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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions -Free STBY for all, SDC for all elites

UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions -Free STBY for all, SDC for all elites

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Old Sep 27, 22, 1:31 am   -   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 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:
  • Not available for Basic Economy (N class) tickets
  • 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.
  • Must 016 UA ticket stock
  • Award tickets are eligible, but an award change may be a better option (not restricted to 24 hours)
  • 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 a 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 non-Premiers Only premier members as of 1 Jan 2021
  • No fee for Premier (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. The practice of fare leveling all fares for all flights at a specific time appears no longer in effective
  • 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)
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours after the original flight, if the original flight has been delayed: Y (at least in the app)
  • 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 potentially dire consequences)
  • Change from an upgraded flight into Y on the new flight: Y
  • Change from a PointsPlus-upgraded flight into J/F on the new flight: A
  • Change from a CPU-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available PZ space on the new flight: N*
  • Change from an instrument-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available PZ 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: A - 60 minutes prior to both flights required
  • Change at layover airport when a bag has been checked: A - 60 minutes prior to both flights required
  • Change a bulk fare: A*
  • Stand-By to later flight, then SDC after original flight departs to flight within 24-hours of new Stand-By flight: Y

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

The practice of fare leveling all fares for all flights at a specific time appears no longer in effective -- it does happen in some case but appears to be more variable

Standby
For fare classes other than Basic Economy (N class) you may standby if seats are not available in the purchased fare class. There is no longer a fee for Standby. 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?
Yes 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.

Standby Nuances and Loose Rules

All nuances assume request is made within 24 hours of scheduled departure to a flight within 24 hours of the request.

For each item, the following codes apply:
Y = officially permitted and possible using any method
K = Perhaps not officially permitted, but kiosk will allow.
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.
  • To a flight the previous calendar day: A*/N*
  • To a flight after your ticketed flight, on the same calendar day: Y
  • To a flight the following calendar day: N*
  • Request Standby at an airport other than departure airport: ?
  • Make request calendar day before scheduled flight to flight same day as scheduled departure: K

Mileage Credit after SDC
SDC is considered a voluntary change, so your credited PQM & PQS will be credited based on the route you actually fly. Your PQDs should not change and therefore for your RDMs will not change. Occasionally if you fly a fewer number of segments, your PQD will credit wrong, but a call to MPSC should correct that.

Previous threads:
UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki) {Archive}
UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions *now with WikiPost* {pre-2015 Archive}
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:17 am
  #976  
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Originally Posted by JALsnipe View Post
Yeah, expert mode isn't enough anymore
You need to do a new dummy booking on united.com and verify the ticket actually books into C (shows C under the earnings/details dropdown), or use a tool like ITA Matrix to verify that a C fare is actually available for sale.
Not true. There's effectively no way to do what you're trying to do here. You don't need a currently-available C fare to SDC if your original fare still applies.

Originally Posted by United747 View Post
Could it be that the fare doesn’t allow the non-stop? Per United, you can only change routing -
UA does publish a limited number of fares with non-stop travel disallowed.

OP: Did you book this into C originally, or did you accept an upgrade offer?
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:18 am
  #977  
 
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Originally Posted by JALsnipe View Post
Yeah, expert mode isn't enough anymore
You need to do a new dummy booking on united.com and verify the ticket actually books into C (shows C under the earnings/details dropdown), or use a tool like ITA Matrix to verify that a C fare is actually available for sale.
nah even if the dummy booking doesn't book into C fare on united.com, it doesn't necessarily mean C fare class isn't available - it only means you can't get C fare "somehow" (eg. no published fare and/or fare class is actually unavailable). SDC only requires inventory to be available and not the corresponding fare to be published.

EF will show the true inventory unlike UA website/app.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:22 am
  #978  
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Originally Posted by leftysauce View Post
EF will show the true inventory unlike UA website/app.
Good point.

Assuming OP is talking about a current SDC attempt, as opposed to something tried a few days ago, in ExpertFlyer, I see J1 C1 on the 6:50 PM flight today, but J1 C0 on the 12:35 AM red-eye.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:31 am
  #979  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Good point.

Assuming OP is talking about a current SDC attempt, as opposed to something tried a few days ago, in ExpertFlyer, I see J1 C1 on the 6:50 PM flight today, but J1 C0 on the 12:35 AM red-eye.
Yes, it’s for today’s 6:50pm.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:38 am
  #980  
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Originally Posted by AirbusFan2B View Post
Yes, it’s for today’s 6:50pm.
In that case, unless you upgraded via buy-ups, in which case SDC is very much YMMV, I'd HUCA.

While I'm personally of the opinion that, for differentially-priced fares, UA should probably validate both the underlying Y inventory along with the J inventory in order to allow an SDC, I haven't seen any evidence that they're actually doing that. C inventory by itself should be sufficient.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:53 am
  #981  
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Not true. There's effectively no way to do what you're trying to do here. You don't need a currently-available C fare to SDC if your original fare still applies.
Originally Posted by leftysauce View Post
nah even if the dummy booking doesn't book into C fare on united.com, it doesn't necessarily mean C fare class isn't available - it only means you can't get C fare "somehow" (eg. no published fare and/or fare class is actually unavailable). SDC only requires inventory to be available and not the corresponding fare to be published.
Interesting, thank you for the correction. So even if there's C only available via a married segment and not nonstop flight that you're actually taking, you can still SDC because there's C inventory available?
I'll go amend my post to use EF only.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 12:04 pm
  #982  
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Originally Posted by JALsnipe View Post
Interesting, thank you for the correction. So even if there's C only available via a married segment and not nonstop flight that you're actually taking, you can still SDC because there's C inventory available?
No, in that case, you wouldn't be able to SDC to it. You need inventory on the intended itinerary. What you don't need is a valid fare.

