A government employee who wishes to travel by air but is not eligible for the same, will now have the freedom to book Leave Travel Concession (LTC) tickets from any travel agent. Changes have also been made in rules related to reimbursement of various fees, including cancellation charges.

Central Government employees in Group C (pay matrix of 1-5) will be eligible for the changed norms on booking air tickets. According to Finance Ministry reports, there are around 27 lakh employees in this category.

Currently, air tickets can be purchased from three Authorized Travel Agents (ATAs), namely, Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd (BLCL), Ashok Travels & Tours (ATT), and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC).

Also, the choice of travel agent from the three authorised agents has been left to the Ministry/ Department concerned and the official in case of self-booking. These ATAs are not paid agency charges/convenience fees.

“It has been decided that Government employees not entitled to air travel, but who wish to travel by air, are no longer required to mandatorily book their air tickets through these three travel agencies viz. BLCL, ATT and IRCTC, as the reimbursement is restricted to the actual air fare or the entitled train/ bus fare for the shortest route, whichever is less,” an office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT said).

Also read: Air travel by LTC: Centre issues instructions to employees

However, cancellation charges, if any, will have to be borne by such employees. Also, in case of the Special Dispensation Scheme, Government employees not entitled to air travel under LTC, but who wish to travel by air to the intended place of visit in the NE region, and the UTs of J&K, Ladakh, and A&N, are required to book their air ticket through the three ATAs only, the memorandum said.

Cancellation charges levied by the airlines or the three ATAs will be reimbursed on the ground of official exigencies only.

On reimbursement of catering charges in case of LTC, the OM said since Indian Railways now provides travellers the option to to avail of catering facilities, it has been decided that “wherever employees opt for catering services while booking tickets for the eligible trains for the purpose of LTC, the reimbursement of catering charges shall be allowed.”

The OM made it clear that all these changes will come into effect for new cases. “The cases which have already been settled need not be reopened,” the OM said.