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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki) {Archive}

UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki) {Archive}

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Old Jan 5, 18, 12:49 pm   -   Wikipost
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This wiki was created to distill SDC (and related 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, 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 currently 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: 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.
  • Only applies to UA/UX operated flights, domestic or international. Changing from a non-UA operated to UA operated may be possible.
  • 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 Members and Silvers - the fee 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. Once in-route, fees for an earlier connecting flight may be waived per GG SDC Line 118.
  • 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.

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 mobile app
  • Kiosk
  • Phone
  • On united.com, right now only the "Search Other Flight Options" button during On-Line Check-In (OLCI) works. This has spotty availability, particularly if the change would involve paying an additional fare due to fare bucket non-availability.
  • 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)
Please note that the United.com ďchange flightĒ link before checking in within T-24, is broken. The website may not show all available options and will often attempt to collect the change fee rather than the SDC fee (if any).


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 = officially permitted and possible using any method
A = not permitted but perhaps 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 (see the old S*FAR/STANDBY): A
  • Change destination to a co-terminal: 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: Y
  • Change from a GPU-upgraded flight into J/F 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
  • Change at origin airport after tendering a checked bag: N
  • Change at layover airport when a bag has been checked: N

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.

Note -- as of 11/27/2017: A datapoint indicates that UA may have updated its GG rule regarding leveling out to state the following:

Code:
EVERYDAY AWARD AND REVENUE BUCKETS ARE TO LEVEL OUT WITHIN 2H OF DEPARTURE
Standby
You may stand by if seats are not available in the purchased fare class. In these cases, the same-day change fee will apply, but will not be charged unless you are assigned a seat on your alternate flight. Changes in routing are not allowed when standing by. Standby may be requested on the day of departure at an airport kiosk or with a United representative at the airport. Once you are added to the flight standby list, you can check your real-time standby status at united.com/flightstatus or on your mobile device at mobile.united.com/info.

Instead of paying a same-day change discounted fee, can I stand by for my desired flight for free?
No. The only time you may standby for free is when the fare does not have any penalties for making changes, or when standing by involuntarily due to a flight irregularity.

Can I pay the same-day change discount fee with cash?
Cash will only be accepted by a United airport representative when the change is available to be confirmed, not for standby travel.

original posting by mgcsinc, initiated by jackal

Previous threads:
UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions *now with WikiPost* {pre-2015 Archive}
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Old Jun 22, 18, 8:38 pm
  #3931  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Programs: UA 1K (Million Miler). AA Gold (lifetime 1 Million). TK Elite Gold
Posts: 679
SDC with rules

Noting that N. America to SIN on K fare basis stipulates no quick turnarounds, with minimum stay of 12 hours. Could SDC from the SFO- bound flight to LAX-bound flight leaving SIN shortly after arrival from LAX, hence less than 12 hours stay, be possible? If so, and same K fare basis is available, how best to do this? UA transfer desk in SIN, 1K desk by phone or by app?
Thanks
cagcag is offline  
Old Jun 22, 18, 9:20 pm
  #3932  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,905
Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
Noting that N. America to SIN on K fare basis stipulates no quick turnarounds, with minimum stay of 12 hours. Could SDC from the SFO- bound flight to LAX-bound flight leaving SIN shortly after arrival from LAX, hence less than 12 hours stay, be possible? If so, and same K fare basis is available, how best to do this? UA transfer desk in SIN, 1K desk by phone or by app?
Thanks
Yes; if there is K space available, you could SDC to the LAX flight. Iíd do it on the app, personally, but youíll likely need to stop by the UA transfer desk anyway to pick up boarding passes.
jsloan is offline  
Old Jun 23, 18, 12:36 am
  #3933  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: KSFO/KSQL
Programs: UA Plat, 0.8MM; PPL
Posts: 635
Originally Posted by COSPILOT View Post
I've had some interesting options given, but I just want to get home. I cannot imagine the amount of people interested in longer flights via SDC is more than a few per day. United doesn't need to fix anything, because most want quicker options, not longer. The few FT nuts (me included on occasion) is in the minority.
I think this is right. Even though I'm trying to get to 1MM, when I'm actually on a trip, my number one priority is either 1. get to my destination ASAP, or 2. get home ASAP. I doubt more than a handful of people a day do SDC for extra PQMs.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
And that, specifically, will be the justification that they'll use when they curtail the feature due to abuse by a select few.
I think UA would be justified to limited SDC routing options to any valid routing in any published fare basis (including full-Y) between the city pairs in question. I much rather see illogical SDC routing options go away, than SDC itself be limited or curtailed somehow.
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Old Jun 23, 18, 4:51 am
  #3934  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: DCA
Programs: United 1K 2MM, Hilton Gold
Posts: 2,497
I was recently offered ORD-LAX-BWI.

