Airline City Pair Program

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» Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Airlines | 0 comments

It appears that there are still a few Federal Travelers still having a hard time grasping the benefits and functions of the GSA City Pair Program.  The program has been extremely successful, starting over 30 years ago when they had originally covered only 11 markets and now have expanded to over 5,000 city pairs.  Yet still, the average Federal Traveler automatically wants to compare these flights to the ones that they can find out on the internet through sites such as; Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz.  It only makes matters worse when these airlines try enticing them through commercials and advertisements with their great deals that no one would want to pass up, especially when it is the airline of your choice.  Finding a cheaper fare that is available to the general public at a price that the contract carrier can’t extend to you can be a valid exception to using a government’s negotiated contract rate under the City Pair Program, as long as they are booked under the TMC.  Federal Traveler’s have to follow the FTR that states that they must book their transportation in their agency’s travel system.  When you find lower cost alternatives for commercial air travel, you should try and take advantage of those, PROVIDED that you can meet the purchase restrictions associated with such reduced fares and have your agency’s approval.  These “cheap” fares often have advance purchase requirements, black-out dates, stiff cancellation or change fees, and/or are even non-refundable.  Many times a traveler ends up paying much more for fees than they do the ticket when they have to make last minute changes to their flights due to travel date and/or time changes that are out of their control.

The airfares offered under this program are discounted considerably off comparable commercial fares–saving the federal government millions of dollars annually.

In addition to the price savings, the Airline City Pair Program has many features which allow government travelers all the flexibility possible in planning official travel. The benefits of this service include:

  • Fares priced on one-way routes permitting agencies to plan multiple destinations
  • No advance purchase required
  • No minimum or maximum length stay required
  • Tickets fully refundable
  • Last seat availability
  • No blackout periods
  • Stable prices enabling travel budgeting
  • Dual fares availability

For Airline City Pair contract airfares, visit Airfares (City Pair Search).  The shortcut for this page is www.gsa.gov/citypairsearch.

I’m sure in time with our continued efforts of training and information sharing the knowledge, benefits and ease of using City Pair fares will be an automatic need and want of the all Federal Travelers.  GSA and other agencies keep a close eye on the Federal Traveler’s needs and wants and their continued efforts to award contracts that will satisfy the Federal Traveler’s purposes will be rewarded by all.  One thing is for sure, the internet based discount web sites cannot assure the confidence in their reservations that GSA can.  GSA understands the Federal Traveler’s requirements in following the FTR and their need to be advantageous to the government.  The flexibility in the City Pair fare extends the secure knowledge of no hidden fees when making multiple changes due to last minute schedules and needs that a majority of Federal Travelers often experience because of their job requirements.  Sometimes I think the average non-Federal Traveler would like to have that security as well, to know that if/when their schedules or needs change they won’t automatically cringe or stress themselves on what the cheapest thing to do would be.  Life is too short to have to worry over excessive fees if you don’t have to.

Another great benefit with having City Pair fares is that these are available in the eTravel system designated for your agency.  Let’s be realistic there are times when the systems are not up-to-date with all the information at every possible second of the day, but have been proven to be pretty accurate when the market and economy are both steady.  Occasionally an awarded contract has been rescinded or cancelled but I notice that it is usually just a certain flight and there are usually other flights at different times of the day with the same airline still in effect.  Sometimes it seems that there are not enough awards for where and when you want to travel, but there are reports and studies done on what locations were in demand.  Offering too many awards for one location can result in the reservation prices to increase; we have to remember that the more they spend on additional flights to the same destinations the more it costs the traveler.

I know from personal experience I was so grateful for the city pair fare in saving me additional

By:  Debra Hardman

“The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Bureau of the Government or my Agency.”

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