent other appropriated justification under FTR §301-10.123.

8.2 Upgrade Approvals based on Mission Criteria

8.2.1 41 CFR 301-70.102 permits agencies to identify "mission criteria" that may be used to approve other-than-coach class travel. Approval of business class travel may be authorized for "mission criteria" if:

a. The travel is by an astronaut crewmember within 45 days of return to earth or as otherwise set forth in Johnson Space Center (JSC) memoranda for post-flight medical restrictions for astronaut crewmember travel.

b. The travel is by an astronaut assigned as prime or back-up expedition crewmember, traveling for required expeditionary training OCONUS or as otherwise set forth in JSC memoranda for astronauts training for long-duration flights.

8.2.2 OCFO's Director for Policy may also approve waiver requests finding a "mission criteria," on a case-by-case basis, for compelling reasons demonstrating urgency and unreasonable mission risk in the absence of the approved waiver.

8.3 Emergency Travel

8.3.1 When an employee is injured or has an illness while on TDY, an OIC, Center Director, or his/her designee may authorize or approve emergency travel and expenses in accordance with 41 CFR Part 301-30.

Note: An "alternate location" is a destination other than the employee's official station or the point of interruption where necessary medical services or a personal emergency situation exists. In the case of illness or injury of the employee, the nearest hospital or medical facility capable of treating the illness or injury is NOT considered to be an alternate location.

8.3.2 A Center Director, the Executive Director of Headquarters Operations, the Inspector General, or their designee may authorize or approve travel and expenses for a law enforcement or investigative employee and his/her immediate family in accordance with 41 CFR Part 301-31.

8.4 Remote Work

NASA will pay for travel expenses of remote workers who are required to travel back and forth to the regular worksite in accordance with this NPR. An employee on a remote work agreement in accordance with NPR 3600.2, NASA Telework Program, whose official duty station has changed via an SF-50 action, are entitled to travel expenses when required to report to their reporting Center to perform official duties, if their official duty station is outside of the 50 mile commuting area from their report Center.

| TOC | ChangeHistory | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | Chapter4 | Chapter5 | Chapter6 | Chapter7 | Chapter8 | Chapter9 | Chapter10 | AppendixA | ALL |
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