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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions *now with WikiPost* {pre-2015 Archive}

UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions *now with WikiPost* {pre-2015 Archive}

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Old Aug 11, 15, 9:02 am   -   Wikipost
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This wiki was created to distill SDC (specifically not standby) down to a set of rules in the hopes of benefiting others.

The official "rules" can be found here. In practice, some of the rules almost always apply almost, and some are more flexible.

Note there have been reports of SDC to one segment removing confirmed CPU upgrades on downline segments. If maintaining the confirmed upgrade is important then these changes should be handled with care.

Most Frequently Asked Question: When do I call/go online to make the change?
Follow this flowchart:
Question 1: Are you within 24 hours of your first originally scheduled UA(*) operated flight that you're trying to change off of? If yes, continue to question 2. If no, continue to answer 1.
Question 2: Are you within 24 hours of the first UA operated flight you're trying to change on to? If yes, continue to to answer 2. If no, continue to answer 1.
Answer 1: No, you cannot call/go online yet to make an SDC.
Answer 2: If the answer to both questions is yes, then you can call/go online to make an SDC.

General Baseline Rules

These are the general rules that usually apply to SDC's; falling outside these rules usually requires payment of a full change fee and the fare difference:
  • The departure time of the first segment of the old itinerary and the departure time of the first segment of the new itinerary must both be within 24 hours of the moment that the change is made.
  • The ultimate origin and destination airports must remain the same.
  • Routing can be changed (addition, deletion, or change of connection points) but the routing rules of the original fare usually apply.
  • All remaining unflown segments in single fared itinerary are considered together (i.e., if you're flying WWW-XXX-YYY-ZZZ, you can go to a kiosk at XXX and potentially fly XXX-AAA-ZZZ or XXX-ZZZ direct).
  • SDC can be done an unlimited number of times, and can therefore be used to extend a trip indefinitely (pending availability).
  • SDC costs $75 for GM's and Silvers - the fees is waived for Golds and up (plus any applicable fare difference, see below). *G's may also get free SDC, although there is no mention of this in the official rules.
  • Non-elites on the same PNR benefit from any waived fees for SDC.
  • No fare difference is charged so long as there is availability on all of the new segments in the originally ticketed fare class. Fare class availability in all classes often opens up after T-24 and almost always opens up at T-3 unless the plane is very full.
  • SDC on bulk tickets, including United Specials, is not permitted.
  • SDC is permitted on both domestic and international itineraries.
  • The proposed remaining itinerary must be operated by United or United Express®, and the ticket number must begin with 016. (see nuances below)

How to SDC

SDC can be accomplished in a few different places (in rough order of likelihood of being able to get the rules bent):
  • United.com “change flight” link before checking in, within T-24. (Many have reported recently that this has problems and attempts to collect the full fare difference and $200 change fee.)
  • "Search Other Flight Options" button during OLCI. (This has spotty availability, particularly if the change would involve paying an additional fare due to fare bucket non-availability.)
  • United mobile app
  • Kiosk
  • Phone
  • Counter/Gate (although reports are that most airport agents are not familiar with the SDC policy and may not allow you to SDC to a valid itinerary--you can try to direct them to look up GG SDC, but they often won't understand that what you're trying to do is permitted by those rules)
NB: An SDC where the original itinerary (in one direction) has three or more segments cannot be done online.


Nuances and Loose Rules

Now for the hard part: figuring out where the flexibility is in the rules. This list is compiled from the responses to people saying "Can I do X?" where X is something that is not clearly permitted by the rules. One's likelihood of success here depends a bit on the method used for the SDC.

