LICWO TDY and Circuitous Travel PCS – How to Take Leave and Add Extra Stops on Official Travel at No Additional Cost to You or the Government | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 29

14,542 grads of the Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course already know why
The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the cards that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Listen to The Military Money Manual Podcast on SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusicAudible, YouTube, or Stitcher.

Learn more about military travel hacking and how to make thousands of dollars off of annual fee waived credit cards in my Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course. “Leave in conjuction with official travel” or LICWO is a great deal to get a free or reduced cost flight to take leave when you go TDY or TAD. Circuitous travel is a good way to make a PCS a little less stressful and to potentially take a little vacation while you move on government orders.

Find out how to do both in this episode! Learn more in the LICWO and circuitous travel guide I published.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 29 Links

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 29 Transcript

[00:00:00] Spencer: Welcome to the Military Money Manual Podcast.

I'm Spencer, founder of and the author of the new book, The Military Money Manual, A Practical Guide to Financial Freedom. I'm here today with my co host, Jamie, for another great episode. Today we're covering leave in conjunction with official travel. or LICWO, and CIRCUITOUS TRAVEL for PCS.

[00:00:31] Jamie: That's right, Spencer. We'll teach you today how to take advantage of the benefits and the rules in the Joint Travel Regulations, or the JTR, to adjust your travel itinerary, flight options, and where you stop and route to a PCS or TDY location. And the best part of it is you get reimbursed for a lot of it, or All of your airfare to a location of your choosing on the way to your new duty station or TDY location.

Of course, be sure to check the JTR for the most current guidance. Everything we'll talk about today is current as of this recording in early 2022. And you can Google military circuitous travel. And even if you spell it wrong, don't worry. It'll help you out to find the latest guidance on the

[00:01:13] Spencer: Circuitous is a hard word to spell, but I'm getting a lot better with practice. So like we talked about, like we just mentioned, we're talking about two different topics today. So circuitous travel and LICWO. They're similar in that they allow you to take leave while you're doing official travel for the government and get reimbursed for it potentially if you do it right, but they are different.

So one of them is Circuitous travel. And that's when you take an indirect route to your new permanent duty station or PDS. Either to or from an OCONUS location. So when you PCS CONUS and you just, let's just say, usually I did one from Washington, New Jersey. We just packed up the car, had the movers pick up all our stuff, and then they gave us seven travel days, I think, to get across the country.

I ended up taking ten, and took three extra days of leave, and we went to Yellowstone, and, all over the Midwest, or the The American West and it was awesome. It was great. But when you're going to OCONUS, obviously you don't have the option of driving all the time. Cause there's two big oceans in the way.

So that's circuitous travel. Leaving a junction with official travel or LICWO, like we said, is when you take an indirect route and take leave on the way to or from a TDY location. So both allow you to get reimbursed up to what the government would have spent on normal flight options, and you can apply that towards your airfare for a trip to visit your family, friends, or just a sweet vacation, or if you just want to go somewhere else after for after your TDY or after your PCS. I've got a detailed article about both of the topics. Jamie said, if you Google “military circuitous travel” should be in the top three results or so.

I think US TRANSCOM is edging me out, but that's okay. It's an official source. But I, what I've tried to do on my website is just summarize from an air force perspective. So I talk about the AFIs or the Air Force Instructions and also the JTR, but the JTR is relevant to all branches. For your specific branch, if you're army or Navy you'll probably have to go find your instruction.

Sorry. I don't know which one it is, but I do know that this works from an air force perspective and because it talks about LICWO and circuitous travel in the JTR, it is applicable to all branches. So it might be a little bit harder for you to pull it off in your branch. But it is possible. So I encourage you to go look and you'll have a regulation somewhere that will help you.

Help explain how to do it. You might hear about some of these like finance or like PCS briefings, but a lot of times like the people who are talking about them haven't actually used them and haven't gone through the practical steps to actually get reimbursed for LICWO or for circuitous travel.

But we have, we can speak from real experience. Jamie, you just used. Just used it recently. And I think we'll get into that later. Yes. Later on the podcast. Great. Wherever you listen to the podcast, if there's a subscribe button or an alarm button, go ahead and hit that and you'll get notifications every time that we drop a new episode, which is usually on Mondays.

[00:04:52] Jamie: So lastly, we want to thank one of our top listeners, Luke. Hey Luke, appreciate your support and feedback. He and his wife are big time travel enthusiasts and said they're big fans of the show and all things, military travel hacking. He even makes his wife listen to some of the episodes with him.

