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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 Oct 12, 18, 7:58 pm
  #4426  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
no co-terminal with SDC. You cannot change HND to NRT w/ SDC.
i tried this in February as a 1K and was denied. Ended up leaving from HND
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Old Oct 12, 18, 8:38 pm
  #4427  
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Originally Posted by higher_flyer View Post
Me: I purchased a First Class fare from the get-go, no upgrades involved anywhere along the way.
Agent: Sorry sir, A is an upgrade fare from your original U.
Me: No, I have my original receipt showing A fare.
Agent: Sorry, I know it's confusing, even for us agents, but A is an upgrade.
Been a while since we heard that nonsense.

Definitely an IT error for the return to refare. Glad it worked out for you.
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Old Oct 14, 18, 10:24 am
  #4428  
 
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I don't know if this \has been discussed before, but I was flying (on an award ticket, possibly relevant) AZO-ORD-YUL, with ORD-YUL being an AC flight with AC number. I had an SDC option for a different AZO-ORD flight connecting to the same ORD-YUL flight. I thought in the past you couldn't SDC if you still had partner legs remaining.
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Old Oct 14, 18, 11:27 am
  #4429  
 
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Originally Posted by BThumme View Post
I don't know if this \has been discussed before, but I was flying (on an award ticket, possibly relevant) AZO-ORD-YUL, with ORD-YUL being an AC flight with AC number. I had an SDC option for a different AZO-ORD flight connecting to the same ORD-YUL flight. I thought in the past you couldn't SDC if you still had partner legs remaining.
Possibly related: I noticed in August or September that SDC was offering changes to leg 1 without changes to leg 2, which I don't believe it used to do. E.g., if I had AAA-BBB-CCC with AAA-BBB on UA123 and BBB-CCC on UA456, it would offer me a change to AAA-BBB on UA789 but still connecting to UA456 for BBB-CCC. Previously no options that included UA456 would show up while on the original 123/456 pairing, and I'd have to make two changes (get off of both 123 and 456, then get back onto 456 with connection from 789).
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Old Oct 14, 18, 11:50 pm
  #4430  
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Looks like I'll be flying SIN-SFO in late October, connecting to SFO-ORD-YYZ. Assuming I fly the rest of my planned trips and don't book anything else, I'll be about 400 PQM short of Plat.

Since this will be a rare trip on which I don't have a checked bag, I'm hoping to SDC the SFO-ORD-YYZ into something that yields an additional ~500 PQM, whether it's a connection somewhere like EWR or IAD, or by adding a short hop from SFO to LAX or LAS (which, obviously, would yield the 500 PQM minimum) on the front end.

This will be my first time thru SFO on United with status, and I know loads tend to be very high out of SFO. Are ex-SFO SDC options still common enough that I should be able to accomplish this? (This would likely be on a Tuesday.) Thanks.
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Old Oct 15, 18, 1:29 pm
  #4431  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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SDC question (planning around an SDC... is it too risky?)

Hey all. Question (really more looking for opinions I think!) on SDCs. Im looking to book a December MR / long weekend getaway (12/15-18), LAX-LHR. Cant fly out the 14th due to a work thing, cant stay out there longer due to holiday family things!

Prices for flying out the 15th vs the 14th are 2-3x on price, I assume due to Saturday stayover requirements.

So question is, has anyone ever booked a Friday flight with the intent of calling Friday to do an SDC to Saturday? Im 99% its allowed by the rules, and Ive never had a problem confirming an SDC before, but curious if others have thoughts or actual experience with this?

And, if it makes sense to book a slightly higher fare class (can book into K, but would there be some worry that no Ks are available and the fare difference to move into S/T/W becomes insane)?

And finally, if it cant confirm, I assume I couldnt standby for a later flight, even if between status and available inventory it appears practically certain Id end up on the plane?

Thanks! Hope my rambling explanation of my question didnt confuse too many people .
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Old Oct 15, 18, 1:38 pm
  #4432  
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Originally Posted by littlejimmy112 View Post
So question is, has anyone ever booked a Friday flight with the intent of calling Friday to do an SDC to Saturday? Im 99% its allowed by the rules, and Ive never had a problem confirming an SDC before, but curious if others have thoughts or actual experience with this?
You can't SDC to the same flight 24 hours later. SDC only works when the new flight is within 24 hours. So you would have to SDC twice to move from the LAX-LHR nonstop on the 14th to the nonstop on the 15th. I'm assuming you're looking at a deep discount fare class, so there is certainly some risk in this scenario.