For each item, the following codes apply:
Y = possible using any method
A = possible using an agent (phone/counter), perhaps having to HUACA
A* = mixed reports of success with an agent (phone/counter),
N* = possible only if you find a very accommodating agent
N = little or no reported success.
  • Violating various non-routing fare rules (day/time, minimum stay, etc.): Y
  • Change destination to ultra-close airport (e.g. JFK-> LGA; see the old S*FAR/STANDBY): A
  • Change destination to a co-terminal (e.g. JFK -> EWR): N*
  • Change destination to an entirely different place: N
  • Change itinerary at the beginning to include illegal layovers (> 4 hours): N*
  • Change itinerary at the layover point (using kiosk, app, or agent) to create an otherwise illegal layover: Y
  • Change itinerary at the beginning to add a layover point not permitted by the routing rules: N*
  • Change itinerary at a layover point to add another layover not permitted (either in terms of number of segments or routing rules) by the routing rules: Y
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours before or after the original flight: N*
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours before the original flight, if the previous day's flight has been delayed: Y (based on one report)
  • Combining separately-fared segments to do SDC (e.g. XXX-YYY+YYY-ZZZ -> XXX-ZZZ): A
  • Change UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment to UA metal: A
  • Change from UA metal to UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment: N (see post 1813 for one exception)
  • Change from UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment to a different UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment: ??
  • Change on a non-UA ticketed segment: N* (with potential dire consequences)
  • Change from an upgraded flight into Y on the new flight: A
  • Change from a CPU-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available R space on the new flight: N*
  • Change from an instrument-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available R space on the new flight: A*
  • Non-elite on different PNR benefiting from Elite's waived-fee SDC: A

If you encounter issues with an agent (phone or counter/gate), you can ask the agent to reference GG SDC. Additionally, GG SDC line 61 specifically references that fare classes are supposed to level out 3.5 hours before departure, so you might be able to use that to your advantage if fare classes have not leveled out and you're trying to ask an agent to open up the correct inventory or force you onto the flight.

original posting by mgcsinc, initiated by jackal
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Old Apr 29, 13, 9:51 am
  #1576  
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Checked in for my US-ticketed BWI-SFO segment tomorrow morning. So far, not seeing the "Change Flights" option offered on the app.

Choosing the "Change Flights" option on united.com results in an error: "! united.com is unable to initiate your flight change request at this time. Please contact United Reservations at 1-800-UNITED1 to make changes to this Itinerary."

There are a few different options (BWI-ORD-SFO, BWI-CLE-SFO) with open G space that should be showing up as acceptable changes, so the fact that I seem to not be able to change appears to confirm that you cannot SDC an OAL-issued ticket.

I don't have plans to change my outbound, but I did want to change my return. If I'm not allowed to do so by app, I may test the waters with phone and/or airport agents. Will report back.
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Old Apr 29, 13, 11:05 am
  #1577  
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Checked in for my US-ticketed BWI-SFO segment tomorrow morning. So far, not seeing the "Change Flights" option offered on the app.

Choosing the "Change Flights" option on united.com results in an error: "! united.com is unable to initiate your flight change request at this time. Please contact United Reservations at 1-800-UNITED1 to make changes to this Itinerary."

There are a few different options (BWI-ORD-SFO, BWI-CLE-SFO) with open G space that should be showing up as acceptable changes, so the fact that I seem to not be able to change appears to confirm that you cannot SDC an OAL-issued ticket.

I don't have plans to change my outbound, but I did want to change my return. If I'm not allowed to do so by app, I may test the waters with phone and/or airport agents. Will report back.
Phone should work on this I think unless its a bulk fare that falsely maps to G


I'm at RDU trying to change to a flight ex-YYY that is y3/m1, 5:15p departure. When is it likely to be changed to y3/k1 assuming no more sales? The connection i need to get up to YYY leaves in an hr. standby won't work in this case.

Edit: just got it, EF for the win

Last edited by PV_Premier; Apr 29, 13 at 11:40 am
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Old Apr 29, 13, 12:53 pm
  #1578  
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Originally Posted by ddrost1 View Post
Phone should work on this I think unless its a bulk fare that falsely maps to G
Not a bulk fare. It was a published fare that was published by US and booked on usairways.com.

I've tried several times and still haven't gotten anything to show up.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 1:35 pm
  #1579  
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Not encouraging re: being able to SDC flights on US ticket stock, even when only UA flights exist on the ticket.