So thank you for that. We apologize, but it's good to be on the same page and motivated about the same topics. He told me that he hacked a great deal for his round trip flights to Chicago for their anniversary trip. So we love hearing stories about your success Luke and everyone. Thank you for listening. Keep up the good work, my friend. 

All right. This topic today is huge because the government will pay you, like we said, to travel where you want and up to what the costs they would have paid if you had flown direct, sometimes it may even cover your whole airfare costs, depending on the city pair that you're trying to do.

This almost sounds too good to be true, but the regulation, the joint travel regulation, or JTR, like we said, 100%. It does take a little bit of extra work on your part, but it's worth it to get some free airfare in there. 

Spencer, do you have any good examples of using circuitous travel?

[00:05:57] Spencer: Yeah, I think my best example was when we were stationed out in the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates for two years, we PCS from the UAE to my current duty station in Hawaii.

And the cost of that ticket that the government estimated was. Over $2,000. And so what we were able to do is say we were able to take that value for both me and my wife. So it wasn't just $2,000, it was $4,000 of airfare. And we were able to book flights. Different from what the government wanted us to take the most direct route, what they consider the most direct route to to Hawaii, which went through Zurich and Atlanta and then the West Coast and then Hawaii, and it's all just, it's 32 hours straight of flying.

We thought that just sounded horrible. So rather than do that we. Booked our own flights and we ended up flying from Abu Dhabi to Zurich in business class. We were only reimbursed up to the economy, right? So that's important to remember there. Like I'm not billing the US cheating. Yeah, no, yep.

You're only authorized up to economy, but I was able to book an economy and then upgrade the flight with Amex points. And then on that trip as well we stayed in Switzerland Liechtenstein. We drove through, that was awesome. Austria, Italy. We stayed at a castle and we had a private dining experience, which we didn't know was going to be private.

We just showed up to the restaurant and yeah, at four o'clock. And I said, what time do you want to eat? And we said seven and we came back and they opened just for us. So that was pretty cool. Then we flew on, we drove up to Geneva. I got a speeding ticket and I'm actually still wanted in Switzerland for that.

No, I paid it a few, they found me. It took them like a year to find me, but that was an expensive speeding ticket. So don't speed in Switzerland, they have cameras everywhere. And then we went up to Edinburgh and we drove around Scotland for five days. Again, that was amazing. And we were able along the way we paid for so many of our hotels.

Most of our hotels, actually, we paid for just with points or a free night certificate. So we ended up staying at the Ritz Carlton Geneva, which is still one of our favorite all time hotels. With the wine tasting and the chocolate tasting experience when you checked in and that was, we just cashed in some Marriott points and it was like an $800 a night hotel that we were staying in for free.

And finally to wrap up the trip, we ended up in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, and we visited Banff national park and went, did some hiking up there for three days and then continued on to Hawaii. So it was a great trip. And again, All the airfare on that trip, or most of the airfare on that trip, was reimbursed because we used Circuitous Travel, and I was approved to book my own plane tickets, and so we were reimbursed up to $2,000 each.

[00:08:46] Jamie: Yeah, that's incredible. Oh, like a once in a lifetime opportunity here. And so now let's dive into the details so we can share how you can do this, if you PCS to or from OCONUS, how you can take advantage of Circuitous Travel. Taking circuitous travel in UPCS to or from an OCONUS base to a CONUS or OCONUS base is legal, like we said, and an awesome way to take some leave, vacation, or holiday while moving from point A to point B.

Basically allows you to take the scenic route along the way. The official definition is, Circuitous or indirect travel is any route CONUS to OCONUS other than one, the one normally prescribed by the installation transportation office between the official places listed in the members TDY or PCS orders and circuitous travel applies from CONUS, which is the contiguous United States or the lower 48 to OCONUS, which is basically everything else in the world except for the lower 48.

Or from OCONUS to Conus or OCONUS to OCONUS. So a lot jumbled up there, but basically if you have any PCS that involves OCONUS anywhere, then you're good to apply these techniques.

[00:09:50] Spencer: That's right. We all know how painful getting PCS orders can be, so let's break down a little bit of the administrative process.

