Official International Travel – Use of the best fare of the day (RMG 405)

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 international 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 international travel, officials must select the International Best Fare (IBF), which is the lowest fare available on the day the travel is booked on a regular scheduled service (not a charter flight), that suits the practical business needs of the traveller and maximises overall value for money for the total cost of the trip.
 

 

Guidance

Key considerations

Value for Money

To maximise value for money for the cost of international air travel, officials are encouraged to consider the following in the IBF calculation. 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

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


Safety

Under no circumstances is this guide to be read as requiring officials to use airlines with a poor industry reputation for safety. Information on aviation safety and security is available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) Smartraveller website.


Approval of the need to travel

Officials should refer to their entity’s internal controls (for example, Accountable Authority Instructions) for the approval requirements that apply to international travel.


Class of Travel

In booking flights for inbound and outbound international travel and travel within an international country, officials are required to select a business class or equivalent class or lower class airfare.
 

Applying the International Best Fare

Value for Money

To maximise value for money for the cost of international air travel, officials are encouraged to consider in the IBF calculation:

  • the value of any baggage allowances, and complimentary inclusions such as chauffeur/coach drive services or pre-departure accommodation offered by airlines
  • any additional costs for accommodation, meals, ground transport, baggage and incidentals associated with the 24-hour window
  • the cost of lost employee wages associated with lost work time where appropriate
  • for outbound flights, the cost of flights that leave within a 24-hour window before the latest possible departure flight (that is, the latest flight that will enable the traveller to meet their overseas commitments)
  • for inbound flights, the cost of flights that leave within a 24-hour window after the earliest practical return flight.

The 24-hour window is not intended to restrict or limit the use of fares outside of this timeframe that may maximise value for money.

Where entity controls allow for rest periods, these rest periods should be incorporated within the 24-hour window to the extent possible.

To assist entity officials in internal reporting against use of the IBF, the Travel Management Company (TMC) contracted under the Whole of Australian Government (WoAG) Travel Arrangements applies the 24-hour window to the booked flight time from the point of departure to monitor whether the international best fare has been selected. This reporting is available to entities through the TMC.


TMC transaction fees 

TMC transaction fees and WoAG administration fees are not to be included in the estimated cost of travel submitted for approval of the IBF calculation.
 

Booking considerations

Airlines 

A panel of international airlines has been contracted under the WoAG Travel Arrangements. These airlines offer highly competitive fares, increased baggage allowances, reduced or removed fees for changes to fares, more flexible fare conditions, and some complimentary fare inclusions.
 

WoAG Travel Arrangements - Contracted Airlines

Air New ZealandGaruda Indonesia
Air NiuginiLATAM Airlines
British AirwaysQantas Airways (including Jetstar)
Cathay Pacific AirwaysQatar Airways
China Eastern AirlinesRegional Express
EmiratesRoyal Brunei Airlines
Etihad AirwaysSingapore Airlines
Fiji AirwaysThai Airways
FinnairVirgin Australia


Airfare quotes 

Unless a limited number of airlines (that is, 1 or 2) service a particular route, officials are to obtain 3 quotes for airfares from at least 2 different airlines for the same or equivalent fare class. Officials are encouraged to use the contracted airlines on a value for money basis however, officials are not restricted to using these airlines.


Booking strategies 

Strategies that can be considered to optimise value for money in booking airfares include booking as far in advance as possible, being flexible with times, using less flexible tickets, and looking at different routes to the final destination. Officials are encouraged to advise the WoAG TMC of key business needs, for example, direct routing or excess baggage requirements.


Lounge memberships 

Airline lounge membership is not to be considered in applying the IBF.


Accommodation 

Officials are encouraged to book any accommodation associated with international travel through the WoAG TMC using the Diners Club payment facility, (the virtual account and/or the in-hand Diners card or MasterCard). The most cost effective accommodation is to be selected that is, a room rather than a suite.


Unused credits

Where travel is not taken and unused credits exist, officials must consider selecting the IBF for any subsequent bookings and then apply any unused credits to reduce the fare price.


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.
 

International travel considerations

Health and safety

Where considered necessary, officials are encouraged to seek personal medical advice before undertaking international travel. Vaccinations may be necessary for some destinations. Officials are encouraged to also familiarise themselves with any internal entity policies regarding health and safety while on official business. 

Further advice on health and safety, including country specific advice, is available from DFAT's Smartraveller

Officials are advised to also refer to the travel cover policy in the Comcover Statement of Cover.


‘Through’ fares

Officials are encouraged to book ‘through’ fares rather than separate domestic and international tickets. 