I just tried to extend my stay in SFO (from the nonstop SFO-BWI later today to something tomorrow morning). G space was available, so I went to an agent in the SFO UC, as the website and iPhone app never did allow it.

For the second time in a row, now, I've had to explain the "new" SDC policy to the agents at the SFO T3 F club. Last time, the SFO UC agent insisted it was a 3-hour window (is that the PMUA policy?). This time, the agent claimed that the "Same-Day" part only meant until midnight. I tried to show her the text from united.com and even told her to look up GG SDC (she reacted with suspicion that I knew the code). She refused to believe it was a 24-hour window and finally called the helpdesk.

The helpdesk was not much help, either. The helpdesk agent told her that I had 24 hours from the time I booked the ticket to make any changes. I replied, "No, that's a completely separate policy. That's the flexible booking policy. This is the 'same-day change' policy." Finally, the helpdesk pointed out that it was on 037 ticket stock anyway, and at that point, I gave up and took my boarding pass back.

The agent then continued to try to argue that I couldn't SDC anyway and she would have to charge me a $200 change fee, and I finally said this is now the second time in a row I've encountered agents at this club who are unfamiliar with and won't honor this policy and that they needed to read up on the policies before leaving.

I might try again at the other UC or at the customer service desk when I get back to the airport for my flight in a couple of hours, but I'm not optimistic and will count it good fortune if I am successful. But at least if I can find someone who knows the SDC policy, I have a chance--but don't bother asking in the T3 F club at SFO, as they don't even believe SDC exists.

(Or maybe we should all go in and pester them to process SDCs until they finally get it...)
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Old Apr 30, 13, 1:41 pm
  #1580  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Not encouraging re: being able to SDC flights on US ticket stock, even when only UA flights exist on the ticket.

I just tried to extend my stay in SFO (from the nonstop SFO-BWI later today to something tomorrow morning). G space was available, so I went to an agent in the SFO UC, as the website and iPhone app never did allow it.

For the second time in a row, now, I've had to explain the "new" SDC policy to the agents at the SFO T3 F club. Last time, the SFO UC agent insisted it was a 3-hour window (is that the PMUA policy?). This time, the agent claimed that the "Same-Day" part only meant until midnight. I tried to show her the text from united.com and even told her to look up GG SDC (she reacted with suspicion that I knew the code). She refused to believe it was a 24-hour window and finally called the helpdesk.

The helpdesk was not much help, either. The helpdesk agent told her that I had 24 hours from the time I booked the ticket to make any changes. I replied, "No, that's a completely separate policy. That's the flexible booking policy. This is the 'same-day change' policy." Finally, the helpdesk pointed out that it was on 037 ticket stock anyway, and at that point, I gave up and took my boarding pass back.

The agent then continued to try to argue that I couldn't SDC anyway and she would have to charge me a $200 change fee, and I finally said this is now the second time in a row I've encountered agents at this club who are unfamiliar with and won't honor this policy and that they needed to read up on the policies before leaving.

I might try again at the other UC or at the customer service desk when I get back to the airport for my flight in a couple of hours, but I'm not optimistic and will count it good fortune if I am successful. But at least if I can find someone who knows the SDC policy, I have a chance--but don't bother asking in the T3 F club at SFO, as they don't even believe SDC exists.

(Or maybe we should all go in and pester them to process SDCs until they finally get it...)
Strongly suggest changing strategies to a phone agent. IME, phone agents don't know that standby exists, and airport agents barely know what SDC is. It's just not in their respective domains. I think you'll have a higher likelihood of success over the phone, especially if you're willing to HUCA.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 2:16 pm
  #1581  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Not encouraging re: being able to SDC flights on US ticket stock, even when only UA flights exist on the ticket.

I just tried to extend my stay in SFO (from the nonstop SFO-BWI later today to something tomorrow morning). G space was available, so I went to an agent in the SFO UC, as the website and iPhone app never did allow it.

