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

Old Jan 4, 2015, 3:01 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
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}
Print Wikipost

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

Old Jun 14, 2012, 5:31 am
  #1  
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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki) {Archive}

Foremost, I am a DL defector. Diamond actually. Been spoiled rotten with DL's SDC policy and unwritten Diamond perk to apply a co-terminal change with a SDC request. I don't use it often, but I've been successful 5/5 times I asked for it over the course of the year.

Question to GS and 1K flyers out there. Have you ever successfully gotten a co-terminal change along with SDC (not at the airport due to IRROPS). If so, under what circumstances?
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Old Jun 14, 2012, 6:30 am
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Originally Posted by muoitrieu
Foremost, I am a DL defector. Diamond actually. Been spoiled rotten with DL's SDC policy and unwritten Diamond perk to apply a co-terminal change with a SDC request. I don't use it often, but I've been successful 5/5 times I asked for it over the course of the year.

Question to GS and 1K flyers out there. Have you ever successfully gotten a co-terminal change along with SDC (not at the airport due to IRROPS). If so, under what circumstances?
nope. I've done it on a bump but not a SDC.
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Old Jun 14, 2012, 6:50 am
  #3  
 
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As a lowly plat, never had a problem doing it. If a rep won't do it call again.
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Old Jun 14, 2012, 7:43 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by HumbleBee
As a lowly plat, never had a problem doing it. If a rep won't do it call again.
The only place I've found it problematic are BWI to DCA tickets. Those seem to be specially flagged because xBWI is generally significantly cheaper than xDCA (although that generalization is fast disappearing) and the only reason anybody can think of for booking xBWI when in DC is to save money over the 10-minute ride to DCA.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 8:19 am
  #5  
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Thanks HumbleBee and Often1...so effectively UA's SDC policy is perhaps even better than DL's. I'm itching to try it out.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1
The only place I've found it problematic are BWI to DCA tickets. Those seem to be specially flagged because xBWI is generally significantly cheaper than xDCA (although that generalization is fast disappearing) and the only reason anybody can think of for booking xBWI when in DC is to save money over the 10-minute ride to DCA.
I find it hard to believe UA has a system sophisticated enough to figure that out & flag it (unless the rest are officially allowed even though unpublished). I would think it has more to do with the airport description that shows up when a CSR looks at it.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 5:15 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by HumbleBee
I find it hard to believe UA has a system sophisticated enough to figure that out & flag it (unless the rest are officially allowed even though unpublished). I would think it has more to do with the airport description that shows up when a CSR looks at it.
I've been caught by this way back in the day when trying to switch between ORD and MDW. The systems definitely can read the fare/routing rules and know if it is a valid switch or not.

More recently I've had a number of successful changes via the GS desk, though I do understand it isn't within the rules and not guaranteed.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 5:46 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12
I've been caught by this way back in the day when trying to switch between ORD and MDW. The systems definitely can read the fare/routing rules and know if it is a valid switch or not.

More recently I've had a number of successful changes via the GS desk, though I do understand it isn't within the rules and not guaranteed.
I was not under the impression that they check Fare/Routing rules, as when agent have to look that up (changing routing) it typically requires a long wait on hold while they contact the rates desk.
Since my co-terminal SDCs were processed immediately, I presume it is a regular SDC that does not require validity per any specfic fare. As such, presuming BWI/DCA is blocked by the system would necessiate other co-terminal SDCs being allowed by the system, which would make it an official (albeit non-published) benefit. Possible, but knowing UA more likely to be a fluke.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 6:21 pm
  #9  
 
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as far as coterminal switching as a GA, I have done it for passengers before... typical SDC charges apply as long as fare basis is available... othertimes it's a reissue of fare and sometimes I have given money back because of the fare difference... not what the company may want to hear but it's the //ATRE functionality of shares that requoted as such... not a typical outcome as I reitterate... //SDC usually covers just city pairs of the flights as that's what it was programmed for... it would give a connection over co-terminal response... co-terminal switching would have to be decided by an agent actully typiing the new flights in and reaccomodating as such... again fare rules apply in most cases but it's all a matter of functionality of SHARES and the willingness of an agent
to actually research into it and perform such actions... that's why I always CYA in reservations and document why such actions were performed... even when status allows free SDC...

Cheers
-CLE-
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 6:49 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by CleUnited
as far as coterminal switching as a GA, I have done it for passengers before... typical SDC charges apply as long as fare basis is available... othertimes it's a reissue of fare and sometimes I have given money back because of the fare difference... not what the company may want to hear but it's the //ATRE functionality of shares that requoted as such... not a typical outcome as I reitterate... //SDC usually covers just city pairs of the flights as that's what it was programmed for... it would give a connection over co-terminal response... co-terminal switching would have to be decided by an agent actully typiing the new flights in and reaccomodating as such... again fare rules apply in most cases but it's all a matter of functionality of SHARES and the willingness of an agent
to actually research into it and perform such actions... that's why I always CYA in reservations and document why such actions were performed... even when status allows free SDC...

Cheers
-CLE-
CYA is always the best policy...

As an 1K I've never had issues doing SDC to co-terminals such as JFK/LGA to EWR as long as there's a valid reason for the switch say i.e LAX-JFK is overbooked (but you know it won't go out oversold) so you encourage to help alleviate to switch to EWR... Most agents will gladly accommodate.
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Old Sep 24, 2012, 10:33 am
  #11  
 
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Standby/SDC Interchangeable Between DCA and IAD?

I'm booked on the new nonstop from DCA to SFO. Unfortunately, I may need to return late the previous evening, which would be out of IAD. Will UA offer that as an option for SDC, and/or will standby be possible? I'm asking this because DCA/IAD and LGA/JFK may uniquely be considered multi-airport cities instead of just co-terminals.
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Old Sep 24, 2012, 10:36 am
  #12  
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Officially no, it's not possible. Some people have reported success getting changes like this made at the airport though, which would be a big risk in your case since you want to change the origin rather than the destination.

I wouldn't try it unless you're prepared to make the trip for potentially nothing.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 7:23 pm
  #13  
 
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Are EWR and JFK considered to be same routing for SDC

Folks,

Did a search but was not able to find answer here or on .bomb.

I am due to fly SFO-EWR but interested in possibly changing to SFO-JFK. Is this considered the "same routing" for SDC purposes?

Thanks
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 7:27 pm
  #14  
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No. You may get lucky and find an agent that's willing to make the change but they are not obliged to.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 7:38 pm
  #15  
 
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I was told they are considered the same city (NYC) for purposes of routing, SDC, etc. of course, this means nothing as I was told this by an agent who allowed me to change flights from ORD-EWR to ORD-LGA
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