Thanks to the brilliant minds at airfarewatchdog.com, the fuel dump is no more.
For those unaware of what a "fuel dump" is, it is removing the fuel surcharge from a fare–often more than $200-300.
There were many ways to do this and it worked for many airlines, but the easiest method was by adding a segment to Canada or Mexico from the United States at the end of a fare. You paid for the o/w way flight, often only about $70 for a flight from SFO/SEA to YVR or JFK to YYZ, but it removed the full fuel surcharge, saving you quite a bit of $.
Airfarewatchdog decided to write an article on how to utilize the fuel dump and posted it prominently on its website. Hours after their posting, the fuel dump trip vanished. The irony is airfarewatchdog’s response to consumer outcry. They tweeted this after receiving a great deal of negative feedback:
Do you really think it’s ethical to cheat airlines out of revenue considering how many billions they’re losing?
Such hypocrisy is shameful. Just hours earlier, they advocated "cheating" the airlines and laid out exactly how to do it. The title of their article:
Want to make your international fuel surcharge magically disappear? Here’s a trick
…Since the random flight is at the end of the itinerary you have the choice of whether to fly that flight or not at some future date. It will not affect the rest of the itinerary in any way. If you do this once and don’t fly that last segment, chances are nothing will happen. However if you use this strategy repeatedly, and your airline calls you out on it, they may relieve you of your frequent flier miles, so you might want to not use your frequent flyer number. There are many different ways of manuevering the fare system. This is just one. Doing this involves some trial and error, but in the end it might be worth your time. We’ve found this method works well on Expedia, Priceline, and United’s own website.
So after realizing what fools they were for posting that info, they removed it from their site and now chastise those who took advantage of it? Shameful.
I took advantage of the "fuel dump" on a few United trips, including my mileage run to Moscow earlier this year. But I flew the Canadian segments of my trip (remember, I lost my camera in YVR last month) and purchased a o/w ticket from YVR-LAX to get me back home. So, I saved about $150, but I spent over $800 to occupy a seat that would have gone out empty anyway. My IAD-DME-IAD flights were lightly filled–in fact, I had an open seat next to me in Business Class on the return. My LAX-SFO-YVR-DEN-LAX flights also had plenty of space, including open seats in First Class on every flight. I do not like be labeled a cheat by helping UA fill up seats that otherwise would go empty.
Some FTers have reported that other forms of the fuel dump are still operable, but I have yet to figure them out. When I do, you won’t see them reported here unless airfarewatchdog decides to engage in puerility again!
It was nice while it lasted. The fact that the trick was eliminated immediately after its existence for two years (and frequent discussion on Flyertalk.com) leads me to conclude that the "trick" was known, but left alone until too many people started taking advantage of it.