If you are a Government traveler, you surely know that GSA has all the airlines bid for the government contracted fare between two given cities known as GSA City Pairs. The winners for FY13 were announced in August and take effect next Monday 1 October. Several factors beyond just low price are factored into the bids according to the GSA. all of which are supposed to allow you more flexability and reliance. Here is the statement from GSA:
“GSA’s mission is to help federal agencies save money, and that includes getting the best price for government travelers,” said Mary Davie, Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. “By leveraging the government’s buying power, we are able to maximize cost-savings for federal agencies and save taxpayer dollars.”
The City Pairs Program establishes standard airfare rates between cities where the federal workforce typically travels, and these pre-negotiated rates save the government money. GSA is able to negotiate best-value pricing for the government by using travel data. All major U.S. carriers participate in the City Pairs Program. The 2013 rates will become effective October 1, 2012.
For fiscal year 2013 the City Pairs Program retained all of the same benefits, which save the federal government on commercial travel rates. The program gives federal travelers the flexibility to book one- way, multileg, and round-trip airfare at the lowest cost possible, while retaining the ability to adjust or cancel flights at no additional cost to the government.
When awarding City Pairs contracts to airlines, GSA considers a number of criteria, including availability of nonstop service, total number of flights, flight availability, average elapsed flight time, and price of service. The program also offers dual fare markets to provide flexibility for immediate travel and discounted fares for booking flights early.
OK, so you may be asking “what does the price of the ticket for FY 13 have to do with me?” The simple answer is that the price doesn’t, but the new winning carrier may have a lot to do with your mileage earnings. So if you had to fly HNL-ICN last year the carrier was Hawaiian, well starting Monday the GSA carrier is Delta (really Korean Air) and this may affect your strategy for earning miles and status. It would be worth your while to examine the new GSA City Pairs here. Helpfully, it has links for both the FY 12 and FY 13 GSA City Pairs for comparison.
It might be useful for you to check some of your common routes and see if that affects your flight plan to making a certain status for the year. If the main carrier does change, remember that you do have a couple of strategies to help you keep flying your carrier of choice. First, if another air carrier’s fare is lower than the GSA Airfare, you can usually take your prefered airline and justify it in DTS as a savings to the Government. Another way is to examine the surronuding area and see if it is cheaper to fly into a nearby city and drive to your duty location if the airfare is cheaper to the alternate airport. For example, next month I must fly HNL-FAY (Ft. Bragg) for a conference. Flying to a little city like Fayetteville is often expensive compared to flying to a larger airport like RDU (Raliegh-Durham) and driving 90 minutes to Ft. Bragg. Take a look next time you need to fly. It might get you the right flavor of miles to become a high status flyer.