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

Old Jan 5, 18, 9:16 pm
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Last edit by: zebranz
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 be issued on UA ticket stock (ticket number begins with 016)
  • 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 to no longer be in effect.
  • 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 all 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 up to 24 hours of original departure on the day of departure at an airport kiosk or with a United representative at the airport or UA app. 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: Can now request Standby via app 24 hours in advance
  • 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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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions -Free STBY for all, SDC for all elites

Old Oct 21, 22, 7:01 am
  #1051  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Originally Posted by hkcj View Post
The problem is that I already checked in, then switched flights; it's not offering me to upgrade any more when I try to go through the check-in process again. The phone agent told me "it automatic", and they couldn't put me on the list.

I got them to check me out and it's *still* not showing me the option as I go through check-in.

I wonder if the same-day flight change somehow messed things up.
Switching flights shouldn't affect it, but if you already declined when checking in, it's an uphill battle to get back on. It's possible, but not easy, and it doesn't always turn out correctly (may be at the bottom of the list).
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Old Oct 25, 22, 5:36 pm
  #1052  
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I tried an agent to get an exception to take an earlier flight on the second leg of an itinerary. The first flight I'm already ticketed on did not have the fare class to allow it so it was not offered online and is against SDC rules, but I thought maybe I can get an exception, but was not approved.

I rarely fly standby. What is the best way to put oneself on standby at the airport? Is it straightforward using the kiosk or better to use an agent? Thanks!
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Old Oct 25, 22, 5:46 pm
  #1053  
 
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Originally Posted by CApreppie View Post
I tried an agent to get an exception to take an earlier flight on the second leg of an itinerary. The first flight I'm already ticketed on did not have the fare class to allow it so it was not offered online and is against SDC rules, but I thought maybe I can get an exception, but was not approved.

I rarely fly standby. What is the best way to put oneself on standby at the airport? Is it straightforward using the kiosk or better to use an agent? Thanks!
Try the app first. If that does not work (usually not), try a kiosk. If that does not, try the club (if accessible) or a customer service desk. If that doesn't work, try the gate.
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Old Oct 25, 22, 9:31 pm
  #1054  
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Try the app first. If that does not work (usually not), try a kiosk. If that does not, try the club (if accessible) or a customer service desk. If that doesn't work, try the gate.
Thank you! The first agent I spoke to ended up having the flight I wanted to added to my reservation along with my existing ticketed flight. Needless to say it messed up my itinerary when trying to access via the app and online. Called back and they ended up putting me on the flight I wanted at no charge. It looked 100 percent likely I was going to make standby on it anyways.
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Old Oct 25, 22, 10:10 pm
  #1055  
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Originally Posted by CApreppie View Post
Thank you! The first agent I spoke to ended up having the flight I wanted to added to my reservation along with my existing ticketed flight. Needless to say it messed up my itinerary when trying to access via the app and online. Called back and they ended up putting me on the flight I wanted at no charge. It looked 100 percent likely I was going to make standby on it anyways.
What you described is the standby process: you're on both flights -- your confirmed flight and the standby flight. It shouldn't have messed up your itinerary at all, if it was done properly; it might have just made it look a little weird.

That said, SDC at a connecting airport should only require inventory on the target flight, so since you said the problem originally was that there was no additional inventory on your first leg, it makes sense that you'd have been able to SDC once you arrived -- which is ultimately what the agent did.
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Old Oct 25, 22, 10:32 pm
  #1056  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
What you described is the standby process: you're on both flights -- your confirmed flight and the standby flight. It shouldn't have messed up your itinerary at all, if it was done properly; it might have just made it look a little weird.

That said, SDC at a connecting airport should only require inventory on the target flight, so since you said the problem originally was that there was no additional inventory on your first leg, it makes sense that you'd have been able to SDC once you arrived -- which is ultimately what the agent did.
I didn't see my name on the standby list of the desired flight even though I was on the upgrade waitlist of the desired flight. I could not check in to the flight again to change seats or check anything via the app and then the website gave more information about having identical flights on my itinerary. Seems unlikely this was the correct behavior.
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Old Oct 25, 22, 10:35 pm
  #1057  
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Originally Posted by CApreppie View Post
I didn't see my name on the standby list of the desired flight even though I was on the upgrade waitlist of the desired flight. I could not check in to the flight again to change seats or check anything via the app and then the website gave more information about having identical flights on my itinerary. Seems unlikely this was the correct behavior.
I agree, if you were on the upgrade list but not the standby list, somebody messed something up during that process. You must have been confirmed on both flights.
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Old Oct 26, 22, 1:20 am
  #1058  
 