It may not be an issue with C, but it's definitely an issue for discount economy. I have a flight coming up in W that I'd like to SDC. It's quite likely that there will not be a 0-advance-purchase W fare available -- generally those require an H, an E, or even higher (admittedly, it varies by market, but for the sake of argument, let's assume this is the case). If there is W inventory on EF for the itinerary I want to take, I will be able to SDC, even though I could not buy a W fare due to the AP restrictions.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 12:14 pm
  #983  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
What you don't need is a valid fare.
...
If there is W inventory on EF for the itinerary I want to take, I will be able to SDC, even though I could not buy a W fare due to the AP restrictions.
Thank you! Ah yes this makes more sense. UA used to be much better at making all fare classes available close to departure for SDC (regardless of if you could actually book the fare as I now realized) but it seems like they've stopped doing that over the past few years. 😕
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Old Sep 22, 22, 3:45 pm
  #984  
 
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Originally Posted by AirbusFan2B View Post
Tried to same-day change LAS-DEN-ORD confirmed in C bucket to LAS-ORD (inventory J1 C1) but app wouldn’t do it. Called 1K and UA wants $800K to do it. Is there an additional rule (new?) beyond wiki: “No fare difference is charged so long as there is availability on all of the new segments in the originally ticketed fare class”?
I imagine it was actually either $800 or $8k = $8000, rather than $800k = $800000?

Inventory concerns aside, agree with HUCA suggestion above. And if HUCA fails, maybe try an agent at the airport (assuming seat is still open when you get there).
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Old Sep 22, 22, 4:02 pm
  #985  
 
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
I imagine it was actually either $800 or $8k = $8000, rather than $800k = $800000?

Inventory concerns aside, agree with HUCA suggestion above. And if HUCA fails, maybe try an agent at the airport (assuming seat is still open when you get there).
LOL - my bad typo, just $800. But… thank you jsloan for suggesting HUACA. That did the trick! This is why I come to this community time and again. I was offered a choice of two seats so obviously there was an inventory increase since earlier today.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 9:45 pm
  #986  
 
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
I imagine it was actually either $800 or $8k = $8000, rather than $800k = $800000?
I imagined, by UA's historical math (where 1K = 100,000), that $800K meant $80,000,000.

It did seem a bit steep.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 7:46 am
  #987  
 
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Kettle flying UA for only the second time next month. I've got a very early flight from my outstation to ORD, then a 3.75 hour layover before continuing on to MCO. There is an earlier flight to MCO that is scheduled to take off 25 minutes after I land at ORD. I know I can't make that if both flights are on time, but if the earlier flight gets delayed to make the 60 minute minimum would I be able to SB on that flight? Would my checked bag make it? Or should I just absolutely resign myself to being on the 753 later?
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Old Sep 23, 22, 8:32 am
  #988  
 
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Originally Posted by EAJuggalo View Post
Kettle flying UA for only the second time next month. I've got a very early flight from my outstation to ORD, then a 3.75 hour layover before continuing on to MCO. There is an earlier flight to MCO that is scheduled to take off 25 minutes after I land at ORD. I know I can't make that if both flights are on time, but if the earlier flight gets delayed to make the 60 minute minimum would I be able to SB on that flight? Would my checked bag make it? Or should I just absolutely resign myself to being on the 753 later?
Yes, you can standby at a connection point. When you are onboard the first flight, try the wifi to see if the app will let you add yourself to standby list. Or when you get to ORD, hurry to gate and see if agent will still add you.

Given those flight timings, however, I think you will very likely be too late arriving at ORD to get onto the earlier ORD-MCO.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 9:28 am
  #989  
 
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Yes, you can standby at a connection point. When you are onboard the first flight, try the wifi to see if the app will let you add yourself to standby list. Or when you get to ORD, hurry to gate and see if agent will still add you.

Given those flight timings, however, I think you will very likely be too late arriving at ORD to get onto the earlier ORD-MCO.
Any chance of my checked bag making it on the flight if I do?
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Old Sep 23, 22, 9:28 am
  #990  
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Originally Posted by EAJuggalo View Post
Kettle flying UA for only the second time next month. I've got a very early flight from my outstation to ORD, then a 3.75 hour layover before continuing on to MCO. There is an earlier flight to MCO that is scheduled to take off 25 minutes after I land at ORD. I know I can't make that if both flights are on time, but if the earlier flight gets delayed to make the 60 minute minimum would I be able to SB on that flight? Would my checked bag make it? Or should I just absolutely resign myself to being on the 753 later?
If the earlier flight is delayed, you would be able to change to it if a seat is available in your fare class and if you find an agent who's in a good mood.

Flying standby with a checked bag is extremely difficult, as most agents will flat-out refuse. There's no realistic way to tag a bag as standby after check-in, and there wouldn't be time to re-tag the bag. The funny thing is, SOP is for them to put the bag onto the next departing flight anyway. They'd rather have the bag early at your destination than sitting around the baggage room at ORD. If you manage to get someone to do it, you will probably need to sign a baggage waiver and disclaim delivery -- you'll need to go back to the airport to get the bag yourself.

If you want to try this, consider traveling with only a carry-on. If you need more luggage than that, ask yourself if FedEx or UPS might be worth it, considering that you'll be saving the checked baggage fee.

Note that none of this will work if you booked their discount Basic Economy ticket, which doesn't allow carry-on bags or changes.
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