The Academy/Association (AAOS) policy for AAOS-related travel for volunteers is outlined below. This policy is effective January 1,2020. 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 are strongly encouraged to use CorpTrav, 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 $600, CorpTrav 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, CorpTrav 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 $10 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.
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 (Internet Access)
- 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.
To be reimbursed for Internet connectivity, the traveler must utilize one of the following:
- The hotel's local Internet service provider to access the Internet at the hotel's stated per diem rate. It is the responsibility of the hotel guest to obtain this information and specifics regarding log-on and/or passwords upon check-in, or
- His/her own Internet service provider if that provider has a local access number or toll-free access for the area where the employee is traveling. It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that this option is a viable alternative prior to traveling.
- Most national Internet service providers (ISPs) have areas on their websites where local access or toll-free access numbers can be found. Please note that when using the service provider's toll-free access number in lieu of a local access number, a surcharge or per-minute charge is typically added to the subscriber's monthly bill. This will be the subscriber's responsibility to pay and is not reimbursable.
- Many national ISPs also have a customer service number to call for the local access number for a given travel destination. Small providers may not have a national access network. The traveler should contact his/her individual service provider for more details.
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.
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.