The Academy/Association (AAOS) policy for AAOS-related travel for volunteers is outlined below. This policy is effective June 5, 2023. Travel guidelines for members of the Board of Directors and Council Chairs are outlined in a separate policy.
Please note that no member is eligible for reimbursement for travel to the Annual Meeting. This is the case even if a member is scheduled to attend a Council or Committee meeting during the course of the Annual Meeting.
The AAOS recognizes that volunteers give generously of their time and spend time away from their practices to participate in AAOS events. When this dedication on the part of members is added to the fact that more than 3,000 trips are made by AAOS volunteers annually, it becomes paramount that the AAOS travel policy be fair, consistent, and easily understandable. In addition, it must provide for prompt and accurate reimbursement of expenses incurred. Finally, it must fulfill certain obligations required by the Internal Revenue Service while adhering to principles of prudent management.
The purpose of this policy is as follows:
- To describe the domestic travel policy for volunteers (see separate policy for international travel)
- To describe the process for expense reimbursements as to ensure that personal monies spent on Academy affairs are in accordance with the guidelines, and all substantiating documentation is attached.
Right to Modify Policy
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reserves the right to modify this Domestic Volunteer Travel Policy at any time. Changes and modifications will be effective when approved and posted.
Domestic Volunteer Travel
Volunteer travelers must use Frosch, AAOS' official travel agent, to make their travel arrangements for AAOS business. In so doing, the airfare and agent fees are charged directly to AAOS but travelers retain any reward miles that may apply and have access to 24-hour travel assistance. In addition, AAOS receives complimentary air travel certificates in proportion to the number of tickets and/or the amount of airfare AAOS books. These certificates are then used for special, unbudgeted events or costly tickets. (No reward miles are earned when traveling on a certificate.) There may also be special airline discounts applied based on the volume of travel.
Round-trip travel should be booked on one airline whenever possible (the same airline going and returning). If a ticket for a volunteer exceeds $725, Frosch will contact AAOS staff to authorize issuing the ticket. Discounted non-refundable and non-transferable main cabin coach class tickets for scheduled meetings should be purchased at least 21 days prior to travel, as this will generally yield the lowest fare available. Non-refundable does not mean that the ticket can’t be changed. If a non-refundable ticket is cancelled, Frosch will receive credit for the cost of the ticket, to be applied to future travel for the same individual on the same airline. The airlines will apply a change fee.
The fee to book the ticket is $7 if the ticket is purchased online and $27 if acquired over the phone – i.e., agent-assisted booking. There is an additional $25 charge for agent-assisted booking if done after hours, between 7:00 pm-7:00 am. Other fees may apply depending on the circumstance.
AAOS will reimburse for the additional fees charged by the airlines for checked bags up to a two bag maximum. Overweight baggage fees will not be reimbursed. Flight changes will be reimbursed up to $200 per round trip. Travel or flight insurance will not be reimbursed.
Use of a private airplane is strongly discouraged due to liability issues as the Academy’s insurance will not cover the volunteer traveling aboard a private airplane on AAOS business.
Upgrade purchases are not reimbursable, including upgrades to Economy Plus, however, additional fees for aisle or window seats in coach are allowed.
Staff Liaisons for AAOS committees will complete a Travel Form for each meeting attendee to include the approver name, email, phone number, destination, travel dates, cost center and budget. Note: prior to completing this travel form, staff liaisons should have already confirmed and communicated the meeting date to their committee members. This Travel Form launches an automatic email to traveling volunteers to book their travel.
Meals and Beverages
Other Travel Expenses
AAOS will reimburse individuals for usual and customary miscellaneous expenses related to travel in conjunction with AAOS business. Allowable expenses in this category include:
- Wi-Fi usage on flights
- Internet usage based on hotel’s access charge and reasonable cost
- Hotel in-room movie or use of hotel fitness center
- Customary gratuities for baggage handling, etc.
- Ground transportation to and from airports
- Valet laundry service up to $50 when travel covers seven consecutive days.
Master accounts at hotels will only cover the room and tax. Any other incidental expenses are to be paid by the traveler and claimed on the expense voucher, if appropriate.
Personal expenses are not reimbursable. Examples include, but are not limited to, child care, pet care, entertainment, and toiletry purchases.
AAOS has negotiated special rates with Avis. Please use the following information when booking a rental:
Train fares may not exceed the cost of a commercial 21-day discounted coach airfare. Only coach train fares are reimbursed. Upgrade purchases are not reimbursable.
