Expensing a flight in your own plane.

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Salty, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    So, I’m about to take a job where I can work from anywhere, and it will require occasional travel to various corporate offices around the country.

    For most of these trips I’ll take commercial airlines, but on occasion, I’m going to want to fly myself. My new boss knows I own a plane and has already said “you can’t fly yourself”.

    Well, they can’t stop me from flying myself, but they can refuse to pay my expenses. And my boss is reacting only to possible liability, not based on a specific policy against it.

    I’m curious how others have dealt with this. I’m ok with paying for my own flights once in awhile, but if there’s a way to defer the costs, and keep the corporate lawyers happy, I’m all ears.

    I’m not even mentioning the private pilot implications because I know that will come up naturally. Lol
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  2. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Per the company I guess just expense their rate per mile per google maps, beyond that ask a CPA
     
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  3. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Frankly you can expense the auto mileage rate (as James331 said above) or expense the equivalent air fare (which is usually less). Depending on the accountant's rules, you may need receipts.

    All that said, you are disobeying a direct instruction. Are you willing to risk your job over insubordination? Because you asked you can't plead ignorance.

    I think, at this point, you need to either convince them to let you fly yourself (did you know that the GSA has reimbursement rates defined for private aircraft transport? Sometimes useful to persuade folks that it must be OK.) or accept their rules. Having a legal battle with your employer is probably not building a good relationship...
     
  4. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    The company assumes, and probably rightly so, that they have liability exposure if you fly on their business. I wouldn’t consider it without company blessing. I’ve had that blessing in the past.


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  5. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I didn’t ask actually. And again, I was told not to informally due to liability. They have no liability if I don’t tell them I’m doing it. If I travel on my own time and end up at the location it’s none of their business how I got there unless I expense it.
     
  6. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 Pattern Altitude

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    I would guess 99% of people that own and fly their plane for business, own the business.
    So, the only way is for you to open your own consulting company and be independent.


    Tom
     
  7. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Um, color me confused.

    That said, if you expense the equivalent auto mileage, it won't cover your costs but it's something. Air fare would likely require some sort of receipt. I don't think there's a way to get the to reimburse all your costs without making it clear what you're doing.

    John
     
  8. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I’ll repeat. My boss to be already knew I owned an airplane and would want to fly myself because we know each other from way back.

    He was just covering his ass. Lol
     
  9. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Why not expense as much as the cheapest reasonable commercial flight would have been?

    If Delta can get you there for $500 then why not expense that same amount to fly yourself? Make a screenshot if you want to cover your own rear end
     
  10. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Just to add, I would not screw him over if there was a formal policy about it.
     
  11. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Where I work, you'd have to have a receipt for that air line ticket. A screen shot of the cost wouldn't cut it.
     
  12. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    I can see your employer's fear of liability. We all know how the judicial system works "for" us in these situations. If you take a business trip, even on your own dime, and crash and burn your surviving relatives are going to have attorneys that happily try to blame anyone they can other than you. I'm not sure if there is an effective way for you to 100% release liability from him but if there isn't then I can completely understand his position. At the same time I understand your position of wanting to fly when you can. I obviously love aviation... but I would share the same concerns as your employer.

    Good luck finding an agreeable solution that doesn't put to the livelihood of your employer's business at a huge risk.
     
  13. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    This of course is the big variable, where you work at, etc

    I don't really understand why companies get all bent out of shape about this, if you crash your car on the way to work how is that different from crashing your your airplane on the way to work? if you get trashed at the company holiday party and get in a fatal DUI on the way home that seems to be a risk companies are happily willing to take

    for what it's worth there's no policy specifically against it where I work and I've been told that they will pay for the gas as long as it's reasonably comparable to an airfare ticket
     
  14. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    Companies carry umbrella policies to cover stuff like you driving. They may or may not be covered for private aviation... that’s the issue. They aren’t taking the risk the insurance is.


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  15. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    ^true, but then of course it's also convenient how you just happened to be in St Louis visiting an old college friend and you decided to take your own airplane. It was only pure coincidence that the company was also having a conference there, which you drove to from your friend's house
     
  16. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Exactly.
     
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  17. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Highly variable. There is a perception of risk that drives some of it. If you ask the insurance carriers, I'm pretty sure they'd say no because why would they take on any additional liability. (As Gorden Baxter said "No is the only answer they can give and still be a lawyer.") Our travel reimbursements are driven by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (the other FARs). The GSA has a milage reimbursement figure for personal aircraft.

