Air Travel

Find the requirements and restrictions when booking air travel.

    Columbia Travelers can make domestic and international flight reservations in a variety of ways, including:

    Travel must be booked utilizing the Lowest Logical Fare (LLF) which is the least expensive non-refundable fare for non-stop travel on flight times that allow the traveler to achieve their business objective without prolonging the trip. 

    Negotiated discounts will be applied to tickets booked via Concur Travel and when booking via a Travel Counselor at WTI.

    All preferred airlines will be displayed on Concur Travel as “Preferred Airline for Columbia University.”

    Air travel booked through World Travel using the Columbia Air/Rail Central Pay method will be paid by the University.

    All travel booked through World Travel will be automatically registered with International SOS (ISOS), Columbia University’s 24/7 emergency assistance provider.  International SOS also partners with Zurich to provide health insurance for Columbia affiliates on official international Columbia-related Travel.

    All air or rail travel booked on Concur Travel or through World Travel using the Central Pay method will include Travel Accident Insurance provided by third-party providers of Bank of America.  Policy inclusions and exclusions can be found on the Description of Coverage provided for Bank of America.

    The following are the University's preferred airlines:

    • Delta Airlines and its partner airlines which include:
    1. KLM
    2. Air France
    3. Alitalia
    4. Virgin Atlantic
    • United Airlines and its partner airlines which include:
    1. Air Canada
    2. Austrian
    3. Brussels Airlines
    4. Lufthansa
    5. Eurowings
    6. Swiss
    7. All Nippon Airways
    • Turkish Airlines

    When booking flights in Concur Travel or over the phone with a World Travel, Inc. (WTI) Counselor, travelers can avail of various benefits through our partnerships with preferred airlines. These benefits include:

    • Fare discounts on most fare levels
    • Name Change offering for name changes on wholly unused nonrefundable tickets for a fee
    • Access to Preferred Seats, i.e. aisle, exit row or window near the front of the plane at no extra cost
    • Priority Boarding for SkyMiles® Members for early boarding


    Travelers are advised to book international travel through WTI’s Travel Counselors to ensure that visa and entry requirements are followed.

    All Columbia University affiliates traveling internationally on Columbia Travel have health insurance for emergent illness and injury while abroad. This insurance is provided at no cost to the traveler via Zurich and services and coordination of benefits are initiated by contacting International SOS (ISOS).

    Detailed information on Visa and entry requirements may be found on the VisaHQ for World Travel, Inc. site.

    Please note that Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and the Crimea region of Ukraine are subject to comprehensive U.S. government sanctions.

    Travel to, and activities within, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, or the Crimea region of Ukraine, including research and educational activities, may be prohibited without prior U.S. government authorization.

    It is important to consult with Columbia administrators if you plan to travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, or the Crimea region of Ukraine to confirm that the planned activities are authorized by U.S. regulations.

    For research-related travel, please contact the Office of Research Compliance & Training at [email protected]. For non-research related travel, please contact Global Travel.

    Anyone planning to travel internationally using a Federally sponsored funds is responsible for knowing and adhering to the Fly America Act. Visit Travel on Sponsored Funds for more information and resources.

    If you need to change an existing itinerary or cancel your ticket, please contact World Travel prior to departure.  In order to reuse non-refundable ticket funds, flight reservations must be cancelled prior to the flights scheduled departure to avoid forfeiture of the full ticket value.  

    For ticketed reservations that need to be changed within check-in windows or close to departure time, World Travel is able to assist with changes and reissuing of tickets for the new flights.  It is important to note, however, that travelers should not check-in for the new flight until they have received the updated itinerary from World Travel via email, which contains the new flight information. This is because airlines have recently implemented a penalty for check-ins made prior to ticket reissuance, which will be passed on to travelers.

    Unused non-refundable tickets that have been booked either via Concur Travel or via a World Travel, Inc. (WTI) counselor over the phone, will be displayed to the traveler in Concur Travel and available for reuse. Please contact WTI for assistance when using non-refundable ticket funds towards the purchase of a new flight itinerary. 

    An added benefit of our partnerships with some preferred airlines allow for name changes on wholly unused nonrefundable tickets for a nominal fee. If the traveler expects no opportunity to reuse non-refundable ticket funds towards the purchase of a new flight itinerary, the name change benefit allows for non-refundable funds to be used by anyone in the dept. when tickets are booked via Concur Travel or through World Travel.  Please contact a WTI Travel Counselor for more information on "Name Changes".


    Travelers are required to fulfill pre-departure travel requirements for travel to High and/or Extreme Travel Risk and Columbia Restricted Countries.  Itineraries to restricted countries must be approved by Global Travel before tickets are purchased.

    Still have questions?

    Routine travel questions may be emailed to World Travel, Inc.

    For all other questions, visit our Finance Service Center.