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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 “change flight” 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 Aug 14, 18, 1:50 pm
  #4201  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 122
Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
IRROPS is your ONLY chance, and even then .... simply not eligible for SDC until 23:59 hours before departure.
Thanks. The 1K desk said they might make an exception, but it's based on the agent, so I guess I will have to call then and find out.
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Old Aug 15, 18, 1:37 am
  #4202  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYC
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 397
Originally Posted by ryman554 View Post
I must have asked this before, and I know the formal answer is "no".

Let's say I have two separate tickets, both on 016 stock:
CCC-BBB and BBB-AAA.

Has anybody has success SDC (without IRROPS!) from CCC-AAA?

Does the answer change if CCC is after the journey starts (ie, it is BBB-CCC-BBB/BBB-AAA)?

Does the answer change any more if the tickets are nested and: AAA-BBB-AAA and BBB-CCC-BBB and the SDC removes the non-connection connection point on the return journey? AAA-BBB/BBB-CCC-AAA?

Does the answer change even more if CCC (above) is in Japan (like,say, NRT) where rules like to be followed and AAA is an expensive place (like, say SFO) and BBB is not so much (like, say, LAX) for a set of tickets where end-on-end ticketing appears to be disallowed? =)

For those that have success.... how?
if you’re lucky enough that the UA app offers you a same day change to go NRT-SFO-LAX on the first ticket, you might be able to make it work. This would be a bit like hidden city ticketing, with the additional benefit that you can check a bag at NRT since SFO would be your first port of entry into the US. Of course, you run all of the other risks of hidden city ticketing, and definitely don’t expect a refund or any credit for the LAX-SFO flight, because that would send a very loud and clear signal that you missed your flight in the other direction intentionally.

Personally I wouldn’t do it, but if you are not a regular UA flyer and this is genuinely a one-off situation then it might work.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:01 pm
  #4203  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Premier Gold
Posts: 81
Can I SDC with uncleared miles/copay?

I searched the forums and didn't see an answer to a similar situation as mine. My spouse and I are traveling SFO-ORD-FCO in a few days and requested an upgrade using miles and co-pay. We haven't cleared the transatlantic flight yet although the seat map and availability is showing 5 seats/reservations available in J but zero in R. We HAVE cleared into F on the SFO-ORD flight though. Looking at the IAD-FCO flight the same day, there is 4R bucket reservations available (8J reservations available.) This availability doesn't show up if I search for SFO-IAD-FCO though and SFO-IAD appears full in front.

Can I change my miles and copay to another flight SFO-IAD-FCO vs. SFO-ORD-FCO via SDC? (I understand we would be in Y class SFO-IAD but desire Business First IAD-FCO.)

Or should we just stick with our original flights since 5 seats still show available?

Thanks,
misterfuss

Last edited by misterfuss; Aug 16, 18 at 8:03 pm Reason: clarity and added question
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:27 pm
  #4204  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Originally Posted by misterfuss View Post
I searched the forums and didn't see an answer to a similar situation as mine. My spouse and I are traveling SFO-ORD-FCO in a few days and requested an upgrade using miles and co-pay. We haven't cleared the transatlantic flight yet although the seat map and availability is showing 5 seats/reservations available in J but zero in R. We HAVE cleared into F on the SFO-ORD flight though. Looking at the IAD-FCO flight the same day, there is 4R bucket reservations available (8J reservations available.) This availability doesn't show up if I search for SFO-IAD-FCO though and SFO-IAD appears full in front.

Can I change my miles and copay to another flight SFO-IAD-FCO vs. SFO-ORD-FCO via SDC? (I understand we would be in Y class SFO-IAD but desire Business First IAD-FCO.)...
a couple of issues
If you SDC to the IAD connection, you will lose the domestic upgrade and you may have trouble requesting the upgrade in the new routing unless R>0 (an agent may allow you to re-waitlist but YMMV)
To SDC to the IAD connection, you will need your purchased fare available for the new routing.
You will need an agent to do the SDC if any unflown segments are upgraded

BTW, if ORD-FCO does not clear, you will get the miles and copay back -- and a free SFO-ORD upgrade.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:42 pm
  #4205  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Premier Gold
Posts: 81
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
a couple of issues
If you SDC to the IAD connection, you will lose the domestic upgrade and you may have trouble requesting the upgrade in the new routing unless R>0 (an agent may allow you to re-waitlist but YMMV)
To SDC to the IAD connection, you will need your purchased fare available for the new routing.
You will need an agent to do the SDC if any unflown segments are upgraded

