Domestic Travel Policy (RMG 404)

Audience

This guide applies to officials of

guide applies to officials

Key points


Use of the best fare of the day

 

This guide sets out requirements for achieving value for money when selecting, booking and approving official domestic air travel.

Resources

Related resources including other guidance, links, publications, glossary terms and relevant legislation are located in the right hand menu.

For any queries, please contact us at woagtravel@finance.gov.au.

Policy

When undertaking official domestic air travel, officials must select the Lowest Practical Fare (LPF), which is the lowest fare available at the time the travel is booked on a regular service (not a charter flight), that suits the practical business needs of the traveller.

 

 

Guidance

Key considerations

Value for Money

To maximise value for money overarching consideration should be given when booking flights for domestic air travel. Value for money requires the use of Commonwealth resources in an efficient, effective, economical and ethical manner that is consistent with the policies of the Commonwealth and is reinforced through competitive decision making. 

Accordingly, when booking travel, officials must make decisions based on an impartial consideration of the fares available and not on a personal preference for a particular airline or aircraft type, access to airline lounges or accumulating airline reward and loyalty points (including status credits).
 

Necessity of Travel 

Air travel must only be undertaken where other communication tools, such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing, are ineffective. In approving travel, the delegate (the official approving domestic air travel) must be satisfied that there is a demonstrated business need for the travel.
 

Diligence

Officials must act in accordance with the internal travel policies of their entity and with the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. This includes acting reasonably in scheduling meetings or other events for which travel is considered necessary (for example, minimising unnecessary travel time).
 

Applying the Lowest Practical Fare policy

Officials must make 2 key decisions when selecting a fare for travel:

Fare class
  • All air travel must be the lowest practical fare in economy class unless there is a business case or entitlement to travel business class. If the relevant delegate approves business class travel where there is no entitlement, the reasons for travel in that class must be documented in each instance.
Fare type
  • Where there is a high degree of certainty for required arrival or departure times, officials must assess all fares and consider restricted fare types. Where there is a possibility that a scheduled meeting will not proceed, or there is uncertainty around the time that a scheduled meeting may conclude, officials must consider whether the additional cost of flexible fares outweighs the cost of possible changes or cancellation fees.

Officials are encouraged to compare fare classes and types across airlines servicing the particular route required. Each leg (outbound and inbound) is to be considered separately.
 

Booking considerations

Unused credits 

Where airfare credits exist, these need to be used for subsequent travel bookings to help reduce the fare cost where possible.
 

Lounge memberships 

The ability to access an airline lounge is not to be considered in applying the LPF policy.
 

Reward and loyalty points (including status credits) 

Implementation of the WoAG Travel Arrangements on 1 July 2010 ceased the accrual of reward and loyalty points (such as frequent flyer points); this requirement continues, and status credits may still be accrued. Where officials have retained previously accrued reward and loyalty points, these are to be used to reduce the cost of future flights required for official travel. It is Government policy that such points, where awarded for official travel, are not to be used for private purposes or to upgrade the class of official air travel.
 

Personal Travel 

The WoAG Travel Arrangements must not be used for stand-alone personal or leisure travel. Where personal or leisure travel is attached to official travel, officials are to refer to their entity’s internal controls for the requirements that apply.
 

Monitoring compliance

Officials must manage compliance with this LPF policy in accordance with their entity’s internal processes.

To assist entity officials in internal reporting against the LPF policy, the Travel Management Company (TMC) contracted under the WoAG Travel Arrangements uses a 1 hour ‘time window’ to monitor whether the lowest practical fare has been selected, and assess potential missed savings. This reporting is available to entities through the TMC.

For outbound flights, the window commences 1 hour prior to the booked flight time.

  • For example, an official based in Canberra is required to attend a meeting in Sydney at 10.30am. The official books a flight at 8.50am. The 1 hour window the TMC uses to compare flights starts at 7.50am and ends at 8.50am.

Therefore, if the flight to Sydney at 8.50am on airline A cost $200 and a flight to Sydney at 8.30am on airline B cost $150, the lowest practical fare is on airline B at 8.30am and the TMC will report missed savings of $50 to the official’s entity.

For inbound flights, the window commences 1 hour after to the booked flight time.
  • For example, an official returning to Canberra after a meeting in Sydney that is scheduled to conclude at 2.00pm. The official determines that the earliest possible departure time is 3.30pm and books a flight at 3.40pm. The 1 hour window the TMC uses to compare flights starts at 3.40pm and ends at 4.40pm.

Therefore, if the flight to Canberra at 3.40pm on airline A cost $200 and a flight to Canberra at 4.10pm on airline B cost $150, the lowest practical fare is on airline B at 4.10pm and the TMC will report missed savings of $50 to the official’s entity.

Lowest Practical Fare Booking Codes

When booking official domestic air travel, officials must identify the reason a fare is selected using the LPF Booking Codes in the table below. LPF Booking Codes 1 to 6 are compliant with the LPF policy.

The LPF Booking Codes

NoBooking CodeMap to LPF guidance
1Lowest fareThis is the cheapest available fare taking into account the
1 hour window (see above).
2Timing, routing, connection or baggage charges

Where the fare selected is not the lowest fare because it:

  • is the most direct route
  • ensures connections for further flights are met
  • takes into account excess baggage fees.
3Approval/Entitlement to travel at higher fare class (for example, business class or premium economy)

All air travel is to be at the lowest practical fare in economy class unless there is a business case or entitlement to travel outside these guidelines.

In these circumstances, officials are still required to obtain the lowest practical fare within the entitlement.

4Health issuesHealth issues for officials requiring certain facilities. A medical certificate is required to support use of this code.
5Personal responsibilitiesImpact on personal responsibilities such as family.
6Require flexibility to change bookingWhere flexibility is required for air travel, travel bookers must consider selecting a semi-flexible fare type instead of a fully flexible fare. 
7Outside of LPF policyPreference for particular aircraft or airlines, availability of access to airline lounges, accumulation of airline benefits such as reward or loyalty points (including status credits).

 


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