It's gonna start once you get your travel orders. So you're going to want to make sure that, I think at least in the air force, they have to get you your PCS or they're mandated to get your PCS orders. Is it 45, 60 days before your PCS day, you really want to hold hold the military personnel MPF to that standard, because it's going to take you a little, you're going to want to have those orders in hand and you're going to, you're going to need to do a little bit more paperwork to get the LICWO process approved.

And then you're going to actually have to go book the plane tickets. And I've gotten in trouble before where I booked the plane tickets before I got the orders and then they won't reimburse you because you've booked the tickets before the orders are issued. It's the dumbest rule ever, like the ticket is the same, but if the date isn't after the date the orders were issued.

Then they're specifically not supposed to reimburse you. So that's tough, that's an expensive lesson learned. But thankfully now with the way airline tickets are going due to COVID a lot of times you can book a refundable fare and it's not that any more expensive than a regular fare.

And then once you get your tickets, your travel orders are issued, as long as the price hasn't changed, or maybe it's gone down. I've had a lot of times on Southwest where the price goes down and you actually get money back from canceling the ticket and rebooking it. So TMO is going to book your travel.

Based on your orders, they're going to find the lowest cost government fare tickets. They'll also look for rotators. So a lot of times Patriot express goes from Seattle to Kadena and Yakota and Osan air base. So if one of those is available, they're probably going to try to get you onto one of those.

So you're going to have to especially if you're going to any of those locations that are serviced by Patriot express, you're really going to want to finagle your order. So you don't have to fly on one of those. The tickets that they are gonna. So let's say for instance, when we were going to Abu Dhabi from a choir, there was no rotator available, right?

The rotator that's available is for active duty only like they're not expecting to PCS spouses to Abu Dhabi. So in that case, it was just looking for Airfare essentially on an American carrier on, on, Delta or United or American Airlines and seeing, okay, how can we get the person, either from Philly or from New York to Abu Dhabi and what they're going to look for usually the fully flexible Y class economy tickets. So you'll hear us talk about the different fare classes. So F is usually first class. Obviously J is business class and then or Juliet and then Y or Yankee is usually the fully flexible economy ticket. So the JTR says that you can get reimbursed for personally procured tickets, but it's limited to what the government would have paid.

How'd you book through the transportation management center or TMC over a usually traveled and direct route? So that allows you to pick a more favorable route, better layovers and things like that. If you get authorized to book your own tickets. So for instance, let's say you PCS from Fort Lewis, Washington to the Middle East, for example, the government option is going to be this horrible 28, four stops straight shot from Seattle to wherever you go in Dubai or Bahrain or whatever. So what you're gonna want to do is. Take or email your orders and a copy of a memorandum that you're going to need to generate. 

And I have a template on my website, but it's usually on page eight of your initial assignment briefing. If you do it through virtual MPF and I'm sure they're going to change this as soon as we record this, but it is in your, you, there is a memorandum template about circuitous travel and Jamie, did you see that recently when you guys PCS? Yes, for sure.

[00:13:41] Jamie: Just a quick reminder, though, if for the other services, they'll have some similar process. The template Spencer has on the article is going to be Air Force specific, but like we mentioned, it is in the JTR.

Each service will have their own slightly different procedures, but look those up or contact your TMO for specific details for your base or service, right?

[00:14:00] Spencer: You're going to, what you're going to try to do is get a memo from your transportation management office, or a lot of times it's commercially contracted for instance, here at Hickam Air Force base and in Hawaii, it's called Sado.

And they're just a company that provides travel services to the US government. And what they're going to do is they're going to give you a cost estimate. So they're going to say, okay, if we booked the ticket today for the dates that you want. It's going to cost the US government, we'll say a thousand dollars and they're going to email you that cost estimate and then that now, how much you have to spend.

So that's a great, that's a great start right there and where it can be painful though, is if you're on a route, let's say like you're going from Hawaii to Dallas, let's say. The government contracted fare for that route is probably like $200 or something like the airlines are not making a lot of money, but on the flip side, they do get guaranteed revenue from the government.

They're still making out just fine. They've been bailed out a few times during the COVID pandemic. So we're not shedding any tears here for the airlines, but they do provide a great service and moving us around the world. So we do appreciate that.

But sometimes you will see, depending on the route that you want to take the government, especially domestically, I've seen it where it's coast to coast, it might be like just a couple hundred dollars and you're like I can't really do much with this. Like as soon as I go and book one ticket, then I've used up my entire credit, but that's okay.