Despite appearances, this is not "illogical". It's 3452 extra PQMs out of UA's pocket, which means I make 2MM 3452 miles sooner, costing United 3452 award miles (9x vs 8x multiplier). At 2 cents a mile, United is out $70 for the deal. The ORD-BWI flight was oversold by 1 and it took $800 in travel credits to fix that. (And yes, we can quibble that the $70 isn't really $70 and the $800 isn't really $800, but it makes no difference)
Miles Ahead is offline  
Old Jun 23, 18, 9:42 am
  #3935  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Programs: UA 1K (Million Miler). AA Gold (lifetime 1 Million). TK Elite Gold
Posts: 679
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post


Yes; if there is K space available, you could SDC to the LAX flight. Iíd do it on the app, personally, but youíll likely need to stop by the UA transfer desk anyway to pick up boarding passes.
Good news. Instead of going to lounge, I'll need to go to the transfer desk. If I attempt to do SDC to same day as arrival onto the SFO flight, must ALL segments of the itinerary be available in K basis, or only the TPAC flight. , Thanks again, jsloan.
cagcag is offline  
Old Jun 23, 18, 12:10 pm
  #3936  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,905
Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
If I attempt to do SDC to same day as arrival onto the SFO flight, must ALL segments of the itinerary be available in K basis, or only the TPAC flight. , Thanks again, jsloan.
Happy to help.

All segments would need to be available in K.
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Old Jun 23, 18, 12:16 pm
  #3937  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,905
Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
It's 3452 extra PQMs out of UA's pocket, which means I make 2MM 3452 miles sooner, costing United 3452 award miles (9x vs 8x multiplier).
Not quite. It's 3452 extra PQMs. If you're averaging $0.12 PQD / PQM, which is the number they use for the status thresholds (25K PQM + $3K PQD = Silver, etc), you'd get about 415 additional PQDs while LT Plat vs. LT Gold, so it's an extra 415 miles UA may eventually have to give you.

I'm confused about the oversale, though. They let you SDC for free to avoid an oversale? Why would you do that, instead of taking the travel credit?
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Old Jun 23, 18, 2:44 pm
  #3938  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: DCA
Programs: United 1K 2MM, Hilton Gold
Posts: 2,497
I'm sufficiently close to 2MM that the regular thresholds don't matter much. And that's one of the easiest things for UA to know. But even at 0.21 per PQD, which is what they are willing to sell them to me at, it's still marginally better for them to have me SDC to a circuitous routing.

I didn't take the travel credit because at the time I checked in I didn't know one would be offered.
Miles Ahead is offline  
Old Jun 23, 18, 5:13 pm
  #3939  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA
Programs: HHonors Diamond; United 1K (domestic). Hertz Presidents Circle
Posts: 1,626
What I've noticed of late is it seems there are SDC options being offered that didn't show up when I booked the trip initially [like SFO and DEN connections for YYZ-CLE, where the booking engine only offered EWR/ORD/IAD, or for my flight tomorrow CLE-IAH-GSP when only ORD and EWR were offered at initial booking.