    That said, cost is also a driver and frankly I can't imagine where private airplane travel would come anywhere close to airfare (usually cheapest) or personal car mileage.

    Opportunity cost is the only way to economically justify private air travel. And that's rarely reimbursed by anybody.
     
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  18. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    As long as you are solo and the flight is incidental to your work, you can be legally be fully reimbursed the full value of the direct flight expenses even as a PPL.

    Now to alleviate the CYA between you and your boss...turn in a standard mileage reimbursement form as if you drove and it is up to you how you got there and keeps the questions at bay and provides him a plausible deniability if he is concerned but willing to not stop you. Some firms will cap that reimbursement at the equivalent value of a commercial ticket. In my plane, milage reimbursement just about covers the fuel cost on a 250nm trip.
     
  19. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    It all depends on how you log it. Will you do any hood time en route?
     
  20. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    No, but I will install a treadmill and AOA if that helps.
     
  21. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    Done. I vote "Crank it and bank it!"
     
  22. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    That's what I did, a couple of decades ago.
     
  23. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My company has an explicit policy that you can't use private aircraft for business travel. If I used our personal car mileage reimbursement rate, I'd be reasonably whole for at least variable cost. I suspect that @gsengle nailed it with it being an exclusion in the company liability policy. The one other consideration is if something did happen, would the company have an out on life insurance? In my case, the company gives me pretty good life insurance, and it has a kicker if I die during business travel. I could see them using a PP accident as a way to wiggle out of it.

    The car mileage reimbursement seems like the best way to get some $ without drawing too much attention. I agree that a screenshot of an unpurchased airline ticket, would get a ton of attention from an expense auditor and in my case, would never get paid.
     
  24. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    The Government made me do a cost comparison of commercial flying, driving, or flying my own plane and then gave me the least amount. The GAO publishes a mileage rate for cars and for private planes. It seems the least expensive way to travel under 300 miles was to rent a car.
     
  25. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    These will be distances of 700 miles or more, if it matters.
     
  26. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    The university I worked for had no issues with my flying for business, and I did so many times. I was even informed that the university liability insurance had no issues covering me if traveling for business by private plane. However, they were very conflicted and confused about how to handle reimbursement. At various points in my career, they paid fuel+oil+tiedown, etc. costs, considered the GAO reimbursement rate or an average hourly operating expense (the latter was too cumbersome to document), reimbursed at the driving mileage rate, or the equivalent commercial airfare. I was just happy to fly and get some money back. Soooooo much better than driving 6-9 hours.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  27. PlasticCigar

    PlasticCigar Filing Flight Plan

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    I have done this in the past with a large national corporation and they agreed to pay me the mileage reimbursement if I flew myself. The forms just asked for the “miles traveled” and didn’t specify how these miles were traveled but I had written approval that this would be for flying my plane.

    If I remember correctly, it ALMOST covered the cost of AVGAS. It also made the trip about 3 hours shorter.
     
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  28. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Line Up and Wait

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    Had a similar discussion a while back... the way it was explained to me was that they (the employer) are responsible and liable for my safety and well being on any company required travel and there is no provision in their insurance policy that covers general aviation..

    My retort to them was... 'okay, I can drive the southern California freeways that are filled with idiots that could kill me at any time, but not fly to a local airport and Uber/taxi to the meeting.. not only saving time, but possibly some money too... " Nope Nadda, Zippo, Zich was the answer from our Corporate General Counsel.. actually it was phased a little stronger with one sentence noting... "continuance in such activity will lead to a career changing consequence.." My manager said I can't stop you from doing it, but if the "proverbial dung hits the fan" you're going to be out 'beep' of luck as the company has detailed the policy with me...

    Just last week we got a note on a new policy that states we are forbidden to use our own cars if we are planing to transport customer/client/contractor at any time and that we need to rent a car from their specified vendor as they have a corporate policy with them.

    Risk management geeeeezzzzzzz I am a a lot safer up there than on the 405 during rush hour. Oh well... I am done in two years anyway....
     
  29. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    So would a company that's says "no" fire you for this? Or just not pay your expenses and get an annoying email from HR? Honestly, I'm not even sure why people ask or the company has to know, why is it their right to have them tell you how you choose to travel? We already carry insurance policies that include injury, liability, etc.
     
  30. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    We all like to think our planes are safe as if not safer than driving, but historically the fatal accident rate per mile travelled is more similar to motorcycles, if I recall correctly....