Cause at least that leg is free. Yeah, it's still better than nothing. It's still better than nothing. Yeah. So once you have the memorandum that says this is the cost that you're gonna have to take that and your travelers back to your MPF. So a little bit of bureaucracy running around here, but you're basically gonna take it back to your military personnel section.

And you're going to ask them to add an amendment to your orders. And that's going to say for instance, when I was going from Abu Dhabi to Hawaii, it said airman is authorized to self procure transoceanic transportation at personal expense and will be reimbursed for the transoceanic travel. So you have to get that kind of verbiage and it's probably the same for the Navy.

Or the Marines or the army, if you have to get some kind of verbiage on your orders, that says that you are authorized to self procure your transportation, your transoceanic transportation, and you'll be reimbursed for it. And then it usually adds like the reimbursement limit is, and it'll just include whatever number was on the TMO memorandum.

If you don't have that on your orders and you do this whole process, it's going to be such a pain in the butt to try to undo it and to try to get reimbursed because you're going to have to get an amendment to the amendment and you're going to have to from your old base, and no one's going to want to help you.

And you're going to be out, whatever you spend on these tickets, you're going to be out of pocket and it's going to be probably months until you're reimbursed. So make sure. Before you purchase the tickets that you have, it's going to be painful because you're going to be watching these tickets and you're going to be like, man, I really want to, I really want to book these.

But if you do it and you don't have that amendment on your orders, then it's going to be really painful to try to get reimbursed. The other nice thing about this too, is you don't have to use your government travel card. Because it says you're authorized to self procure the transportation. Especially if you're trying to meet a minimum spend on a credit card, or, you want to use your Amex Platinum card and get five X points.

This is a great way to, to get those points and then get reimbursed by the government. So once you have that verbiage on your orders though, then you are authorized to go ahead and purchase your tickets. You don't have to use your JTR and You don't have to use your GTC. You don't, I'm sorry. You don't have to use your GTC.

That's right. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Always use your JTR though. So after you've got this memorandum, one thing that I want to highlight is whatever itinerary you told them that you were going to fly, it has to be approved. On your orders and you have to stick to that itinerary when you book the ticket.

So this is really frustrating, especially for someone who knows how to book an airline. It's 2022. It's not the nineties anymore where you had to I don't know, you know how you booked airline tickets in the nineties. I'm sure you called or something, it's a lot easier now and people are a lot more tech savvy.

Especially if you're like a military travel hacker, like you could probably find a better deal than any travel agent or at least government travel agent. And so you have to stick to the itinerary that's on your orders. And so I've run into this problem before where, I'll be like, Oh, actually I want to fly into New York city and not Philly.

And so I'll just, I'll book the ticket. I won't even think about it. And then when I go to get reimbursed, they'll say oh, no, your approved itinerary said you were going through Philly and it's what does it matter? The dollar amount that the government is reimbursing me is not changing.

It's no different. So very frustrating as a functioning adult to have to explain all my. All my decisions to, to mother hen here. But yeah, that is a caveat that I will mention is that once you have an approved itinerary on your orders, you have to stick to that.

And if you don't, it's going to be really hard to get reimbursed.

[00:19:09] Jamie: And if you try to change it, you'll have to go through the order amendment process again, get another memo, then get another amendment to your orders. And again, this is all before you actually book your ticket. So it's a pain.

[00:19:20] Spencer: Good. It's just like I want to caveat right here too, that, everything we're saying, it sounds like it's super painful and not worth it. But at the end of the day, it really can be worth it. Like I was saying with that trip that we booked, that was essentially that was like a, I had to take leave to do it.

And obviously you're on the hook for your own hotel rooms. You're not getting per diem other than for your authorized travel. I think it was only authorized for two travel days, but when you're getting all these flights for free because the government's reimbursing you for them up to the limit that they would have paid anyways it's such a good deal.

It's maybe a couple hours of work for $4,000 worth of airfare. And I don't know what you make an hour, but it might be worth spending a hundred hours doing. Yes.

[00:20:05] Jamie: Good point. That's another thing I want to highlight. Spencer is the leave thing. When you add circuitous travel, it will cost you some leave days.

So for example, when I PCS from Hawaii to Alabama last year, my original orders had seven days of travel. Their plan was to fly my family of five, my wife and I, and three kids. Southern California, pick up a car and then drive to Alabama from there. I'm not doing that with my three kids and seven days in the car, six days or whatever.