For example, a Canberra to London ticket rather than a Canberra to Sydney ticket and a separate Sydney to London ticket.

Selecting ‘through’ fares allows baggage to be checked through to the final destination, provides the TMC and relevant airlines with oversight of connections for the entire trip, and generally results in better value for money outcomes.


Register the trip

Prior to leaving Australia, officials are encouraged to register the details of their official international travel with DFAT.
 

Booking Codes

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


The IBF Booking Codes

No

Booking Code

Map to LPF guidance

1

Lowest fare

This is the cheapest available fare taking into account the 24 Hour booking window.

2

Timing, routing, connections, baggage allowances, value-adds, 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

  • includes baggage allowances or value-adds offered by WoAG contracted airlines

  • takes into account excess baggage fees.

3

Approval / Entitlement to travel at higher fare class

All air travel is to be at the international best fare in the appropriate class (having regard to internal travel policy) unless there is a business case or entitlement to travel outside these guidelines.

In these circumstances, officials are still required to obtain the international best fare within the entitlement.

4

Health issues

Health issues for officials requiring certain facilities. A medical certificate is required to support use of this code.

5

Personal responsibilities

Impact on personal responsibilities such as family.

6

Require flexibility to change booking

Where flexibility is required for air travel, travel bookers must consider selecting a semi-flexible fare type instead of a fully flexible fare.

7

Outside of IBF policy

Preference for particular aircraft or airlines, availability of access to airline lounges, accumulation of airline benefits such as reward or loyalty points (including status credits).

Monitoring compliance

Officials are responsible for managing compliance with the IBF policy in accordance with their entity's internal processes. 

Choosing the International Best Fare

Below are 4 examples of how to choose the International Best Fare (IBF).

It is mandatory that an IBF Booking Code be provided at the time of booking official international air travel (see above).

 

An official is travelling from City A in Australia to City B overseas. 3 quotes have been obtained with different airlines for the same or equivalent fare class and fare type and similar total travel time.

Airline A is selected because the fare is the lowest fare.

The official therefore uses Booking Code 1.

QuoteAirlineCity PairingTotal Travel TimePriceFare SelectedBooking Code
1.Airline ACity A – City B20 hours$8,000

X

1

2.Airline BCity A – City B19 hours$9,500  
3.Airline CCity A – City B21 hours$9,000  

An official is travelling from City C in Australia to City F overseas. 3 quotes have been obtained from the TMC with different airlines for the same or equivalent fare class and fare type and similar total travel time.

Airline B is selected because the fare is the most direct route to City F and the lowest fare that meets the practical business needs of the official.

The official therefore uses Booking Code 2.

QuoteAirlineCity PairingTotal Travel TimePriceFare SelectedBooking Code
1.Airline ACity C – City D - City F30 hours$9,500  
2.Airline BCity C – City F25 hours$10,000

X

2

3.Airline CCity C – City E – City F29 hours$11,000  
Note: In this example, potential missed savings of $500 would be reported by the TMC to reflect the difference between the lowest fare available and the fare selected.

An official is travelling from City H in Australia to City I overseas. 3 quotes have been obtained with different airlines for the same or equivalent fare class and fare type and similar total travel time.

Airline B includes a complimentary chauffeur drive service and is selected because the overall cost is the lowest. That is, taxi fares that would otherwise be required (home to airport and airport to hotel) have an estimated value of $250. When this value is taken into account with the airfare, the total cost is lower than the other quoted airfares that do not include a complimentary chauffeur drive service. 

The official therefore uses Booking Code 2.

QuoteAirlineCity PairingTotal Travel TimePriceFare SelectedBooking Code
1.Airline ACity H – City I19 hours$9,900  
2.Airline BCity H – City I20 hours

$10,000

(with free chauffeur drive)

X

2

3.Airline CCity H – City I21 hours$10,500  

An official is travelling from City K in Australia to City L overseas. 3 quotes have been obtained from the TMC with different airlines for the same or equivalent fare class and fare type and similar total travel time.

Airline C is selected because the official has a preference for Airline C regardless of whether the fare meets the official's practical business needs. The fare selected is not compliant with the IBF.

The official therefore uses Booking Code 7.

QuoteAirlineCity PairingTotal Travel TimePriceFare SelectedBooking Code
1.Airline ACity K – City L25 hours$9,500  
2.Airline BCity K –City L24 hours$10,500  
3.Airline CCity K – City L27 hours$11,000

X

7

Note: In this example, potential missed savings of $1,500 would be reported by the TMC to reflect the difference between the lowest fare available and the fare selected. 

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