Why not just buy a connecting itinerary on the 15th? Or choose a different destination? If I'm doing a weekend mileage run, I'd really rather not deal with UK immigration.
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Old Oct 15, 18, 1:57 pm
  #4433  
 
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Thanks! Its realy a combo MR + UK weekend (I love LHR around Christmas!). Id actually be SDCing from a Friday afternoon flight to any Saturday AM flight, so would be good with the 24 hour window.

Not sure what what you mean by a connecting itinerary on the 15th?
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Old Oct 15, 18, 2:02 pm
  #4434  
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Originally Posted by littlejimmy112 View Post
Thanks! It’s realy a combo MR + UK weekend (I love LHR around Christmas!). I’d actually be SDCing from a Friday afternoon flight to any Saturday AM flight, so would be good with the 24 hour window. ...

As there is only 1 LAX-LHR daily, any valid options would need to be 1 or more connections. So you would need inventory availability on each of those flights (some well before the 24-hour window). SDCing in those cases can be more challenging (especially for deep discount fares).

As for standby, you can not standby for a later flight, only earlier.
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Old Oct 15, 18, 2:03 pm
  #4435  
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Originally Posted by littlejimmy112 View Post
Thanks! Its realy a combo MR + UK weekend (I love LHR around Christmas!). Id actually be SDCing from a Friday afternoon flight to any Saturday AM flight, so would be good with the 24 hour window.

Okay, so you're within SDC rules, and will just need fare class availability. The odds are pretty good you'll find an itinerary that works, just realize there's some risk everything is zeroed out in your fare class and you have to buy up to a more expensive fare.

Sorry, the comment about connecting itinerary was a non-sequitur - I agree you're running into a 3-day minimum stay requirement, and a connecting itinerary won't fix that.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 7:38 pm
  #4436  
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I almost always book directly at United.com. Just to be sure, SDC eligibility has nothing to do with how/where a ticket was booked, right? Thanks.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 7:49 pm
  #4437  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
Looks like I'll be flying SIN-SFO in late October, connecting to SFO-ORD-YYZ. Assuming I fly the rest of my planned trips and don't book anything else, I'll be about 400 PQM short of Plat.

Since this will be a rare trip on which I don't have a checked bag, I'm hoping to SDC the SFO-ORD-YYZ into something that yields an additional ~500 PQM, whether it's a connection somewhere like EWR or IAD, or by adding a short hop from SFO to LAX or LAS (which, obviously, would yield the 500 PQM minimum) on the front end.

This will be my first time thru SFO on United with status, and I know loads tend to be very high out of SFO. Are ex-SFO SDC options still common enough that I should be able to accomplish this? (This would likely be on a Tuesday.) Thanks.
I don't think you'll have too much of an issue unless there's a special occasion on the dates you want to fly. Also depends on booking class. You'll need to find SFO-XXX-YYZ options to SDC to, so EWR and IAD are possible, but I doubt the app will show you LAX or LAS since there's no UA flight from those cities to YYZ. I haven't seen a situation where the App gives me a 3 segment SDC option.

Another option is to fly SFO-ORD as ticketed then SDC to ORD-XXX-YYZ, if you don't find availability or good seating on ex-SFO options. Probably a few more miles too.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 9:09 pm
  #4438  
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Originally Posted by joe_miami View Post
I almost always book directly at United.com. Just to be sure, SDC eligibility has nothing to do with how/where a ticket was booked, right? Thanks.
The ticket needs to be issued on UA stock (016). If you were to book an all-UA itinerary via a travel agent or something, you'd be fine. If you were too buy it from another airline, you wouldn't be able to SDC.
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Old Oct 17, 18, 12:17 am
  #4439  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The ticket needs to be issued on UA stock (016). If you were to book an all-UA itinerary via a travel agent or something, you'd be fine. If you were too buy it from another airline, you wouldn't be able to SDC.
It also cannot be an opaque/BULK FARE ticket, which are sometimes issued by certain travel agents and credit card-affiliated booking websites.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 5:48 pm
  #4440  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
As for standby, you can not standby for a later flight, only earlier.
This is not correct - you ABSOLUTELY CAN stand by for a later flight, as long as it is on the same calendar day, and it obeys the other standby rules (same routing, for example, which would mean it wouldn't work for the person you were replying to.)
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