But then authorizes seven travel days. Once we got the amendment approved for circuitous travel, it also amends the number of authorized travel days. And we just got one day. So the rest of our time is all chargeable leave, which is fine. A lot of people in the military have a hard time taking leave anyway.

So if you're having a hard time during PCS season is a great time to tack it onto your travel. Your old unit forgot about you and your new unit doesn't know you yet. So just pile it in there and no one will know any different. It's no big deal, totally worth it, but just wanted to make you aware that it will cost you a little bit of extra leave.

Let's pause here for a moment, Spencer here, and just hit on a couple important travel hacking benefits to keep in mind as well, while the listeners are going through this process. You already mentioned the minimum spend on a new card. PCS season is always a great time to open up a new card. If you're going to anyway, and you're paying your bills on time and not racking up any debt or anything like that, you can easily meet minimum spend and get top hotel benefits like we discussed in episode 18, where we talked about the best hotel cards for military families.

One thing I do want to caution though, is don't go personally procured route if you don't have the money saved up to cover the cost, you have an article about your PCS to Hawaii being a $20,000 PCS. My last one was closer to $10,000, but a PCS can easily be five, 10, or even $20,000 that you may be stuck with for a couple months waiting for finance to pay out your voucher.

So if you're behind on bills already, this may not be the game for you. So just a word of caution there.

[00:21:59] Spencer: Yeah, it's definitely that's a great word of warning there, Jamie, because if you don't have the cash saved up ahead of time before you get into this, you don't want to, you don't want to go into credit card debt over this.

It's just not worth it, but with it, once you get it, you realize okay, I've got a year out until my next assignment, start setting aside the money and start saving and you'll be amazed what you can do in a year. Yes. And the amount of money that you can set aside and then you're going to get that money back too.

So you really just want it there as a cushion until the government finally decides that you're worthy of reimbursement, after however many months that takes of jumping through hoops and submitting different paperwork and getting amendments and everything. But once that money comes back to you, now that's your money in your pocket.

And you can put that to work in, your Roth IRAs, or you can put into your taxable investment account, or maybe that's it's, you've depleted some of your emergency fund because of the PCS and you just want to shore up your cash reserves. So yeah, that's a really good warning there.

Another thing that I'll mention here too, is if you're looking for a new credit card to open before PCS season, I've got a course military Ultimate military credit Cards course, and you can take that. And I'll walk you through which, which cards you should open up and which order just, if you don't have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, if you don't have an Amex Platinum or an Amex Gold card, a PCS could be a great time to open up one of those cards, meet the minimum spend. And now you've got that card's annual fee waived too, if you're military, or if you already have one of those cards and your spouses have one of those cards, you can meet the minimum spend during a PCS in just a couple of months.

And it's, it's. It's a lot easier and it takes the burden off of tracking, okay are we going to meet the minimum spend on this when all of a sudden you have to buy $4,000 worth of plane tickets? You're like, okay, done. And I guess, and I, and if it's the Amex Platinum, you get 5X points on it and now all of a sudden you've got 20,000 more Amex points in your pocket, which is great.

So one thing that we talked about earlier was considering fully flexible tickets, thanks to COVID a lot of airline tickets are fully flexible now. And that's, that's one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic. The other thing is sometimes, the American carriers are a lot.

If your orders get changed or revoked. I had a flight on Delta once that, and I think this was probably pre COVID, but I got my boss to write a memo saying, the TDY changed or that I can't remember the exact situation, but he just wrote the memo. I sent it to Delta and they refunded the ticket.

Yep. This is another, yeah, another good push here for military travel insurance. So USAA has a great product that covers good points. Yeah. Military leave. If your leave is changed or revoked and usually all you need is just someone in your chain of command. It could just be like your supervisor.

Basically somebody with more rank than you to sign a memorandum that says, Hey, the leave situation changed and they actually had to perform military duty instead of going on leave and then I've never had any problems with USAA travel insurance paying out. And especially when I was flying a lot more, it was definitely valuable, it was a couple dozen dollars, maybe $50 at the most.

And I had thousands of dollars of airfare and hotels paid out because of that. A couple other caveats when you are doing circuitous travel or LICWO. Make sure that you read up about the Fly America Act. So that requires you to use American owned airlines, if available, and where this bites a lot of people there might not be an actual American airlines tail or Delta, aircraft that flies into that airport, but they might codeshare with a foreign carrier.