Did you try the kiosk?
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Old Apr 30, 13, 5:22 pm
  #1582  
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Strongly suggest changing strategies to a phone agent. IME, phone agents don't know that standby exists, and airport agents barely know what SDC is. It's just not in their respective domains. I think you'll have a higher likelihood of success over the phone, especially if you're willing to HUCA.
Too late now--on the flight. (Got the upgrade, too.) Shoild have tried--oh well.

I did try again at the Premier ticket counter and the agent kept insisting that it was only valid for flights departing earlier, not later. Much more positive attitude than the UC agent, though (I've never had anything resembling a smile at that UC--the one in G is much better, IMHO). At that point I had to run for the gate.

That said, phone agents do know about SDC, but IME they are much more sticklers for the rules (they'll always rebook you in your original class instead of full Y in IRROPS, etc.) so I assumed they'd be more likely to notice it was on US ticket stock or encounter an error when trying to change. (The help desk agent sure did.) Still, would have been worth trying. Maybe someone else can.

Originally Posted by alex_b View Post
Did you try the kiosk?
Several times. No go. Phone and website, too.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 5:57 pm
  #1583  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Several times. No go. Phone and website, too.
Thanks for the info. Worth adding to the wiki post.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 6:02 pm
  #1584  
 
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Strongly suggest changing strategies to a phone agent. IME, phone agents don't know that standby exists, and airport agents barely know what SDC is. It's just not in their respective domains. I think you'll have a higher likelihood of success over the phone, especially if you're willing to HUCA.
I completely agree with this. The few times I tried to SDC at the airport with an agent or at the UC, i've failed even if I found the exact flights and routing for them.

I've always had success on the phone -- so I just call on the phone in the airport if it comes to it.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 6:06 pm
  #1585  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Too late now--on the flight. (Got the upgrade, too.) Shoild have tried--oh well.

I did try again at the Premier ticket counter and the agent kept insisting that it was only valid for flights departing earlier, not later. Much more positive attitude than the UC agent, though (I've never had anything resembling a smile at that UC--the one in G is much better, IMHO). At that point I had to run for the gate.

That said, phone agents do know about SDC, but IME they are much more sticklers for the rules (they'll always rebook you in your original class instead of full Y in IRROPS, etc.) so I assumed they'd be more likely to notice it was on US ticket stock or encounter an error when trying to change. (The help desk agent sure did.) Still, would have been worth trying. Maybe someone else can.



Several times. No go. Phone and website, too.
I went through this a month ago - it was a horror story. Here's what happened:

I was traveling on an US ticket with a mix of US and UA flights. I flew MAD-PHL and PHL-SFO on US and was continuing the next day SFO-HNL on UA. Since it was a 9am flight and I wanted to get some sleep, as an UA Gold, I wanted to switch to a later flight. united.com would not allow it - I got the same message you did it. Once I got to the UC at SFO, I asked the agent there and she said it can't be done as it's an US ticket and they are not touching it. The United app gave me several options, so after getting nowhere with the site and the agent, I selected an option and changed the reservation. This is where the trouble began. I then asked the UC agent again to check out my reservation and she said that not only did I lose my original flight but my ticket needs to be reissued and since it's on US stock, they can't do it. I called US reservations and they saw the new flights but couldn't reissue the ticket without the change fee. Moreover, I was told that the new itinerary doesn't even price for them - probably because it contained UA flight numbers and not US codeshares. So, in the end, the agent removed my changes and put me back on the flight I had originally and after going back and forth between US and the UC agent, it was finally OK - I think they were able to re-sync the ticket somehow. Moral of the story, when you have an UA segment on another airline's stock, don't touch it. Things can get very hairy. This basically robs UA elites of the SDC benefits and it's not mentioned on the united.com that in order for you to benefit from this, the itinerary needs to be on UA ticket stock. What was even more disappointing is that I had been given an upgrade on the SFO-HNL flight to First Class. As a Gold, that almost never happens for me. But since I changed the reservation and in the 1 hour it took to fix it, the seat had disappeared and I was stuck in an Economy seat on a very crowded plane to Honolulu. I did ask the agent how it was possible to be upgraded to R on an US ticket stock but can't change flights and I didn't get an answer. So, the lesson I've learned is not to touch UA segments when it's issued by someone else. I haven't tried calling Reservations to see if they can do something but I would strongly advise against it. I have 3 US-ticketed, all UA-operated itineraries over the next month, so I may give it a shot and report back but I highly doubt I'd be successful.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 6:31 pm
  #1586  
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Originally Posted by alex_b View Post
Try the website or kiosk on the day of travel, I know that CPUs work on US codeshares on UA metal so no reason why the computer wouldn't do the same for SDC.
Noticed that there were some threads about SDC on US ticketed stock but UA metal (Hi Jackal!).

