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Submitting a boarding pass on an expense report

Stewart Linder's Profile

We are thinking of asking all employees to submit their boarding pass as part of their expense reimbursement backup. Is this something that should be implemented as another control or is it too much to ask of our travelers? Thanks, Stewart


Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

To simply answer your question.....TOO MUCH!

What's your rationale for asking for the boarding pass? It seems (reading from your question) it is for Control for "control" sake and that the document is there/available anyways.

You have to remember that the purpose is to document the expense....NOT that the employee actually took the flight or ate the meal or took the cab. To be absurd, there are more efficient and accurate solutions can require your employees to wear a GPS tracker or a body cam. be absurd.

As I always say....culture and quality of people has more to do with T&E policies and documentation.

Ankur Kulkarni
Title: CFO
Company: Cochlear South Asia
(CFO, Cochlear South Asia) |

Hi Stewart,
I'd agree with Emerson. Controls need to be 'tight yet light'.

As finance professionals, we need to orient our thinking to be more customer-centric. Checking the boarding pass is purely a non-value add activity as far as your customer is concerned. We can surely use our time much much better.

Just to get a full background - have there been instances of unsubstantiated travel which you are trying to curb? If yes, are these really significant? Are you trying to send a message across the company?


Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

So if I use the airline app on my smartphone, there is no boarding pass, just an image that is scanned. Now what?

Stewart Linder
Title: Global Controller
Company: AxiomSL
(Global Controller, AxiomSL) |

Thank you for your responses. First of all, one of our clients has now requested we include boarding passes as part of the backup.

The purpose of asking for the boarding pass is to show you actually got on the flight. Unlike a meal, you can book a flight and then cancel it and still ask for reimbursement since the original charge is on your credit card.

For boarding passes on your phone, you can take a screen shot and use this as your backup. Nothing is perfect.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Hi Stewart,
I would explain to the client that if your employee turns up at their office, they did not get there by getting Scotty to beam them up.
If the expense report includes their hotel bill in their city that correlates to the air trip, what more do they really need?
It's a really dumb request, you should not agree to it, period.

(Business Analyst) |

Employees specially senior executives will feel awkward on being asked for boarding passes. Also the thought process of employees towards company might change that their job is totally unrewarding since most of the employees keep on working during travel also. As Len said there are always escapes available if someone wants to actually ditch.

Deanna Miller
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Professional Plumbing Group
(Chief Financial Officer, Professional Plumbing Group) |

The point of a control is to trust but verify. As Stewart says, how do you know the employee actually made the flight if they are remote. If the flight was booked on a company credit card, the refund should also show on the company credit card. It is harder to verify if the employee uses a personal card. A boarding pass, in the time of paper, was a direct proof. The employee is still likely to have at least an e-mail for proof of other destination costs - hotel bill, restaurant, Uber receipt, etc.- that might be easier than a screen shot to prove that the trip actually occurred.

Since Stewart's client is the one looking for proof, they may want evidence of the trip even if everything was on the company credit card because they would not see if a refund was posted at a later date.

Good luck in your negotiations with the client.

Thom Gelozin
Title: Controller
Company: BBB
(Controller, BBB) |

While the boarding pass is a stronger way of evidencing the trip was taken if there were flight cancellations and rebooking was necessary that would then subvert the control. Before slapping more controls (and more low value work for the finance team chasing paper) how pervasive is the problem we are trying to solve? I have seen organizations impose draconian controls because of one or two individuals instead of dealing with the problem individuals.

Could this be a management point that the client's auditors pointed out?

Paul Casey
Title: Finance Manager
Company: Allscripts
(Finance Manager, Allscripts) |

I have heard that this was a policy at a large company due to the fact that it was discovered that travelers were submitting expense reports for canceled trips. It was too easy to book a flight and then cancel and then submit an expense report for reimbursement.

I think it works as a control to stop the few people who would exploit the loophole in the reimbursement process. The only question is whether it is worth the hassle to all the honest travelers. It is a business judgement call that could go either way depending on the cost benefit analysis for your travel expenses. Also if a client is requiring it then whether you want to challenge the client or keep the client happy etc.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

"it was discovered that travelers were submitting expense reports for canceled trips"
That's fraud, which is a crime and it deserves the right sanction. Instant dismissal and refund of stolen money.

Title: Administrator
Company: Anonym
(Administrator, Anonym) |

The T&E staff should be able to make good judgments when control/verify/process the expense reports . Once in a while, it is normal to exist cancelled business trips due to various causes. The T&E staff must be able to identify the travel date on tickets and to request additional info.
A traveler must include in his/her expense report request for reimbursement the following: documentation for the original flight; copy of the voucher for the cancelled flight; and the documentation for the re-booked flight.
A Travel Policy should include that is recommended to book online the business trip, and to print out the details of the trip or just to forward the details of the trip(the e-mailed confirmation with the details received from airlines) to the T&E staff.
The traveler must inform timely if a business trip is cancelled and is required to provide a copy of the documentation for the originally booked flight, and of the voucher received if any or documentation to prove that a flight cannot be re-booked. The company keeps track of this expense if paid by credit card. Periodically, a reminder is sent to questioning if the voucher for the cancelled flight was used.
Example to include in a policy: 'if flights have to be cancelled and they are prepaid with company’s credit card, the voucher for cancelled airfares to be used for another travel, within 120 days from the date of cancellation. The corporate cardholder is responsible to inform the accounting department about cancellation of the business trip.'.
If a new business trip cannot be booked, we require either the traveler to keep the voucher for personal use, and to provide the company with a check or call the airlines to cancel the voucher, and provide the company with documentation that the voucher is cancelled and cannot be used for personal.

Jenny Laughlin
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Remote-Learner
LinkedIn Profile
(Chief Financial Officer, Remote-Learner) |

In all honesty, I would be questioning my company's managers if I believed they were so unaware of the whereabouts and activities of their direct reports that they wouldn't realize a trip had been cancelled and that the employee did not materialize at the expected destination. And that is how I would respond to a client who insisted on dictating my controls as it sounds like Stewart's client has. Also, the inclusion of the hotel, meal and other related expense receipts that are generally imprinted with addresses in the locale of the flight destination indicate that the person did actually get on the flight. To this end, requiring trip specific T&E reports rather than one T&E submission for the month (particularly for frequent travelers) improves the accounting departments ability to confirm the veracity of the T&E report without needing to go overboard on documentation (and it also improves the cost center owner's ability to monitor the purpose and efficacy of the travel his team is doing).

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I'm always amazed how paperwork for the sake of paperwork is the norm, and the veracity it is fought during the trend of change management.

Annie Mullassery
Title: Group Internal Auditor
Company: Groupxen
(Group Internal Auditor, Groupxen) |

There is a possibility that travelers submit expense reports for high value canceled trips. It is easy to book a flight, cancel and then purchase a lower value ticket to pocket the difference. The expense report is submitted with the higher cost of ticket which was cancelled and other expenses(meal, hotel etc.,) incurred for reimbursement.
Hence requesting a boarding pass or booking through the company approved travel agency is essential.


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