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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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SMG 2343.3





Mandatory Use of Contract City-Pair Fares

Effective Date: 08/03/2009

[PDF Version]

 1. Purpose
 2. Background
 3. Reference
 4. Policy
 5. Responsibilities
 6. Effective Date
 7. History


This guide establishes the policy for the use of both frequent traveler benefits earned while on official government travel and the mandatory use of contract city fare pairs.


FDA policy is consistent with  S. 1438, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002. Section 1116 of this law enacted on December 28, 2001, allows employees to retain promotional items for personal use, including frequent flyer miles, earned on official government travel.


Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) (41 CFR 301-53)

DHHS Travel Regulation Chapter 3, Section 3.4.2

FTR 301-73.102, Mandatory use of Travel Management Service

FTR 301-10.107 and 301-10.108, Mandatory Use of Contract City-Pair Fares


A. General Policy

An FDA traveler who receives a promotional items, such as frequent flyer miles, upgrades or access to carrier clubs as a result of using travel or transportation services at Federal Government expense, or accepted under Title 31, U.S.C. 1353 (HHS-348 Travel Acceptance) may retain the promotional item for personal use if the item is obtained under the same conditions as those offered to the general public at no additional cost to the Federal Government. All federal travelers should be aware that the frequent flyer program is an incentive program operated by an  airline to reward customers for their continued loyalty. Travelers should contact their most frequently used airline to find out more about this program.

It is the responsibility of the employee to establish and manage his/her frequent travel promotional benefits account. In addition, any associated costs of maintaining these accounts are to be paid by the employee and are not reimbursable by the Food and Drug Administration.

Reference  www.gsa.gov for additional information.

B. Upgrades to Business Class when on Official Government Travel

Employees may use frequent traveler benefits or promotional materials earned on official travel to obtain travel services for a subsequent official travel assignment(s) or retain such benefits for personal use, including upgrading to a higher class of service. Employees may not select or choose a travel service provider based on whether it provides frequent traveler benefits or to gain frequent traveler benefits for personal use. FDA Approving Officials may not authorize the purchase of a higher cost ticket from the Travel Management Service for the purpose of enabling an employee to apply their frequent flyer miles for upgraded seating. When redeeming frequent traveler benefits or promotional materials for subsequent official travel, the employee must comply with governing Federal travel regulations, such as the mandatory use of the travel management service and contract city-pair fare.

C. Mandatory Use of Contract City-Pair Fares

All travelers must use a contract city-pair fare (a listing of contract city-pair fares is available at  www.gsa.gov) for scheduled air passenger transportation service unless one of the limited exceptions listed below is met. The employee is personally liable for any additional costs or penalties incurred resulting from unauthorized use of non-contract service.

a. Space on a scheduled contract flight is not available in time to accomplish the purpose of travel, or use of contract service would require the traveler to incur unnecessary overnight lodging costs which would increase the total cost of the trip;

b. The contractor’s flight schedule is inconsistent with explicit policies of the FDA with regard to scheduling travel during normal working hours;

c. A non-contract carrier offers a lower fare to the general public that, if used, will result in a lower total trip cost to the Government (the combined costs of transportation, lodging, meals, and related expenses considered); It is HHS policy that travel authorizing officials may not approve use of a non‑contract fare under this exception unless the cost saving on the non-contract fare ticket will be at least 40 percent of the total cost of the contract fare (i.e., the ticket price is 60 percent of the contract fare or less). The cost savings computation must be indicated on the travel authorization.

d. Cost effective rail service is available and is consistent with mission requirements; or

e. Smoking is permitted on the contract air carrier and the nonsmoking section of the contract aircraft is not acceptable to you.

Exceptions to these regulations may be found in FTR 301-73.102, Mandatory use of Travel Management Service, and FTR 301-10.107 and 301-10.108, Mandatory Use of Contract City-Pair Fares. (Note that if an employee is redeeming a free round-trip frequent-flyer ticket for use on official business travel, at no cost to the Government, an exemption permits use of a non-contract city-pair carrier.)


The immediate office or other designated office of the traveler shall prepare all necessary travel documents associated with the approval of the travel. Each Center/Office Delegated Approving Official shall authorize the travel authorization and travel voucher.


This delegation was signed by William Collinson, Acting Director – Office of Financial Management, effective August 3, 2009.

7. Document History -- SMG 2343.3, Using Frequent Travel Benefits - Mandatory Use of Contract City-Pair Fares  

Initial08/03/2009N/aOC/OO/OM/OFMWilliam Collinson, Acting Director, OFM