So for instance, I've got a friend who's going to Qatar in a couple of weeks and he's flying. Qatar Airways out of DFW at Dallas Fort Worth to Doha, but the ticket was booked through American Airlines. So it's code shared with American Airlines and foreign flag carriers, but you have to book it through American and then where that becomes tricky is when you go to try to upgrade.

You, it might it's a little, you might not have booked the fair class that you think you were booking. And then it might cost more points to upgrade to business class if you're looking at upgrading it, but definitely look into the fly America act. And I ran into trouble where I flew, I can't remember.

I'm trying to remember which, Oh, it was Canada to Hawaii. And I flew on Air Canada. And there was a code share like an American Airlines flight that was available, and I should have booked that one, so I didn't get reimbursed for that leg.

[00:26:44] Jamie: So even though you're on leave status, it's still considered official travel that is bound by the Fly America Act?

Seems weird.

[00:26:52] Spencer: Yeah, so if you Especially for circuitous travel, you have to abide by the Fly America Act, or you're not going to get reimbursed.

[00:27:05] Jamie: Yep. So Spencer, I wanted to share on my last PCS, I mentioned a little bit already just to give some numbers to give an example, our max reimbursable rate from Honolulu to Montgomery, Alabama was $539 per person.

That's the one way rate, the YCA fare. From Honolulu to Montgomery that was for five of us, including a full fare for my, at that time, one and a half year old, which was really nice to be able to get her own seat and not have to deal with a lap child the whole time. We ended up doing those. We ended up flying from Honolulu to Philly.

We took some leave there. Then we went from Philly to South Carolina, took some more leave there. And then we picked up my car in Atlanta and drove the rest of the way. So all of that travel, we only paid $24 per person out of pocket for all the extra flying and all the other circuitous routes that we did.

So that's just a little example there. When we PCS to Hawaii, they wanted us to fly to Travis Air Force Base in NorCal, sit there for two days waiting for the rotator. In a hotel, with two kids at the time, then take the rotator, which gets in like Sunday night at, 10:30 PM, just a complete waste, unnecessary stress for the family.

So we used circuitous travel for that one when we moved to Hawaii as well.

[00:28:14] Spencer: Okay, now let's transition to leave in conjunction with TDY or leave in conjunction with official travel LICWO. So the approving official, the AO, whoever issues your orders, it's usually your commander, your supervisor. They may permit a service member or a civilian employee to combine leave or personal travel with official travel as long as there's no additional cost to the government.

So let's say you go TDY from Washington DC to Denver, Colorado. Your family's in Denver. You perform your official duty for three days, and then it's the weekend, and you want to fly back on Monday, so Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you do your official duty, Saturday, Sunday, you don't, you're on leave, and then Monday, you fly back to, Washington, D.C. 

In that example, you'd receive the cost. Obviously, the government can just book your ticket from D.C. To Denver and you get per diem for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you get no per diem because you're on leave on Saturday, Sunday and on Monday. You get travel day per diem and you get your flight back to Washington, D.C. 

That's a pretty easy example where it gets a little bit more complicated is when you're taking leave and route. So let's say your family is in Massachusetts and you're going to Oklahoma. This was a real example of one of my troops recently. He flew from Hawaii to Boston. Visited his family and then continued on from Boston to Oklahoma, and then once he's done with his training, he'll go from Oklahoma, right back to Hawaii.

So in that case, they're just going to do the same thing they do with circuitous travel. They're going to look at the cost of the ticket from Hawaii to Oklahoma. And they're going to say it's $500 bucks or whatever it is. That's your authorized reimbursed limit. And so when he booked the tickets from Boston from Hawaii to Boston and Boston to Oklahoma, I think it cost about $600.

And so he had to pay $100 out of pocket and he was reimbursed $500. And so that's a good example right there. That's great.

[00:30:10] Jamie: Cause that's way cheaper than paying for a round trip ticket from Honolulu to Boston out of pocket would be way more than that.

[00:30:16] Spencer: Exactly. Exactly. So with LICWO, you can take leave at the place that your TDY and route to the place that your TDY, or when you're returning from the TDY.

So anywhere in the world. And you can do it before or after the official duty because it doesn't cost the government any extra money. So this is a great way. If you're going somewhere really cool and you're just now for a lot of TDYs, like you're there for a reason. And then you're going to leave on military transportation and like you don't have a choice, but if you're flying commercial air and you're going to a conference, let's say, or you're doing some training or like I used to, when I was in Abu Dhabi.

