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the long arm of the law

I second Marcus' warning ... there are laws governing this sort of thing. So do not try to get reimbursed for things you are not legally entitled to. You will even bigger problems on your hand if you do.

Former Phil Grad Student

At least at my university, there is generally a policy against reimbursement for travel that didn’t happen. However, in 2020, exceptions were made for nonrefundable travel arrangements, so I’d ask whoever is in charge of approving those things. Pre-pandemic, my spouse worked at a non-academic job where he traveled a lot and he still has $1500 in airline credit that he can only use for work purposes and won’t be refunded to him (it was put on our personal credit card). His company finally reimbursed him for it 9 months into the pandemic.

Bill Vanderburgh

I'd say the host is morally bound to reimburse you for costs you incurred to deliver a talk at their invitation, whether it was in person or otherwise. If they have purchasing rules that prevent them reimbursing for travel that didn't happen, they should try to pay you an equivalent honorarium. BTW most airlines and hotels have been pretty good about helping in these situations--you would probably get travel credit for a flight or hotel that is not refundable. But this also raises the point that you should purchase refundable tickets when someone else is paying.

Assoc. Prof

My general policy is to refuse to pay for my own flight/hotel room and wait for reimbursement if I am invited to give a talk. I've never understood why some universities think that it is acceptable to invite someone and then tell them to pay for the flight on their own and hope that the reimbursement process will be quick/easy/actually happen. When I was desperate for a job, I'd do it, but now that the benefits have shifted away from me to the institution inviting me, I no longer play ball.

As Bill notes, the host is morally bound to reimburse you for costs incurred, but I have yet to encounter an institution that takes itself to be bound by morality...

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