City Pair Program Fare Types Explained
What does "XCA", "YCA", and "_CA" mean?
There are lots of acronyms in the government world and the U.S. Government CPP (City Pair Program) is no exception. The most common acronyms you will encounter when learning about the City Pair Program have to do with the different types of fares available. This article will explain what each of these mean: XCA, YCA, _CA, BCA, and more!
In all of these acronyms "CA" means "Contact Award." This refers to the actual government contact being awarded to different airlines. Below we will
Unrestricted Coach Fares (YCA)
YCA is the three-letter code used to designate Unrestricted Coach Class contract fares for Government contract carriers. These are economy class tickets and are usually slightly more expensive than XCA fares (which we cover below).
The U.S. Government negotiates with the airlines for very flexible ticketing rules. "Unrestricted" fares means that every coach seat is available for sale and may be purchased for one-way travel. Unrestricted coach fares are fully refundable and not subject to capacity controls, ticketing time limits, advanced purchase requirements, minimum or maximum stay requirements, travel-time limits, blackout periods or penalties.
Capacity-Controlled Fares (XCA or _CA)
XCA and _CA are interchangeable and represent Capacity-Controlled Fares at deeply discounted tickets. These are the lowest possible fares but are not available on all flights. In addition, there are capacity limits associated with XCA fares. This means there are only a certain number of XCA fares available particular flights and throughout the year. Like YCA fares, XCA fares have no restrictions, blackout dates, etc. other than the number of seats.
The "X" and the "_" are actually placeholders for an airline-specific code. The first letter of the three-letter code will vary based upon the airline (e.g., QCA, LCA, etc.).
Government travelers are encouraged to book as early as possible to maximize the chance of receiving an XCA fare. It is also required in the Federal Travel Regulations that you try to get XCA fares when possible. There are some draw backs to XCA fares.
According to GSA.GOV some airlines have a seating preference given to full fare, "YCA" tickets. This means the cheaper _CA fares are likely to end up with less desirable seats in the middle row and in the back of the plane. When booking online, if you are only given a choice of middle seats, you are better off not making a selection until you arrive at the airport. On the day of travel airlines release some "premium" coach seats that were reserved for full fare, "YCA" tickets.
Business Class Fares
Business Class Fares, sometimes abbreviated BCA, are only permitted when they are the most economical option or if you meet certain agency-specific requirements and if "other than Coach Class service" has been authorized in accordance with Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) (§ 301-10.123). Essentially, these fares are only available for high-ranking government officials.
There are three fare types: Unrestricted (YCA), Capacity-Controlled (XCA, _CA, or -CA), and Business Class which is sometimes abbreviated BCA.
All of these fares provide flexible booking options including:
- No advance purchase required
- Consistently affordable prices
- 100% refundable
- No ticketing time limits
- No min or max stay requirements
- No travel-time limits
- No blackout dates or penalties
- Reduced airline fees
- Last seat availability
The only limitations are the flight specific and yearly passenger count limitations on Capacity-Controlled (XCA) fares.