Airfare Pricing ‘Trick’ to Drop Fuel Surcharges from International Tickets is No More

‘Fuel dumps’ on international airline tickets are apparently dead. For some time it has been possible to push down the price of an airline ticket by getting pricing engines to ticket without fuel surcharges, which in some cases can be as much as $400. It’s a great savings, and there have been various techniques for accomplishing this.

This Flyertalk thread has attracted about 4800 posts over the past year and a half about dropping fuel surcharges from tickets, and fleshing out the techniques. Many of the posts are ‘in code’, referring to booking tickets on Priceline as “negotiating” (William Shatner is ‘The Negotiator’…).

In that thread, folks are blaming Airfare Watchdog who outlined one of the more popular techniques in a blog post yesterday, detailing adding throwaway segments to Canada to the end of a ticket to drop fuel surcharges.

(I made an oblique reference to this technique about a month ago.)

The consensus view is summed up by Lucky:

[H]ours after the article was posted, fuel dumping was no more.

On one hand there are all kinds of nasty names I’d like to call AirFareWatchdog, and I’m not alone… At the same time, how the hell did it take the airlines two years to figure this out? Frankly, I thought they just had no way of preventing this, but the fact that they pulled it hours after the article was published suggests that’s not the case. Are they really that oblivious?

Either way, AirFareWatchdog, shame on you…

But it seems odd to me that when there’s a Flyertalk thread with 5000 posts one would blame a blog post for getting the word out and spurring action that shut down this technique.

And I can’t imagine that the technique could get shut down in a matter of a few hours, I have to believe that the fix was in the works already. My personal guess is coincidence.

Either way, one of the really great airfare pricing tricks appears at least at the moment to be no more.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t like coincidences. The end of this loophole almost immediately after it made a blog, got syndicated, and hit Twitter all in plain English is just too coincidental for me.

    Yes, there was a long thread about it but it’s clear that effort needed to be made to understand it. Because many on the internet have a short attention span not a huge number put effort into figuring it out. Make it easy for hundreds to thousands and away it seems to have gone.

    Having said that, we just pick up and move on to the next big thing. Only a matter of time. Deals, unadvertised “tricks” and other fare / mile busting methods always manage to come and go if we look at history. So I patiently wait. 🙂

  2. That thread is long but most of it was ancient/irrelevant at the time of this event. It was a compilation of many things, most of which died out over time.

  3. I disagree with your diagnosis. While there was a thread on FT, it was not in public view (I would appreciate if you can remove the link), and coded language made it hard even for many FT’ers to decipher. AFWD spelled out everything in a few paragraphs. One could make the case that AFWD is also obscure, but the blog was lifted to Yahoo and linked on Facebook and Twitter.

    Airlines may have known about it, but were content to let it slide as long as: (1) It was less expensive to sell a few cheap tickets than to fix the problem. (2) They were occupied with other pressing problems. (3) The issue was coasting under radar, causing no embarrassment to people and departments. With publicity, their bread and butter sales were threatened, and people/departments were embarrassed and had to act.

  4. Did it ever occur to you that maybe Hobica considers himself part of the aviation “industry”? His site promotes “published” fares. Of course he’s against you doing anything that’s not published. It’s boomers such as himself who are responsible for the horrible conditions, and now he walks around dropping hints that everyone (besides himself) is cheap after having flowing several million miles. Eh Loser.

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