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The General Services Administration (GSA) manages the airline City Pair Program (CPP) to provide discounted air transportation services for Federal travelers Government-wide. Since its inception in 1980, the airline City Pair Program has expanded its presence domestically and internationally, to include 13 carriers in over 6,100 markets.
Federal travelers are able to achieve the best deals on airfare available. CPP averages savings of 70% below full, commercial air fares. In addition, CPP features benefits that allow Government travelers supreme flexibility.
When you use the City Pair Program, Fares are unrestricted, meaning:
No Advance purchase required – you get the same great deal anytime
No minimum or maximum length of stay required
Tickets are fully refundable
No airline fee for cancellations or changes
Last seat availability
No blackout periods
In many city pairs, there are two contract fares, also known as Dual Fares: a highly discounted unrestricted fare (YCA), and a capacity controlled fare (_CA) with an even deeper discount. _CA fares have a limited number of seats, but no other restrictions. _CA seat availability on a particular flight varies carrier-by-carrier and market-by-market. These capacity controlled fares provide all the benefits of CPP and are at the deepest discount but need to be booked well in advance of travel.
If your Agency policy permits you to use commercial fares, available to the general public, and the commercial fare is cheaper than the CPP fare, then you can book that fare. Many commercial fares are non-refundable and carry penalties and it is important to take all potential penalties into consideration when comparing a commercial fare to a CPP fare. Penalties include change fees and non-refundable tickets.
The airline carriers charge a change fee to travel agents that do not reissue a ticket when a traveler makes a voluntary change to a ticketed transaction. This is a policy between the airlines and travel agents and not part of the City Pair Program contract, but applies to all the respective air carriers’ business.
If a travel agent does not change the record, the carrier won’t be able to determine if a flight is overbooked or if additional monies should be collected or refunded as a result of the change. When the traveler checks in, that person’s record will not show the most recent changes which may impact his/her ability to board that flight.
The airlines are not charging the government this change fee; rather, the airlines are charging this fee to the travel agent if the travel agent does not reissue the ticket when a change was made after the ticket was issued. The charge is not imposed when the travel agent reissues tickets to reflect voluntary changes.
Due to the continued volatility in fuel costs, the City Pair Program is allowing airlines to assess a fuel surcharge to domestic or international contract fares under the following conditions:
The fuel surcharge may only be assessed on fares corresponding to the contract fares after the surcharge has been in place commercially for a minimum of 14 consecutive days.
The fuel surcharge may not be higher than that imposed commercially.
The fuel surcharge will be assessed at the time of ticket issuance.
The fuel surcharge will be removed from the contract fares when it is no longer imposed commercially on the applicable fares in a market.
While the booking of the contract fares (YCA) is guaranteed, as long as economy class seats are available, choice of a particular seat is not guaranteed. Seat assignments are under the discretion of the carriers. Many airlines do not make seat selection available until very close to the flight’s time and date. Therefore, we strongly suggest all travelers confirm seat assignments as early as allowed.
In addition, early arrival for check-in at the airport or online check-in before arriving at the airport is recommended. Travelers run the risk of losing pre-reserved seats with late check-in times, as seat assignments may be released close to departure time and given to other passengers. It should also be noted, that at times, seat assignments may change when there is a change of equipment or a need to accommodate a family, group or disabled person.
Code sharing is a commercial agreement between two airlines that allows an airline to put its two-letter identification code on the flights of another airline as they appear in computerized reservations systems.
For example, Delta Airlines might have an agreement to operate flights for United Airlines on a route. This flight would be listed under United’s identification code (UA) but actually operated by Delta Airlines.
Most airlines, including all City Pair Program contract carriers, participate in some type of commercial code-share agreement. These agreements allow carriers to expand their service offerings without additional resources, equipment and costs.
Due to these business agreements, many of the carriers cannot legally obligate their code-share partners’ inventories for YCA (unrestricted) contract fares.
In conclusion, to get the best price and benefits, book your government travel using the City Pair Program.
By: Crystal Horner
Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.