Stationed out there. I used to have to go to Ramstein to get my flight physicals. So That was an example right there of where I would take LICWO travel. So the JTR says reimbursement is authorized for the actual cost of the transportation used and the enroute per diem Limited to what the government cost would have been between the official duty stations using the policy constructed airfare. Also known as YCA, And had there been no personal leave taken.

So basically they just look, what would be the cost of the trip? If you just did it, like they wanted you to, and that's the maximum that you can be reimbursed. But that's good for you as a service member, because there's two types of airfare that they usually have available.

That's constructed airfare CA, and then the YCA is the, the fully flexible constructed airfare. So you might, you can check this on you can google GCA city pairs and these are the government, federal government contracts airlines and says, okay, we need someone to give us flights every day.

We need a hundred seats from, or that's probably a lot, but let's say 10 seats every day, Washington D.C, Denver, and United and American airlines submit their bids every year. And let's say United says, okay, we'll do it for a hundred bucks. And American says, we'll do it for $200 bucks.

And the government should say, okay, we'll go with United. And then that becomes the YCA, the YCA the fully flexible constructed or contracted airfare. So in fiscal year 22 I just looked and so let's say you're going from  Fort Sill or Oklahoma City to El Paso, then the YCA is $253 one way.

So $253 each way. So let's say that you're going from El Paso to Oklahoma city and you want to visit family there. Or let's say your family's in Houston, right? So you can just add that as an extra stop. And as long as that whole trip costs less than $500 and you pay nothing out of pocket and you just have to take a couple of days of leave.

So that's a great, like my example I gave where my airmen went to Massachusetts. If that. If those tickets had been less than $400 or less than $500, and he would have, he wouldn't have paid anything. And then he basically got a free trip home. Couple examples of how I've used LICWO.

One of them was, we went to my wife and I, we were stationed in Abu Dhabi. We went, I went to Germany to get my flight physical and I just took five days of leave. I think it was the end of it. It might've been in the beginning, but it doesn't matter. Like the government doesn't care. As long as you're there for your official duty, and as long as the tickets don't cost any extra.

That was a $1,500 plane ticket that got reimbursed. We went to France, Switzerland, and Germany. And again, I had to buy her ticket completely separately but my ticket, I was able to, set up the route that I wanted to take. Another one was a TDY to Oklahoma from the Middle East.

That was a $900 plane ticket completely reimbursed. And I stopped by Florida for my brother's wedding on that one. And then one of our best TDY LICWOs was Egypt. I was doing a TDY there. My wife flew out and I just added, tacked on three days of leave at the end of the TDY.

Hung out in a super cool hotel right in the Nile River. We went and saw the pyramids and all we had to do was pay for her tickets to come out to see me. And obviously the hotel, we had to pay for that as well once the official TDY was ended. Yeah, and then also remember a lot of times when they book you the TDY tickets are going to be fully flexible, full rate economy, Y class fares, and they're going to include free cancellation date and flight changes.

So a lot of times you can just let the government book you the ticket and then you can just call the airline and say. Hey, actually, like I wanted to, they said that they were going to come back on Monday. I'm going to take a couple days of leave and I'm going to come back on Friday and they can just change the ticket for you without even needing to rebook anything.

And if you want to upgrade to business or first class, you can do it as well. So just, use points as long as it doesn't cost the government anything, then they don't really care. And also the other thing I should mention here too, make sure you add your frequent flier miles on official travel because it's very clear in the JTR any points, loyalty, miles, anything that you earn while performing official travel belongs to you.

[00:35:09] Jamie: It doesn't belong to the government. So make sure you add those details when you make the booking. 

Just a really good episode today, Spencer. I think as we went over the circuitous travel and leave in conjunction with official TDY rules and the benefits of it it's such a huge benefit to be able to adjust your flights, take some leave, hit some cool destinations and enjoy some family time or downtime before hitting the grind again at your new base or at your TDY location or after for TDYs.

So you're not costing the government anything and the joint travel regulations allow all of this. So the overarching themes apply to all branches. Although some of the procedures we talked about may vary slightly. 

As always, we appreciate all of our listeners. And again, if you have time, please leave us a five star review wherever you're listening to this podcast, share it with your friends if you think it'll help them as well.

If you have any feedback or questions, you can reach us on Instagram @militarymoneymanual, or by email at[00:36:04] Spencer: We'll see you next week. Thanks for listening to the military money manual podcast.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.