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Originally Posted by CApreppie View Post
I didn't see my name on the standby list of the desired flight even though I was on the upgrade waitlist of the desired flight. I could not check in to the flight again to change seats or check anything via the app and then the website gave more information about having identical flights on my itinerary. Seems unlikely this was the correct behavior.
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I agree, if you were on the upgrade list but not the standby list, somebody messed something up during that process. You must have been confirmed on both flights.
I think that is the correct explanation. I've had it happen when I accepted VDB with a connection and needed my connecting flight moved later, and the GA was in a hurry to do everything while still getting the oversold flight out on time. So I wound up with both my original and my new connecting flight confirmed on the reservation.

For future reference -- at that point, you could have asked for an(other) agent to just remove the first flight, and then you've lucked into avoiding standby. For my case, an agent at the club was able to fix it up in a few minutes when I said which flight I didn't need.
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Old Oct 26, 22, 1:11 pm
  #1059  
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Booked AAA-CCC, can one SDC to AAA-BBB-CCC, even though fare rules do not allow connection via BBB as the trip currently is ticketed?
(Changing res to include connection would incurr change to a higher fare)
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Old Oct 26, 22, 2:00 pm
  #1060  
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Originally Posted by cesco.g View Post
Booked AAA-CCC, can one SDC to AAA-BBB-CCC, even though fare rules do not allow connection via BBB as the trip currently is ticketed?
(Changing res to include connection would incurr change to a higher fare)
Maybe. Sometimes the app will offer it. There's a better chance if BBB is a hub than if you're trying to do something like turn SFO-IAD into SFO-AUS-IAD.
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Old Oct 26, 22, 9:40 pm
  #1061  
 
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Originally Posted by cesco.g View Post
Booked AAA-CCC, can one SDC to AAA-BBB-CCC, even though fare rules do not allow connection via BBB as the trip currently is ticketed?
(Changing res to include connection would incurr change to a higher fare)
Is the issue the fare doesn't actually allow it (ie the routing filed for the fare doesn't have BBB listed)? Or is it there isn't availability of your fare level on AAA-BBB-CCC? If the former - no SDC (and SDS) can't be done since those still need to comply with the fare rules. If the later, SDC technically can't be done since you need same fare level to SDC, but SDS can.
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Old Oct 26, 22, 9:52 pm
  #1062  
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Originally Posted by Lux Flyer View Post
Is the issue the fare doesn't actually allow it (ie the routing filed for the fare doesn't have BBB listed)? Or is it there isn't availability of your fare level on AAA-BBB-CCC? If the former - no SDC (and SDS) can't be done since those still need to comply with the fare rules. If the later, SDC technically can't be done since you need same fare level to SDC, but SDS can.
Huh?

(a) The app occasionally ignores routing rules for SDC. (It used to do it routinely; that seems to have stopped, however).
(b) Standby on an alternate routing, compared to what's currently booked, isn't generally allowed. UA doesn't want you to end up in BBB without a confirmed seat to CCC. Some agents may do it, but it's very much YMMV. To suggest that standby is possible as long as the routing is valid is... optimistic.
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Old Oct 26, 22, 9:54 pm
  #1063  
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Originally Posted by Lux Flyer View Post
... but SDS can.
Routing changes not allowed for standby.
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Old Oct 28, 22, 12:28 am
  #1064  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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if you have no UA status, can you still do SDC for free? UA website said you have to pay fare difference.

so the only way to make last min change is through stand-by? can you do stand-by change if you have check-in bag?

how do you check if UA ticket has 016 stock? i cant find this info on my UA booking at UA website, nor can i find it on my credit card statement...
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Old Oct 28, 22, 12:50 am
  #1065  
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Originally Posted by gnomey View Post
if you have no UA status, can you still do SDC for free? UA website said you have to pay fare difference.
I suspect the website is accurate.

Originally Posted by gnomey View Post
so the only way to make last min change is through stand-by? can you do stand-by change if you have check-in bag?
You generally cannot standby with checked luggage. There's a procedure for it, but most agents will simply refuse to do it.

Originally Posted by gnomey View Post
how do you check if UA ticket has 016 stock? i cant find this info on my UA booking at UA website, nor can i find it on my credit card statement...
If you bought the ticket from UA, it's 016.
If you bought the ticket from a third party, but every flight has a UA flight number, and it's not an award ticket, it's 016.
Otherwise, you need to find the ticket number, which would be located on the receipt.
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