Whenever a federal grantee or employee travels internationally, he or she must fly a U.S. flag carrier airline, such as United or Delta, even if taking a foreign airline would be cheaper or more convenient. There are a few limited exceptions, but the rule is otherwise pretty strict. It’s a silly, protectionist rule that must cost the federal government a lot of money each year in wasteful spending. It also leads to incredibly inconvenient travel schedules for federal travelers.
While my flight cost a pretty high sum (let’s just say I could get a business class seat for cheaper on a foreign airline), the schedule is not too bad, although I am flying a less direct route than I would have preferred. I am heading to PNH (Phnom Penh International Airport) via ICN (Seoul-Incheon) out of JFK. The only saving grace is that the Fly America Act allows for codeshare flights on foreign airlines. So, while my flight is booked through Delta, I’m actually writing this en route to Seoul onboard a Korean Air flight. Plus I get Delta Skymiles, so I guess it’s not that bad.
More on my flights later.