BTW, if ORD-FCO does not clear, you will get the miles and copay back -- and a free SFO-ORD upgrade.
Thank you for your quick and knowledgeable reply. I think I will just stick with the original routing via ORD. If the ORD-FCO clears, maybe I'll get to visit the Polaris lounge.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 9:11 pm
  #4206  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,886
Originally Posted by misterfuss View Post
Looking at the IAD-FCO flight the same day, there is 4R bucket reservations available (8J reservations available.) This availability doesn't show up if I search for SFO-IAD-FCO though and SFO-IAD appears full in front.
R4 on IAD-FCO means that you would be able to clear IAD-FCO immediately. (When you're looking for R space, always search one segment at a time). If it's still showing R4 at T-24, and SFO-IAD-FCO shows availability in the fare class that you booked, you should be able to call, SDC, and confirm the upgrade.

Keep in mind that many business class seats are sold last-minute, and that UA will sell upgrades up until just prior to departure. If there are only 5 seats available now, there's a good chance you'd be sitting in the back. Do you have status with United?
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Old Aug 16, 18, 9:53 pm
  #4207  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 8,244
Originally Posted by misterfuss View Post
I searched the forums and didn't see an answer to a similar situation as mine. My spouse and I are traveling SFO-ORD-FCO in a few days and requested an upgrade using miles and co-pay. We haven't cleared the transatlantic flight yet although the seat map and availability is showing 5 seats/reservations available in J but zero in R. We HAVE cleared into F on the SFO-ORD flight though. Looking at the IAD-FCO flight the same day, there is 4R bucket reservations available (8J reservations available.) This availability doesn't show up if I search for SFO-IAD-FCO though and SFO-IAD appears full in front.

Can I change my miles and copay to another flight SFO-IAD-FCO vs. SFO-ORD-FCO via SDC? (I understand we would be in Y class SFO-IAD but desire Business First IAD-FCO.)
If you desire, you can call to SDC to SFO-IAD-FCO. You should point out that IAD-FCO has R space available, and then you should end up with SFO-IAD in your original booking class (only CPU eligible) plus IAD-FCO in R. Whether a TCON in Y is worth the other half of the upgrade is probably dependent on whether you think you have a shot at ORD-FCO.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 3:08 am
  #4208  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat
Posts: 38
If I have a confirmed upgrade using an RPU and do a SDC to an earlier CPU eligible flight with R availability, can I get my RPU back and get a CPU upgrade on the new flight?
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Old Aug 17, 18, 4:43 am
  #4209  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA 1K 2MM; Marriott Gold; IHG Platinum
Posts: 2,790
Yes. The RPU should be automatically returned. Otherwise, call MPSC after the trip.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 6:52 am
  #4210  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Floating around
Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Silver (1MM), Marriott LT Titanium
Posts: 8,001
Originally Posted by godbreath View Post
If I have a confirmed upgrade using an RPU and do a SDC to an earlier CPU eligible flight with R availability, can I get my RPU back and get a CPU upgrade on the new flight?
Technically, yes. But remember that R>0 does not equate to you getting a CPU. CPU books into the "R" bucket but the actual bucket used for CPU is hidden. Having R space greatly increases your chances of a CPU but does not guarantee it.

-RM
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Old Aug 17, 18, 8:48 am
  #4211  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA 1K 2MM; Marriott Gold; IHG Platinum
Posts: 2,790
That is correct. R spaces (R9 with 13 seats on seatmap available) are plenty for my upcoming flight next Tuesday. It is with 1K CPU window (T-93 h now), but United has not upgraded me! 😭
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Old Aug 17, 18, 11:36 am
  #4212  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Premier Gold
Posts: 81
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
R4 on IAD-FCO means that you would be able to clear IAD-FCO immediately. (When you're looking for R space, always search one segment at a time). If it's still showing R4 at T-24, and SFO-IAD-FCO shows availability in the fare class that you booked, you should be able to call, SDC, and confirm the upgrade.

Keep in mind that many business class seats are sold last-minute, and that UA will sell upgrades up until just prior to departure. If there are only 5 seats available now, there's a good chance you'd be sitting in the back. Do you have status with United?
Thank you for your information. I am a Gold and my spouse is a Silver. At this time, I am going to stick with my original booking now since the SFO-IAD flight no longer shows decent economy plus seats available and the ORD-FCO flight we have Economy Plus window and an aisle.

