FARE ALERT $283 Roundtrip DC – Dubai, Great Illustration of a Money-Saving Trick

The major reason I’m writing about this fare is because it’s super interesting. With more and more airfare flash sales you can take advantage of, it’s often the case that the fare itself is almost zero and the airline is only making money on ‘fuel surcharges’ — junk fees that make no sense at all in a world of cheap oil.

Some airlines have given up calling them fuel surcharges, the Department of Transportation says if an airline is going to charge separately then the fee has to track the actual cost of fuel. So they just use the phrase “carrier-imposed surcharges,” in other words literally a fee for nothing other than that the fee is charged.

I’ve written in the past that it’s sometimes possible to make fuel surcharges disappear from an airfare.

Usually this involves two different airlines in an itinerary that don’t have interline fuel surcharge agreements so they’d have split revenue on the basis of IATA’s BSP settlement tables. Those tables are country-specific. Some routes, on some airlines, aren’t fully updated correctly in some country BSP tables. So combining two different airlines that don’t have those interline agreements, ticketed correctly, can cause pricing engines not to include fuel surcharges in the price of the ticket.

This is colloquially referred to as a ‘fuel dump’. At one point it might have involved booking an Air Canada ticket to and from Europe on Expedia’s Spanish website, and adding an intra-Saudia Arabia segment at the end of the itinerary that you never intended to fly.

But here we have a super interesting fare because Star Alliance member and United partner Ethiopian Airlines will sell you a deep deep discounted ticket to Dubai without most of its usual fuel surcharges by adding one of its own flights at the end.

Burj Al Arab Hotel
Burj Al Arab Hotel

Using multi-city search, look for:

  • Washington Dulles – Dubai
  • Dubai – Washington Dulles
  • Lilongwe – Blantyre

Using multi-city search

Key things to know about Ethiopian’s TLPRUS fare:

  • Travel permitted April 16 through April 30, August 13 through August 31, September 10 through November 30, and January 15 through March 31.
  • The fare is valid through March 31 — but is likely to be pulled before then.
  • It has a $300 change fee, and is cancellable for $350 – hah!
  • 4 day minimum stay, 3 month maximum stay

The fare is $74.50 each way plus taxes and by spending $13.15 for the intra-African segment you drop what’s normally over $500 in fuel surcharges. Since it’s an airline’s own flight causing the issue, it’s known as a ‘self-dump.’

Key things to know about Ethiopian's TLPRUS fare

Just in case Ethiopian decides they want to renege on such a deep discount offer, a case of seller’s remorse, I’d awhile after buying tickets before making additional non-refundable travel plans around the fare. (In theory an airline refusing to honor a sale would have to reimburse any out of pocket costs you incurred but there’s not much history with enforcement of that particular DOT statement so I’d still not test it.)

Al Maha Desert Resort
Al Maha Desert Resort

(HT: James F.)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 can say from experience that ET may give you the shakedown in Addis if you try to actually fly this. Be careful.

  2. Wtf Gary… these things are not to be posted on blogs. It’ll be dead in a heartbeat and now everybody who put in work to find it themselves is screwed. It’s only a matter of time before these are all gone and blog posts like this, mostly read by people who’ll never fly it, only accelerate that process.

  3. Congratulations on ruining a very valuable deal.

    The fact that you posted this in the open is enough to ruin any chance of your readers being able to actually fly it, and clearly illustrates that you have no interest in actually helping them.

    For anyone thinking of booking this then I would urge to you read the following post relating to the last time one of these was posted in the open which was taken from another forum well known for expertise in this area


    Earlier today I was booked to travel on what I considered a “Safe” Itinerary on an airline that we all know about lately. An added leg for those that aren’t quick enough to figure it out.
    As always, I played by all the rules, I have not spoken to the airline, I used online check-in, I did not attempt to check bags.
    I was in the departure lounge before departure, I was paged and requested to come to the desk. At this point I was told by an airline representative named Simon (They weren’t exactly clear about their position with the airline, and did not offer a last name when I asked) that as my ticket was purchased fraudulently and did not follow their terms and conditions, I would need to pay the surcharge if I wanted to fly, this is in addition to a rebooking fee on top as they would need to reissue my ticket.
    It should be noted also that the representative had also requested airport security to be present for out “chat”
    My ticket cost went from €200 to over €1000 in the space of 2 minutes.
    I am now out of pocket that €200 and the hotel costs for my stay in Asia.
    I fully understand that there is always risk in FD tickets, but this trick has been used many times by myself and others that I speak with, no one has ever had a problem. This is obviously a direct result of the recent exposure, which has bordered on insanity.
    The game isn’t changing, it has already changed!

  4. The comments here are HILARIOUS. I bet we have the same person commenting under multiple names, too.

    You can’t have it both ways, first claiming this deal doesn’t work and second claiming the deal is so good and it’s terrible it’s being shared and not kept to a small group of people. It’s one or the other, not both.

    Whenever hidden deals are written about there are always people who come out of the woodwork to complain and spread misinformation. This is one that’s being discussed pretty openly on Flyertalk, on Facebook, and several other places.

    And the story above about one person denied boarding is from a year ago and unverified, people have still been booking these fares.