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  31. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You might think that... But, while I used to travel fairly frequently via GA for work and they were OK with that, I always documented things so that I could justify it if necessary. I always compared my cost of flying with an airline ticket and car mileage at the standard IRS rate. Sometimes I traveled alone, but I often took a coworker, and I did take three coworkers once.

    Car mileage at the IRS rate usually covered my direct operating costs, if not a little more. Airline tickets were usually higher, and of course any time I took coworkers, we came out WAY ahead compared to airline tickets.

    Plus, we could sometimes complete missions that would be impossible any other way. 4 people Milwaukee to Kalamazoo for two client visits and return. Airlines would have been really expensive and required a lot of extra time for layovers, security, etc. and limited the amount of time we could spend there (or required four hotel rooms). Driving would involve a trip through Chicago and be over 4 hours each way, either limiting time with clients or requiring hotel rooms. Driving + the "fast" ferry across the lake actually wasn't really any better, and was surprisingly expensive as well. Tossing everyone in the Mooney, it was an easy hour trip each way, on site at the first client by 9 AM, stay long enough to take the second client to dinner, everyone's home in time for dinner, for a total cost of under $300.
     
  32. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    Is the legal liability often anything similar to tax liability? I guess I think of how my cpa explained “incidental” travel which essentially is myself and all my employees getting in their vehicle and coming to work, and going home, taking a lunch, etc. the company holds zero liability for that and no mileage can be paid for it.

    Now on the flip side if I ask an employee to go to Walmart to grab sole office supplies I am liable whether they drive their own vehicle or company owned. My business insurance policy covers that type of activity.

    I would see a 700 non trip for business as a non incidental trip. It’s part of the job but not the usual incidental travel where you don’t get reimbursed for mileage. The company’s insurance company will be the one to determine if you’re covered for that trip. They’d be on the hook I believe.
     
  33. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    I would think to raise even less suspicion, perhaps fuel up the plane to a "reasonable" amount. And use that for the fuel receipt. If I submitted a fuel receipt for $48 I know it won't raise any attention as I could be driving a 10mpg vehicle. But submitting a $225 fuel bill each way might.

    I have been wanting to do this too. But other coworkers know about it and want to ride along and don't understand the rules.

    My concern would be arriving late or getting stuck there an explaining that to them. And even if you paid the extra hotel how do you explain not being back to work on time. Same goes for needing a rental car, etc. Hard to claim a rental car when you are claiming mileage on your own car.
     
  34. Trevor3431

    Trevor3431 Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m in a similar situation but have an agreement with my company to reimburse me at the IRS rate which works out to be about 50% of the cost to operate an Archer so not too bad.
     
  35. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At my current firm, and at my past employers, flying myself was a "don't ask/don't tell" kind of proposal.

    I did what I chose, and submitted mileage as if I'd driven the trip in my personal car, along with the map support for miles claimed.

    However, a recent, positive, change at my current employer got an official self-flight policy in place, and I'm now on their master liability policy as one of few covered pilots. As a covered pilot, I'm reimbursed 2x the rate for automobile mileage, given simple point-to-point miles. So, not really 2x.

    I feel better about this, now. But I didn't really worry much when I was on don't ask/don't tell.
     
  36. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So might submitting a $48 fuel bill from Podunk Municipal Airport.
     
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  37. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    for those that expensed mileage as if you drove, did you do that for +1,000 mile trips? Seems like that wouldn’t pass the sniff test.
     
  38. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    I've seen that accident rate as well. I'm not disputing it as an average, but I wonder how that changes if we eliminate "stupid pilot tricks" such as running out of gas, low flight other than take-off or landing, unintentional VFR into IFR, and possibly controlled flight into terrain (more of an IFR issue, but hopefully improving with GPS). Does flying become as safe, or safer than driving? I feel an attitude of safety helps to eliminate a lot of risks.
     
  39. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    Sure it doesn’t have to be that dangerous. But I can vouch, having around 2k ga flight hours, that even for conscientious pilots, there is plenty of risk with light ga aircraft, weather, etc.

    And remember a lot of hours are VFR flight training and those hours are probably statistically safer than setting out cross country on a has to be flown on a schedule business trip. And I’ve done those in a fiki Mooney, instrument rated. It has its risks...


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  40. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    You make a good point- "has to be flown on a schedule business trip". I never flew any trip that had to be flown on a schedule via GA. Even cross-country flights, I've either changed the date and/or the destination and kept my schedule open both outgoing and return. My only reply to that is to book a ticket on Southwest as a back-up plan. I still maintain we can manage a lot of the risks ourselves, but it gets much more difficult to manage the risks if one feels they must make the flight.