Add-on Personal Travel
Add-on or personal travel is defined as travel either before or after AAOS meetings that is scheduled by and at the sole discretion of the traveler. All expenses incurred with add-on travel are the responsibility of the traveler.
Once travel is confirmed, staff responsible for that travel will place the travel dates, traveler names, and emergency contacts via the Travel Form.
Submitting Expense Reports and Receipts
Original receipts are required for each travel expense item that is $25 or more, including taxi fares or car services, however, the traveler is encouraged to obtain receipts for all expenses. As required under IRS guidelines, receipts for meals should be detailed showing individual food or beverage items, and all attendees at the meal should be notated. Meals for attendees whose expenses would be covered by AAOS normally will be reimbursed; others will not. Hotel receipts should include detailed room folios.
Expense reports (with receipts documenting all costs of $25 or more) are due to be submitted through the member expense voucher form within 30 days of the completed travel. This ensures timely reimbursement and accurate record keeping. Reimbursement checks are typically issued within two weeks of receipt of vouchers.
Staff liaisons and course coordinators are responsible for reviewing, account coding, and approving expense reports for committee members and faculty. If the staff liaison or course coordinator feels an expense claimed by a member is excessive, it should be brought to the attention of their manager. If changes are made to the reimbursement request, it is the responsibility of the staff liaison or course coordinator to make the changes prior to approving the expense report and communicating those changes to the member. A copy of the letter or email sent to the member should be attached to the expense report.
For the purposes of this policy, flights to/from Canada, Hawaii and Alaska re not considered to be international flights and will be reimbursed under the Domestic Air Travel policy outlined above.
The AAOS staff member is responsible for determining if a location is appropriate for volunteer or staff travel. Volunteers or staff may decline to travel to a destination if they personally feel it is unsafe. When considering a travel location, all the following sources should be reviewed.
- Insurance coverage statement: Contact the Finance Department to determine if a travel destination is covered by our policy. Insurance coverage from the Academy stops when business travel stops. If personal travel is included in your trip, your flight home resumes business travel.
- State Department Travel Alerts and warnings: Security information issued by the U.S. government. Alerts apply to short-term situations; warnings apply to long-term situations. Some alerts and warnings are to make the traveler aware of risks. Others recommend reconsidering or avoiding travel.
- If there are no warnings or alerts for a specific location, travel can move forward.
- If there is a warning that advises individuals to “reconsider travel’ or “do not travel” to a specific location, then travel cannot take place without approval from the Department Director.
- If city/state specific ratings are available for any of these sources, localized information should be used in lieu of country-wide assessments.
As world situations rapidly change, this information should be monitored on an ongoing basis, up to and including the date of departure. It is the traveler’s responsibility to report changes to location risk level to the Department Director to determine if travel plans must be modified.
Safety and Security
Passports and Visas
As soon as travel is confirmed, all travelers should verify that their passport is current with:
- at least six-month validity after their anticipated date of return to the U.S.
- three blank visa pages.
If travelers require a business visa, more passport pages, or a passport renewal they should contact CIBT Visas for assistance in the process.
Travelers are encouraged to review the CDC requirements for the country of travel as soon as the trip is confirmed.
At a minimum, travelers must sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), review the State Department Country profile, and check iJet security information, available through our insurance provider.
Emergencies While Traveling
The AAOS provides volunteers and staff with medical and life insurance that covers them while they travel on AAOS business (ACE). Travelers should print out and carry the AAOS international insurance policy/card information International Travel Policy in case it may be necessary for them to seek treatment.
Staff emergency contact information is on file with Human Resources. Staff are required to confirm the accuracy of this information prior to traveling.
Should there be an emergency while traveling, the traveler should contact:
- ACE Assistance Center & their Manager
- If manager is unavailable, the Department Director
- If the director is unavailable, HR department
Managers are to escalate situations appropriately through the chain of command. Managers are to inform their department director, HR department, meetings coordinator and Controller.
Staff International Travel Notification Form
Combining Business and Personal Travel
- Required or recommended Immunizations and related office visits
- Phone expenses (travelers must set up international plan prior to travel)
- Passport and visa expenses related to international business travel. AAOS will reimburse for expedited processing only if the decision to travel was made after the deadline for normal processing.
- AAOS will not reimburse companion travel expenses or meals taken in lieu of officially offered events.