Do bloggers owe a duty to the community?

Yesterday I posted an example fuel dump (1X) that I discovered myself.* As I expected, I’ve received some hate mail and disparaging comments. You see, fuel dumping is a highly secretive concept that is covered in code on many forums. I’ve never been able to decipher the code, and have never benefitted from it. To state again, the fuel dump that I posted was found by me without the aid of others.

Since I found the fuel dump myself, I’m not bound to confidentiality as if someone gave the information to me. Readers email me all the time with interesting tricks. If the reader asks that I keep it confidential, I always have and always will (this creates an “underground” travel hacking community). But still, folks are mad. Some people believe that I’ve risked the trick being exposed to the airline and being unavailable for future use.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken flack from the travel hacking community. As a blogger, my job is to write about the tricks I know. Here’s the question: as a blogger, do I owe a duty to the community?

Without question, the travel hacking community has been the single most valuable resource for me to learn. I started off knowing absolutely nothing, and with the help of the community, I’ve become an expert. However, there’s plenty I’ve learned myself outside of the community, and have actively contributed to it. I’m not just a taker, but also a giver. I suspect most bloggers fit within this category, to varying degrees.

Bloggers and their blogs are not outside the community. They are an excellent resource for beginners to learn, and experts to easily follow what’s going on. In the sense that as a blog we belong within the community, we owe a duty to our comrades. However, our comrades include everyone along the spectrum of expertise. There are far more beginners than experts, but yet they are part of the community.

If I owe a duty to my comrades, what is the scope of that duty? Although I believe it includes a duty to protect the knowledge held by the community, I also see the duty as one to nurture and teach others. Everyone was a beginner at one point, and it is only with the help of others in the community that you become an expert.

Did my fuel dumping post breach that duty? I hid the relevant sector of the fuel dump so as to protect the integrity of the trick. Even with that safeguard, I still shed the limelight onto it, and as a result, I did hurt the viability of it. On the other hand, I believe I gave a good visual example to many on what a fuel dump looks like and what it can do. In that sense, I’ve helped others. You see, it’s a balancing act. If I teach a trick, more people know it and it’s more exposed, and it’s more likely to be shut down. However, if I don’t share it, then folks might never know about it. I believe that I acted appropriately in balancing my duty to the community by protecting the integrity of the construction and the desire to help others.

So yes, as a blogger, I have a duty to the community. The scope of that duty is to contribute, to protect, and to teach others. It’s a very fine balancing act, and it’s very easy to upset people if they believe that balance hasn’t tipped in their favour.

* Addendum: After I found the fuel dump, I went onto the FT forum and asked whether the 1X was skippable. I did not think it was skippable. The forum provided me with confirmation that it wasn’t skippable.

Comments

  1. Isn’t fuel dumping another form of theft or fraud? The same people who demand airlines honour fare glitch tickets because “they have a contract”, don’t fly the first or last segment that triggers the FD yet think nothing about not honouring the fulness of that contract. Let the flaming begin!

    • Yeah, maybe. However, it’s worth noting that many airlines set their restrictions and codes up properly, so nobody could ever FD on their flights. Other airlines have decided it’s not worth the expense of redoing it all properly, instead closing down the coding loopholes only when they’ve lost too much money on them.

      What’s more, it’s always the case that this only works on fares that have low base fare and high fuel surcharges. Those fuel surcharges are obviously bogus, especially now that oil market is near a historic bottom. Some airlines simply don’t charge a fuel surcharge, so they’re undumpable, but others keep it because that way they can award a “free ticket” while charging $500 in fuel fees to use it.

      So, when somebody manages to cut the price of their ticket from $800 to $300, it’s on an airline that is itself gaming the Fuel Surcharge to its advantage, and despite years of seeing passengers FD, still haven’t updated their sloppy methods of programming codes and restrictions.

  2. The problem is that you assume that people NEED to know about fuel dumping. Why?
    Second problem is that although you didn’t show the 1x this concept gets attention and more people will use it. The airlines won’t care if this is used by a restricted crowd but when it gets out of hand there will be consequences.

  3. You don’t owe anyone anything. Don’t listen to these idiots complaining about you outting their little trick. It’s so petty and so childish. As a blogger your job is to share what you know and hope that other people can learn from you. Post whatever you want. The last thing you should be caving into are FTers or other people who know the fuel dump tricks and just don’t want more people to know.

  4. I personally don’t care nor bother with FD, but I totally hate the idea of FT people hoarding it like secrets that others shouldn’t know about or even try to learn, because they want the best for themselves

    I see it no different than sharing mistake fares, or last year Milevalue(?) sharing the Lifemiles trick (this is probably the better analogy), that “eventually” killed the trick

    I’m sure airlines know about LM trick or FD, they just don’t bother to fix it

    Anyway, I am super happy you wrote about it to explain in simple concept. You’re the 1st blogger to write about it (and even hid it), that makes you unique, refreshing, and higher on my list to read 🙂 vs. other blogs who simply share the same thing (Uber referral, CC push, etc…)

    • dcta isn’t the first one to write about it. hackmytrip/travelcodex has a really good primer for folks just starting to get into fuel dumping. He wrote it back in 2012 but in most cases the concepts he shares in that blog post can still be applied today.

  5. Thank you for writing about it and more importantly, explaining it. I’ve tried for a long time (yes, I’m a senior and it takes me more time) to figure it out. Thank you. I’m tired of the FT people always complaining when a “secret” is exposed to the rest of us.

    • Okay, so the trick is exposed. From now on everyone can use it. Great. For at most two months, then all will be gone. Is this really what you want?

  6. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work. Ignore the childish FTers.

    Personally, I don’t have time to bother with fuel dumping, so I really don’t care if this glitch is fixed by the airlines. Besides, these fares generally require you to sit in COACH on international flights, and that ain’t gonna happen…

  7. You knew exactly what you were doing posting this. My biggest complaint is, did you come up with this your own? Nope. 95% of bloggers now just steal other’s ideas. If you have come up with a new and unique FD that isn’t on FT, then it’s fair game. To simply read threads and then copy and paste is shameful to the people who taught you to begin with.

    • As explicitly noted in the post, I figured this one out on my own. If it was previously posted on trick it, I have no clue (I can’t for the life of me decipher the code). Nobody has ever given me instruction, except for primer FD blog posts.

  8. You figured out a 1x… you still stole 95% of the idea from FT. Anyone who sits and searches long enough can find a 1x.

    What explicit, new, innovative ideas have you brought that were not already on FT or another blog?

  9. These last two posts sound like a tent with outsiders pissing in, and insiders pissing back out at the outsiders!

    There is a natural tension between the few in the know and the rest who don’t, but are learning or want to know. How has the community usually handled this in the past – condemn those learning and hope they don’t share, or co-opt them into the exclusive group on the promise they don’t?

    For my part, I don’t care to learn about Fuel dumping for the same reasons as others, having to fly long distance economy when it is already so easy and inexpensive to fly international first or business on points or mistake fares.

  10. Forget the FDers. You figured out the dump, it’s your intellectual property to do with as you wish. The airlines have shut down 99% of the dumps, and what you see now is a starved, stressed community turning on itself. Why else would they get so touchy about a single data point? Most of them would be further ahead collecting pop cans from highway ditches. Given how unprofitable FDing is, I can only assume most FDers don’t have the kind of credit rating needed to churn.

  11. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. In fact I am very happy that you have decide to share the trick with us!

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