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Government contractor rate, basic economy required?

Government contractor rate, basic economy required?

Old Aug 26, 20, 12:24 pm
  #1  
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Government contractor rate, basic economy required?

Hi everyone. This is my first post ever after lurking for years. I apologize if this has been discussed, and I think this is the right board, since I fly AA. I searched to the best of my ability but couldn't find a definitive answer to this question.

I'm about to subcontract with a prime government contractor and one of the stipulations for travel is following FAR 31.205-46, Travel requirements. Specifically:

Airfare costs in excess of the lowest priced airfare available to the contractor during normal business hours are unallowable except when such accommodations require circuitous routing, require travel during unreasonable hours, excessively prolong travel, result in increased cost that would offset transportation savings, are not reasonably adequate for the physical or medical needs of the traveler, or are not reasonably available to meet mission requirements. However, in order for airfare costs in excess of the above airfare to be allowable, the applicable condition(s) set forth above must be documented and justified.

I'm PLT on AA and COVID has been pretty good to me in terms of upgrades, and the productivity that comes with that. In the experience of others who contract with government, are you confined to the hell that is "basic economy," or is there flexibility in booking that you can leverage to get main cabin. I'm not trying to do anything unethical. I just know I'm going to fly regularly, and I will not be able to get a hell of a lot done in middle seats next to the lav.

Thanks all!
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Old Aug 26, 20, 2:09 pm
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I work for a Government contractor. I don't think Basic Economy tickets even show when we search in Concur. It's never been an issue.
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Old Aug 26, 20, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS View Post
I work for a Government contractor. I don't think Basic Economy tickets even show when we search in Concur. It's never been an issue.
Same here. I work for a federal contractor. We follow GSA rules (plus a few local add-ons). Concur does not show us BE fares.

saunders111
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Old Aug 26, 20, 4:39 pm
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Government fares aren't basic economy, but the OP seems to believe (can this be clarified/verified with the contractor or the agency?) that OP will use publicly available and published fares for the travel and just purchase tickets directly from the airline. [BTW, government fares are also very flexible in terms of changes, when payment occurs--which can be bad for upgrades--and availability.]
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Old Aug 26, 20, 5:00 pm
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Why don't I say this once and for all:

Basically, the CFR requires the contractors to book lowest priced whenever available to contractors. So for the CFR purpose, BE is included. However, given that many contractors use travel agents, so BE may not be available to travel agents. Hence, it is not required.

But if OP will book his/her travel via the public website of an airline or BE shows up to travel agents, then indeed OP has to book BE.
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Old Aug 26, 20, 7:17 pm
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BE fares are available to travel agencies and in Concur. The travel manager configures Concur (or other tool) to match the company policy. In many cases, due to the lack of flexibility, and small difference in fares, travel managers opt to hide the BE fares. Best to ask what the policy is on those fares.
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Old Aug 26, 20, 10:07 pm
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Thank you all for your insight. This is a new contract for me so I will try to get some clarity. These parameters will help frame the discussion.

Best,

David
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Old Aug 27, 20, 2:28 am
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS View Post
I work for a Government contractor. I don't think Basic Economy tickets even show when we search in Concur. It's never been an issue.
I am not understanding what a fare showing in Concur has to do with the federal regulation on fares.
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Old Aug 27, 20, 2:50 am
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Originally Posted by mvoight View Post
I am not understanding what a fare showing in Concur has to do with the federal regulation on fares.
Concur has the sole Federal contract for government booking. (Maybe not relevant here as a subcontractor...but that's the connection.)
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Old Aug 27, 20, 2:52 am
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Originally Posted by chrisny2 View Post
Concur has the sole Federal contract for government booking. (Maybe not relevant here as a subcontractor...but that's the connection.)
However, federal employees are normally expected/required to book government fares and these aren't basic economy.

If a private employer uses Concur, it might to might not show basic economy fares, depending on how the employer wanted Concur to be set up for their employees.
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Old Aug 27, 20, 7:03 am
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Conversely, does MCE/Economy Plus/Comfort+ count as regular Economy for this purpose?
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Old Aug 27, 20, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by msp3 View Post
Conversely, does MCE/Economy Plus/Comfort+ count as regular Economy for this purpose?
As the OP has elite status on AA, MCE will not be priced any differently than Economy (at least for domestic; not sure about international). It is a good question for others who do not have status and are flying on Uncle Sam's nickel.
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Old Aug 27, 20, 8:33 am
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Concur is simply compliance software used by an enrolled TA to assure compliance with the rules applicable to the traveler. It can be programmed anyway the employer (prime contractor / government agency / corporate) wants to program it. Thus, Concur will display and permit bookings in full F for those authorized to fly that fare basis and cabin. Similarly, it will display BE and similar fares if those are an option or are required.

It is not clear that OP, as a subcontractor to a prime contractor (which may have imposed its own rules above and beyond those required by the government agency, may use government rates (which would then not suffer BE-type restrictions).

I would discuss this with the prime contractor. Even if it is nominally required, I would also discuss (and carefully document) what it considers to be adequate justification & documentation for an exception.
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Old Aug 27, 20, 8:40 am
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The other thing is if you are checking luggage and BE costs you over and above for luggage

ie BE is $250 and $65 for luggage, but economy is $290 and you get the luggage for free or $25 - then both option are $315 total so, you can choose which one as it is the same price to the government
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Old Aug 27, 20, 10:07 am
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Originally Posted by la2clt View Post
BE fares are available to travel agencies and in Concur. The travel manager configures Concur (or other tool) to match the company policy. In many cases, due to the lack of flexibility, and small difference in fares, travel managers opt to hide the BE fares. Best to ask what the policy is on those fares.
Exactly; it is critical to check the company's policy. Some employers do not want their staff booking BE fares due to their severe restrictions and thus, no reason to book such rates if your company allows the lowest fare based on standard economy.
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