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WN And GSA City Fare Program  
User currently offlineCrewchief From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2617 times:

I went to www.gsa.gov and checked out the GSA City Pair Program. Apparently airlines bid for government travel on different routes, and government employees have to travel on the winning carrier. I noticed that WN does not appear as a carrier on any of the routes listed, and I wonder why.

WN's Business Select seems to meet the government requirements for refundable fares, same day changes, and such. The frequencies are similar to the winning carrier on many routes, and the seat pitch provides a much higher level of comfort than the typical winning carrier. WN's lower load factor also means last minute government travelers have a better change of getting a seat on their first flight choice. Finally, WN's Business Select fares are even better on many routes than the winning carrier's fares. Three examples below (there are many others):

IAD-MDW: GSA Fare $485 (NW)
WN Business Select fare $209

IAD-SFO: GSA Fare $545 (UA)
WN Business Select Fare $340

IAD-SAN: GSA Fare $494 (UA)
WN Business Select Fare $400

So, here's the questions:

1) Why isn't WN listed as a winning bidder on any route? Did WN bid?

2) Why does the federal government waste our money by insisting that official travel be on higher cost carriers? (admittedly, that's a rhetorical question. I thought I'd pose it anyway because someone will rant on it)

Note: GSA fares above from http://apps.fas.gsa.gov/citypairs/search/

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBernsa From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 92 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2610 times:

Edited because I was WRONG.

[Edited 2008-04-17 16:10:17]

User currently offlineCrewchief From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2600 times:



Quoting Bernsa (Reply 1):
Well for starters the WN fares are One-Way

No, both fares are one-way. Something else is going on.


User currently offlineLuv2cattlecall From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1650 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2537 times:
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I've wondered the same; I have family that work at the VA in Hampton, VA and it's painful looking at how much they pay for air travel! If they were smart about it, in many cases, Business Select wouldn't even be necessary; just buy a "wanna get away" fare and cough up the difference if you need to change the ticket. The only way this would be a losing proposition is if you ended up canceling the trip...but you still don't "throw" the money away... An example was when they paid $1033 for a PHF - MCO flight even though WN had an ORF - MCO non-f..ing-stop for $329.

I really like the private companies that have a quoted fare and hotel cost, but will split the savings 50/50 with the employees if they are willing to stay at a less expensive hotel, take a redeye flight or go on another airline...etc.

I guess you can look at it as an indirect subsidy for airlines though.



When you have to breaststroke to your connecting flight...it's a crash!
User currently offlineCberflyer From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2482 times:

1) The government contract fares quoted are fully refundable, unrestricted tickets, bookable and changeable until the very day of travel assuming seat availability. Are the fares quoted on WN equally unrestricted?

2) Agencies have leeway to allow for bookings on alternate carriers (or even the contract carrier) if a cost savings vs. the contract fare is available, according FTR paragraph 301-10.107(c).

3) WN may not have bid on any of the pairs you mention.

4) Try quoting some of those from DCA instead of IAD. You'll find the city-pair fares on some routes are a LOT lower. Policy at my agency is to always check all three Washington airports for any trip. Whichever airport has the cheapest contract fare, that's where the traveler flies out of, even if it means using connecting flights. Examples:

DCA-SFO: $211 (or $176 capacity controlled)
DCA-SAN: $224 (or $187 capacity controlled)
DCA-MDW: no contract, may use any commercial available fare (or use DCA-ORD: $88 one way)

Each of these is lower than WN, and at a much more convenient airport to likely a majority of DC-based federal travelers (or at least no worse than going to IAD).


User currently offlineCrewchief From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 2376 times:



Quoting Cberflyer (Reply 4):
1) The government contract fares quoted are fully refundable, unrestricted tickets, bookable and changeable until the very day of travel assuming seat availability. Are the fares quoted on WN equally unrestricted?

My comparison is to WN's Business Select fares. From my reading, the answer to your question is "yes". Can you find any reason why the Business Select, or Business Fare, for that matter, are more restrictive?

Quoting Cberflyer (Reply 4):
2) Agencies have leeway to allow for bookings on alternate carriers (or even the contract carrier) if a cost savings vs. the contract fare is available, according FTR paragraph 301-10.107(c).

And this is implemented in a fashion to discourage any employee from attempting to save the government money -- i.e. getting a manager's permission, mandating the employee get a quote from the agency's contract travel agency, etc.

Quoting Cberflyer (Reply 4):
3) WN may not have bid on any of the pairs you mention.

Thus the first question I asked: Did WN bid on any of the routes?

Quoting Cberflyer (Reply 4):
4) Try quoting some of those from DCA instead of IAD. You'll find the city-pair fares on some routes are a LOT lower.

Because WN does not fly to DCA, I can't make fare comparisons out of DCA. To address the larger point, I only claimed that SOME WN Business Select city pair fares were less than the GSA fares, I never claimed that ALL were lower. I gave some examples that went to and from the same airports. Other examples from other airports exists, you can look them up for yourself. I gave the URLs.

Quoting Cberflyer (Reply 4):
Each of these is lower than WN, and at a much more convenient airport to likely a majority of DC-based federal travelers (or at least no worse than going to IAD).

I fail to see your point. First, SOME employees have IAD as a more convenient airport and can save the government money by going to that airport and taking WN. Second, as stated above, my questions were never focused exclusively on IAD -- IAD was only offered as an example, and similar examples exist at other airports. Third, the GSA offers city pairs by airport, not city, so comparisons from the same airport are valid.


User currently offlineChris133 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 303 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 2315 times:



Quoting Crewchief (Reply 5):
Each of these is lower than WN, and at a much more convenient airport to likely a majority of DC-based federal travelers (or at least no worse than going to IAD).

That couldn't be farther from the truth. Having worked at BWI i can tell you that we get everything from Secret Service to Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and even 3 Star Generals flying on WN. That was before WN operated out of IAD as well.


User currently offlineThreeIfByAir From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 675 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2265 times:



Quoting Crewchief (Thread starter):
So, here's the questions:

1) Why isn't WN listed as a winning bidder on any route? Did WN bid?

2) Why does the federal government waste our money by insisting that official travel be on higher cost carriers? (admittedly, that's a rhetorical question. I thought I'd pose it anyway because someone will rant on it)

WN probably didn't bid those pairs. CO AFAIK doesn't bid anything which really bites if your office is in Houston.

There is a document (can't find it at the moment) that details all sorts of specific information on the GSA's criteria for carrier selection. Nonstop flights are preferred, there is a maximum circuity allowed depending on the nonstop distance (longer distances allow greater circuity), jet flights are preferred to turboprops, etc.

The factor that dooms some nonstops from getting GSA consideration is that a certain number of flights are required each day, at specific times of the day. Most importantly, redeyes are not desirable and double connections are not allowed for most Lower 48 pairs. WN doesn't have tons of nonstops in certain markets, and may not have "sufficient" service on some routes. Remember, WN's model is to fly passengers nonstop - connections are losing WN money because it could have sold that seat twice, so it might not bid some of the longer routes. IAD-MDW is a strange one - I have no idea.

I have found some instances from the FY07 contract where airlines didn't apparently bid certain pairs despite meeting the GSA req's. When the yield on the contract fare is ~$0.30/mile, I have no idea why other airlines do not bid.

As for why Uncle Sam wastes our money... not even going there.


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