Some Thoughts On The GSA Hotel System and Airline Flights

» Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

First, the material does not note that some chains permit Government workers on personal travel to take advantage of Government rates. This is not so of all chains and you cannot use a Government credit card for such purposes. I suspect, that it works well for those chains that offer it as it creates a kind of brand loyalty and Government travelers are free to select the hotel they wish to use on Government travel.

Second, the article does not note that per diem for a CONUS city is broken into two parts. The first part is for lodging, the second is for meals and incidentals. Government workers on CONUS travel, under GSA rules, receive up to the Government rate for hotels in an area (with some exceptions). However, that part of the per diem is limited by what the employee actually spends. Employees booking their own hotels have no incentive to book at a Motel 6 or La Quinta that is below per diem if they can book at a Hilton at Government rate. Also, since the per diem for meals and incidentals is paid at a flat city rate, if an employee can book a hotel that serves breakfast on Government rate, that means that he/she has more money to spend on other meals and incidentals.

Third, in some cases Government travelers simply leave hotel selection to TMC/CTOs. It appears that their hotel selections are probably guided by the commissions paid.

Fourth, this chapter does not discuss how CONUS per diem is paid on a 24 hour clock. This is a GSA phenomenon which is often confusing to Government travelers and impacts on per diem for short trips. I know that under the rules in effect the last time I traveled, GSA assumed that airlines provided meals. Has this/is this being changed in light of the fact that many airlines are no longer providing meals or are charging travelers for meals?

Fifth, recently airlines have begun adding charges for first and second bags, meals, blankets, etc.. I am curious as to what, if anything, is being done to account for these differences between airlines in city pair rates? Also, does the traveler absorb these extra costs as part of his/her per diem?

by Scott Goldsmith

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