Public servants including Australia's senior diplomats have been instructed not to accept first-class flight upgrades in line with the Abbott government's frugal image.
A memo sent to staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) earlier this month carried a string of directives which a spokeswoman said is in line with advice sent to all branches of federal government.
"DFAT staff have been advised that when travelling on official business they should not accept offers of upgrades to first class," the spokeswoman told AAP.
The order has sparked displeasure among some DFAT workers, many of whom make repeated long-haul flights with short turnarounds to represent Australia abroad.
In November, Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote to ministers outlining new travel expense procedures: flights to be booked at business class or below; accommodation costs to be kept to a minimum; and proposed itineraries exceeding $20,000 be signed off by a department secretary.
Mr Abbott has led by example, opting for economy-class seats for himself and his family on a recent flight to Paris.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has ministerial responsibility for DFAT, has also adopted a thrifty attitude to travel, reportedly turning down expensive hotel suites in favour of less opulent accommodation.
The memo to DFAT staff indicates all workers are expected to be similarly penny-wise.
Proposed travel costing up to $20,000 must be approved by a department secretary. Travel in excess of $20,000 needs to be ticked off by Ms Bishop or Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb. If the bill is likely to come in above $50,000 then Mr Abbott's office must be consulted.
The DFAT spokeswoman said the rules were already in effect.