  5. thank you for sharing this gary, ignore the naysayers, they don’t own all the best information out there for their little club.

  6. Gary — Put it this way. Don’t try to stay at an IHG again. I have some powerful connections with that owners association.

  7. You can post many things but posting the FD stuff just makes you look desperate to seek big headlines for yourself at no consideration of potential cost to the community.

  8. heck secret flying’s post on this fare is much more detailed going into ny-bkk as wel

  9. Just booked EWR-ADD-PVG-ADD-EWR(+LLW-BLZ) in November for $263.28… Thanks so much for the post!!

  10. You seem to be a short sighted, self-important, greedy jerk…with NO work ethic…. Hope to meet you some day in the subway, under a train !!

  11. Lots of criticisms you can make of Gary hahahahaha but lack of work ethic definitely isn’t one of them

  12. Gary sad to say now that you and everyone else (Secretflying.com was all over this yesterday) broke this story, it would be extremely easy for Ethiopian to do a quick search for all tickets with a third leg involving Lilongwe or even the infamous allegedly vampire-infested city of Blantyre.

    A lot of people will be highly disappointed when their tickets are cancelled or worse when they are potentially shaken down in Addis for hundreds of dollars to complete their journeys on ordinary fare tickets.

  13. Really want to give you round of applause on this on Gary.

    This deal has worked for years without fail, and in the space of 24 hours you managed to kill it.

    Bravo sir, Bravo. You really are one of the worlds foremost experts on all things flying.

    To anyone that wants an insight into how your tickets will be handled just search for past “deals” that Ethiopian Airlines has cancelled in the past.
    I wish you luck.

  14. The commentators blasting Gary for having let the cat out of the bag are apparently members of a secret cabal. Not being a member, these blogs would be the only way to learn about these weird angles – so rather than lambaste Gary why don’t they tell us how they learned about these tricks without ruining them for others! Or in simple terms: put up or shut up!

  15. Love it. Once again FFGL has nothing to write about so he steals it from somewhere else. He at least for the first time in yea QQrs it’s an accurate non click bait title.

  16. This discussion is very reminiscent of a debate in the advantage gambling community 20 years ago. Those who worked hard to find opportunities were upset and angry that others published those opportunities, leading to their termination, either directly because casino personnel read about them, or indirectly as the additional people using the opportunity drew attention to it.

    The current situation in that world is that opportunities are far fewer than they used to be, as the casinos became educated about how to view and analyze opportunities that advantage players seek; and the opportunities that do arise are rarely published.

  17. Not sure if anyone will be willing to share with a naive newbie like me…i’ve booked plenty of deals, but never a dump, I booked this one, without knowing the downside unfortunately (a friend just texted me the details and I was unfamiliar with the practice so didn’t know it was actually illegal and the high risk. not sure if it matters but the flight was not nearly as significantly disc ounted as the above it was $950 SFO>DAR (was about 1450 without the 3rd dump leg). so basically i am wondering, is there any guidance on what to do NOW? because I didn’t pay $200 if i have to tack on 1000s more or get stuck in Ethiopia its going to suck. so the questions is, is there anything I can do in advance to make sure this doesn’t happen, call the airline and “turn myself in” so they cancel the ticket? delete the 3rd leg so it becomes valid?

    please dont reply to lambaste me about the idiocy of making this purchase without full knowledge of the risk, i already agree 🙂

  18. All of you clowns complaining sound like little girls. You sound so entitled to think that information can be spread to only who you deem worthy. Get off of your high horses and please STFU!!!!!

  19. @KenB

    don’t do anything…don’t call the airline….just make it worse for you and the others who bought…my advice is plan for the worst (stuck)…advice…don’t prepay any other trip related expenses AND make sure you have plenty of star alliance miles to get yourself out of a sticky situation….i’m giving this deal a shot too, so this is what i am doing…and have always done.

  20. also…avoid all human interaction as much as possible…do web check in only, do NOT check a bag etc

  21. thanks bigdaddyK, however i’ve read all the tips for a normal fuel dump, i was looking for tips on what to do now that this out in the open. i’m actually more interested in getting it cancelled and paying full price, than having to risk the “shake down” scenarios. i already have pre-paid costs for the trip (had them prior to booking the flight) so bit of a rock and hard place. i dont use star alliance miles. i dont personally think calling the airline is going to put anyone else’s ticket at risk, it could not be more well-known at this point, but i’m also not going to do that for no reason…

  22. Anyone have any experience with this…I received a confirmation and my credit card was charged. Initially, when I searched Ethiopian Airlines website I found all the information for my trip including payment info. Now when I search it still finds the itinerary and seat assignments, etc, but the payment stuff is blank. Does this mean they might be in the processing of canceling my reservation? Or are they now saying payment is incomplete or something to this point?

  23. Thanks, Gary… as others have commented, because of articles like exactly this one, my trip to Thailand was cancelled. The whole budget friendly idea of a fuel dump is it goes unnoticed and isn’t loudly advertised/shared to the masses. Ethiopian Airlines has cancelled every flight that has that third leg to Blantyre. Those of you defending Gary: you’re part of the problem.

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