Frequent Flyer Miles Procedures
The Ohio Ethics Commission released Advisory Opinion no. 91-010, which prohibits university employees from gaining any personal benefit from funds expended by the university, including the personal use of frequent flyer miles earned while traveling on university business. The following is text from the opinion issued by the Ohio Ethics Commission:
In accordance with Ohio Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-010, public employees are prohibited from accepting, soliciting or using the authority or influence of their position to secure for personal travel, discounted or free "frequent flyer" airline tickets if they have obtained the tickets or benefits from the purchase of airline tickets for use on official university travel. Any rebates or commissions earned based on university business and paid to a university employee offered by any source, including but not limited to credit card issuers, must be remitted to the university.
Although this opinion specifically relates to frequent flyer programs and credit card kickbacks (e.g., Discover Card's 2% rebate), the law applies to all affinity/loyalty programs, and regardless of sources of funding. This is now a part of university policy as of September 1, 2006, but it has been law for some time. Violation is a criminal offense.
Traveline, Inc., the university's exclusive travel provider, has the capacity to collect, maintain, and track frequent flyer data, however a formal system has yet to be established with Traveline to do so. Until such a system is in place, in an effort to capture frequent flyer miles for the university, one of two methods may be used:
1) Traveler may change the address of his/her frequent flyer account to his/her department address, and the traveler and/or an employee so designated in the department may track the miles for that department's future use.
2) Traveler may set up a new frequent flyer account strictly for university or "business" travel, separate from a similar program for personal travel. Points accumulated in the business account would be redeemable by the department.
In either scenario, it is the traveler's responsibility to track and report the miles earned to his/her department for that department's future redemption. Travelers booking personal travel are not obligated to report miles earned from personal travel. Through its online booking tool, TravelPort, Traveline is aware of what frequent flyer numbers are used, as long as those numbers are provided by the traveler at the time of booking.
Any questions on these procedures may be directed to Larry McWilliams in Procurement at 330-672-9196, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.