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There are two types of government fares that our travelers can book in the E Travel System, GSA City Pair Fares and Government fares.
In 1980 the General Services Administration (GSA) developed the City Pair Program (CPP) to provide discounted air passenger transportation services to Federal government travelers. In the beginning, this service only covered 11 markets, but has grown to over 5,000 city pairs. The average savings is 63%-77% below commercial full fares. A critical aspect of travel planning is flexibility and the CPP has many features that allow Government travelers all the flexibility possible.
Features of the Service include:
- Non-stop service was awarded on 95% of the markets where non-stop service was offered.
- Fares are priced on one-way routes, permitting agency travelers to plan multiple destinations.
- Fares are unrestricted, meaning:
- No advance purchase required
- Tickets are fully refundable
- No charge for cancellations or changes
- Last seat availability
- No blackout periods
- No minimum or maximum length of stay required
The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) require nearly all Federal government travelers to use the CPP which is part of the reason GSA is able to obtain such phenomenal pricing. There are a few exceptions for not using the CPP; however, travelers that use these exceptions would have to abide by the many restrictions that typically go along with standard commercial fares. Some of these restrictions could include non-refundability and change or cancellation fees, which could increase the total trip cost by several hundred dollars.
Some airlines that do not win the contract offer Federal travelers a government fare—sometimes referred to as a “me too” or “matching” fare. These fares are usually comparable to the contract fare in price; however, they may or may not be fully refundable and may come with ticketing restrictions.
Our E Travel System has the mandatory use of the CPP built in so that travelers can easily identify which fares are contract carriers and which ones are not. Built in audits force travelers who do not chose the contract carrier to provide FTR justifications before completing their travel authorization. These built in controls encourage the use of the CPP and keep our travelers in compliance with Federal travel regulations. Unfortunately, travelers who book their reservations by calling the agency designated TMC directly run into issues with identifying a CPP and a non-contract government fare. The issue usually involves the terminology used by the TMC agent and the travelers understanding of the difference between a contract and non-contract government fare. Booking reservations directly with the TMC bypasses the built in audit controls thus allowing the traveler a false sense of security in believing that they have booked their reservations in compliance with the FTR. On a positive note, once the TMC transmits the traditional reservations back into the E Travel System, the system picks up the built in audits and forces the next person in the routing to justify use of a non-contract fare. To alleviate confusion between a CPP and non-contract government fare, travelers should always ask for a contract fare instead of a government fare when booking directly with the TMC.
by Carole Byrd
Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency. Use of this equipment is consistent with the agency’s policy governing limited personal use.