Why Use the City Pair Program?

» Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Airlines | 0 comments

Often travelers question why they must use the “City Pair Program” by choosing contract flights for their travel.  I will briefly try to justify the benefits and reasons for the Government’s use of the “City Pair Program”.

One obvious benefit of using the City Pair Program for airline flights is that there are no penalties to Government travelers.  For example, if one’s travel is cancelled at the last minute, the agency does not need to pay a hefty cancellation or change fee.  This is one of the reasons why the contract City Pair Program airline fares are priced higher than the typical fare one would find at Orbitz or Travelocity.  The fares that one usually books for personal travel are penalty-laden, and full of restrictions.  Using the contract fare, the Government can avoid penalties.

The City Pair Program also is very helpful for travel budgeting purposes.  For example, I have used the City Pair fares to get estimates on travel costs for a cost comparison of possible meeting locations.  It helps to know what the approximate airline costs would be for Government travelers.

The Government can also save money by choosing the capacity-controlled contract fares which are offered between some City Pair Program locations.  In addition, the cost savings for using the City Pair Program reflects an approximate 50-70% savings off of the unrestricted coach fares.

There are exceptions to the mandatory use of the City Pair Program, a list of which can be found in the Federal Travel Regulation.  One exception which I don’t understand is the exception that lists a “lower priced fare is available to the general public”.  I don’t think our ETS usually lists fares available to the general public, so how do we choose a lower priced fare available to the general public?  I want to save our agency funds, and at the same time I want to make sure we’re following the Federal Travel Regulation.

By K.J. Martin

*NB: The above post is my personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my agency or of the Federal Government.*

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