Originally Posted by findark View Post
If you desire, you can call to SDC to SFO-IAD-FCO. You should point out that IAD-FCO has R space available, and then you should end up with SFO-IAD in your original booking class (only CPU eligible) plus IAD-FCO in R. Whether a TCON in Y is worth the other half of the upgrade is probably dependent on whether you think you have a shot at ORD-FCO.
Thank you for your reply. Our original booking is in K class and there is only one K available. At this time the available seats on the transcon are pretty lousy too. So, I think we will just wait and see if we clear the upgrade in ORD.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Aug 17, 18 at 11:45 am Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Aug 19, 18, 8:45 am
  #4213  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Programs: United 1K
Posts: 1,875
All:

(Yes, I have read the wiki and am trying to pull out a specific question for SDC that I am worried about)

I am hoping to be able to do a SDC on an international itinerary for the first time - have done domestic plenty esp when I havent cared about keeping upgrades. Short version: There was a good business (P) class fare sale from PIT to PEK, but the only cheap flight I could get within a day of preferred is an EVENING departure on the 9th to IAD, with the IAD-PEK flight the next day (10th). This means I end up getting to PEK a day later (11th) than I would have preferred (and its my first time in China).

I hope to be able to try to SDC around the 24-hr check in time on the evening of the 8th, to hopefully confirm a departing MORNING flight on the 9th through any gateway to PEK and arrive on the 10th. (The total change fee for anything like this of course like $5k)

Two questions - 1) From others' experience, how often do things like this work out for you for INTL trips? Does class of service matter much? What all should I be worried about or be checking for - just P class inventory to and through the other gateways? Wiki notes that inventory tends to "open up" a few days early which helps this process but my experience is P opening on the outbound PIT leg to gateway is what likely will foil me.

2) A Chinese colleague of mine is flying economy (G class I think) on the same outbound itinerary and is also hoping to SDC like I described above - but has no status. I know that means the SDC will cost money, but does the status influence whether options show up? We would either both switch, or neither.

Last edited by hscottm; Aug 19, 18 at 2:37 pm Reason: fixed colleague fare class outbound
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Old Aug 19, 18, 9:08 am
  #4214  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Floating around
Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Silver (1MM), Marriott LT Titanium
Posts: 8,001
Originally Posted by hscottm View Post
Two questions - 1) From others' experience, how often do things like this work out for you for INTL trips? Does class of service matter much? What all should I be worried about or be checking for - just P class inventory to and through the other gateways? Wiki notes that inventory tends to "open up" a few days early which helps this process but my experience is P opening on the outbound PIT leg to gateway is what likely will foil me.
Highly possible but fare classes tend to even out about 3 hours before flight time. That's still way later than you want to SDC. It's not impossible to see ORD or EWR to PEK open up but right now "P" is not open on those flights if you're talking about September. But both flights are very open in business.

Another thing UA does is stop selling "P" fares on routes 3 or 7 days in advance. They then open "P" class after that so people can pay change fees and get on the flight they want. This also helps you in an SDC situation.

Originally Posted by hscottm
2) A Chinese colleague of mine is flying economy (G/S classes I think) on the same outbound itinerary and is also hoping to SDC like I described above - but has no status. I know that means the SDC will cost money, but does the status influence whether options show up? We would either both switch, or neither.
Your colleague's lack of status doesn't matter to SDC. They will still pay the SDC fee if SDC options are available and they choose one. They need the same fare class open that was booked (G or S).

-RM
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Old Aug 19, 18, 9:42 am
  #4215  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Programs: United 1K
Posts: 1,875
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
Highly possible but fare classes tend to even out about 3 hours before flight time. That's still way later than you want to SDC. It's not impossible to see ORD or EWR to PEK open up but right now "P" is not open on those flights if you're talking about September. But both flights are very open in business.

Another thing UA does is stop selling "P" fares on routes 3 or 7 days in advance. They then open "P" class after that so people can pay change fees and get on the flight they want. This also helps you in an SDC situation.


Your colleague's lack of status doesn't matter to SDC. They will still pay the SDC fee if SDC options are available and they choose one. They need the same fare class open that was booked (G or S).

-RM
RM - thanks for insights. I knew about the need for fare classes, just still trying to figure out what kinds of odds we should be putting on this working out to both be able to SDC.

I didnt say in my OP, but have been "simulating" watching how much P opens up on the gateway flights to PEK this week - hadnt done this before and its interesting. e.g, Monday and Tuesday of this week were P0 a few days ago but P1-P3 now. Wed-Thurs are P0. Problem is the flights from here to gateways dont always work out and I will need both. And G/S are sketchy (as expected).

I am coming around to the expectation that a route or two might open up for me, although those same ones might not for my friend.

The last thing I thought about, again inspired by wiki, is whether calling in to the 1K line at the check-in time would have any incremental benefit, even though we are on different reservations.
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