My two main goals (beyond "getting where I need to go" are adding new lines to my Flight Memory map and collecting PQM [already at 1.5x the 1k PQD for this year, but only 60% of the PQM way there], so these are sorely tempting but each time there has been some external factor making actually taking the SDC not viable.

I'm wondering if there's a maximum permitted mileage rule that the revenue booking engine is enforcing but the SDC engine is ignoring.
lincolnjkc is offline  
Old Jun 24, 18, 3:25 am
  #3940  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
I'm wondering if there's a maximum permitted mileage rule that the revenue booking engine is enforcing but the SDC engine is ignoring.
Itís not likely MPM specifically, as thatís rarely used on UA domestic fares, but rather the routing table for the fare. Itís likely a distinction without a difference in this particular case though; the net result is that it seems to be willing to offer connections during SDC that it wouldnít have sold (at that price) originally.
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Old Jun 24, 18, 8:56 am
  #3941  
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post


Itís not likely MPM specifically, as thatís rarely used on UA domestic fares, but rather the routing table for the fare. Itís likely a distinction without a difference in this particular case though; the net result is that it seems to be willing to offer connections during SDC that it wouldnít have sold (at that price) originally.
yup. I do CVG-YYZ a lot, and Iím pretty sure the routing rules allow connections only through ORD/IAD/EWR on most (or all) revenue fares. Most city pairs offer a similar kind of thing. But even award is different - Iíve done a couple of very last minute weekend awards over the last 2-3 years and snagged awards on connections through IAH - which were the only available flights with seats out of CVG those mornings. Iíve also looked at booking multi-city revenue routings via DEN/IAH, and they are always 2-3x more than my regular connection points.
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Old Jun 24, 18, 10:46 am
  #3942  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA
Programs: HHonors Diamond; United 1K (domestic). Hertz Presidents Circle
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post


yup. I do CVG-YYZ a lot, and Iím pretty sure the routing rules allow connections only through ORD/IAD/EWR on most (or all) revenue fares. Most city pairs offer a similar kind of thing. But even award is different - Iíve done a couple of very last minute weekend awards over the last 2-3 years and snagged awards on connections through IAH - which were the only available flights with seats out of CVG those mornings. Iíve also looked at booking multi-city revenue routings via DEN/IAH, and they are always 2-3x more than my regular connection points.
I'm pretty sure this (and what @jsloan said) is exactly what's going on. I'm usually buting full fare tickets and the fact that the booking engine has never offered the more "exotic" connections -- at any price -- implies stongly to me that it's not a "fare" issue but a "routing" issue. Of course, you can force it to construct fares by manually specifying the city, but if theres not a valid through fare you're going to wind up with two distinct fares end-on-end which drives the cost way up.

FWIW, my last CLE-ORD-YYZ was something like $2.57/BISM, so it's not like I'm a drain on revenue :-)
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Old Jun 24, 18, 10:48 am
  #3943  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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I got offered SFO-EWR-PDX in p.s. while flying on a F SFO-PDX last month. To bad my travel companions didnít want to take the generous offer.
mdbe is offline  
Old Jun 24, 18, 2:37 pm
  #3944  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by mdbe View Post
I got offered SFO-EWR-PDX in p.s. while flying on a F SFO-PDX last month. To bad my travel companions didnít want to take the generous offer.
Time to find some new travel companions
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Old Jun 24, 18, 2:53 pm
  #3945  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: TX
Programs: UA Plat, Marriott G, Hilton G, SPG G
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
I was recently offered ORD-LAX-BWI.

Despite appearances, this is not "illogical". It's 3452 extra PQMs out of UA's pocket, which means I make 2MM 3452 miles sooner, costing United 3452 award miles (9x vs 8x multiplier). At 2 cents a mile, United is out $70 for the deal. The ORD-BWI flight was oversold by 1 and it took $800 in travel credits to fix that. (And yes, we can quibble that the $70 isn't really $70 and the $800 isn't really $800, but it makes no difference)
seems to me United got you off the flight for cheap, preventing an oversale by 2 and thereby saving $730.

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