Trip a few weekends back: during the day of travel, more like 1AM in the morning for a 3pm flight, I was able to get an agent on the Premier line to SDC me to an evening flight. This is after failing the afternoon before during the SDC window (the quoted thread details my failed attempt). Either I got really lucky and the agent did not notice the US ticket number, or my conjecture is that SDC may be possible with phone assist on non UA stock IF it is the day of travel AND it is the last segment on the itinerary with UA metal. Note, once she did the first SDC, all the other SDC options came up in the iPhone app once the agent did the first SDC. [on a side note, just the usual SDC routings on a US R fare mapped to UA G fare, nothing special]
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Old Apr 30, 13, 7:08 pm
  #1587  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
(Got the upgrade, too.)
Well that's something, at least


Originally Posted by jackal View Post
That said, phone agents do know about SDC, but IME they are much more sticklers for the rules (they'll always rebook you in your original class instead of full Y in IRROPS, etc.) so I assumed they'd be more likely to notice it was on US ticket stock or encounter an error when trying to change. (The help desk agent sure did.) Still, would have been worth trying. Maybe someone else can.
IME, SDC is one of the things that vary the most from agent to agent. It seems like some subset of agents (maybe particular call centers?) just use something equivalent to the front-end we see when trying to do SDC during OLCI, and seem very flustered when you try to feed them something that's not on the list. Others are on the complete other end -- they seem to just force the change from the beginning, and will give you anything within reason. It helps, of course, to have either logic or the rules or both on your side. If the change is definitely legal, you can use the magic words "rate desk" and a phone agent will get it done for sure

Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Several times. No go. Phone and website, too.
IME, the OLCI, app, and kiosk lists are pretty similar. The "change flights" link on the website can be coaxed into giving you other options, but it's extremely finicky.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 7:35 pm
  #1588  
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i have found the change flights link to be the most flexible, but often you have to use multidestination to get what you want, and you have to be prepared to shovel out a small add collect. i always use EF to find availability segment by segment then go onto UA and dump it into the change flight link with multi destination. i am 3/3 using this approach, did have it error out once and that was circumvented with a phone call.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 8:14 pm
  #1589  
 
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Originally Posted by ddrost1 View Post
i have found the change flights link to be the most flexible, but often you have to use multidestination to get what you want, and you have to be prepared to shovel out a small add collect. i always use EF to find availability segment by segment then go onto UA and dump it into the change flight link with multi destination. i am 3/3 using this approach, did have it error out once and that was circumvented with a phone call.
The small add-collects are cute.

Have you noticed that it's been improved a bit since the website update? It has for me -- less timing out than before.
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Old Apr 30, 13, 8:29 pm
  #1590  
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
The small add-collects are cute.

Have you noticed that it's been improved a bit since the website update? It has for me -- less timing out than before.
i wish i could say i had, but my last experience of SDC from a one stop to a two stop is the one that prompted the error. i think it was because i had to search for the itinerary with multidestination to get it, and the third flight from DEN-SMF was outside of the 24 hour window, while the other two (RDU-CLE and CLE-DEN) were inside the window.

on to other topics, my next SDC will be an attempt at changing a Friday PM itinerary to a Saturday AM. unfortunately I am on a G fare and the loads do not look favorable on my desired itinerary. i already have EF bird-dogging it. not quite sure what to do with this as they are selling U and it is zeroed out up to W as of now.
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