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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
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
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 Nov 18, 22, 6:39 am
  #1111  
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Originally Posted by LandMiler View Post
Finally, I could do same day confirmation while keeping NH metal flight. UA app showed me the available flight during check-in. Nothing has change d on IAD-HND sector.
UA --> NH is much easier than NH --> UA for SDC. You can SDC per segment and if your UA segment is first then that is 'easy' ... NH TPAC connecting to UA domestic is far more complex.
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Old Nov 18, 22, 9:18 am
  #1112  
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
UA --> NH is much easier than NH --> UA for SDC. You can SDC per segment and if your UA segment is first then that is 'easy' ... NH TPAC connecting to UA domestic is far more complex.
Huh? This is the first time that I’ve ever seen an example of someone being able to SDC prior to an OAL flight. SDC “per segment” has never been a thing — you’ve always needed your current fare class to be available on your new flight also. In fact, for several years, UA would rarely / never show you SDC options that included a flight you were already on.
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Old Nov 18, 22, 11:49 am
  #1113  
 
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my upgrade/SDC saga continues... I might need some more help from the experts here

I'm booked on UA101 IAH-SYD departing at 8:15pm tonight. Upgrade chances are non-existent. UA839 LAX-SYD tomorrow night looks like a way better bet. I would like to change to this flight. I called to make the SDC, and requested UA1463/UA839. The first flight would leave IAH at 6:46pm, so within 24 hours of the original flight. I am booked on a W fare, and W is showing as available on both flights on expertflyer. United shows W inventory on expert mode, but it can't be booked together

The agent tried to make the change and it didn't work so she called through to the rates desk. They said that because I am booked on a non-stop flight, and I am trying to swap to a connecting flight, they can't process a same day change and will have to re-fare the entire ticket, which leads to a change fee of approx $3,000 per person. I am also upgraded for the return flight already so I don't want them to touch that at all.

Is there a way to do this, or am I out of luck?
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Old Nov 18, 22, 12:29 pm
  #1114  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Originally Posted by david_oz View Post
my upgrade/SDC saga continues... I might need some more help from the experts here

I'm booked on UA101 IAH-SYD departing at 8:15pm tonight. Upgrade chances are non-existent. UA839 LAX-SYD tomorrow night looks like a way better bet. I would like to change to this flight. I called to make the SDC, and requested UA1463/UA839. The first flight would leave IAH at 6:46pm, so within 24 hours of the original flight. I am booked on a W fare, and W is showing as available on both flights on expertflyer. United shows W inventory on expert mode, but it can't be booked together

The agent tried to make the change and it didn't work so she called through to the rates desk. They said that because I am booked on a non-stop flight, and I am trying to swap to a connecting flight, they can't process a same day change and will have to re-fare the entire ticket, which leads to a change fee of approx $3,000 per person. I am also upgraded for the return flight already so I don't want them to touch that at all.

Is there a way to do this, or am I out of luck?
Problem #1: you must be within 24 hours of the NEW flight, not your existing flight. So if IAH-LAX departs at 646pm on Saturday, you cannot attempt the SDC until 646pm on Friday. It's only 1226pm CT on Friday right now so you're ~6 hours too soon.

That may be your only problem actually. Once that window opens you should be free to SDC to it. However, do keep in mind that SDC is now enforcing routing rules so if the fare code you booked only allows routing on the non-stop flight then you will have a hard time SDC'ing. I would need to know your ticketing date to look up the historical fare rules for the "W" fare. A quick glance in EF just now shows the cheapest "W" fare allowing routing through any connection point in the US so that may not be an issue (good for you).

Try again at 646pm tonight. The issue you'll have is if you're unsuccessful doing this change you are running super late for your IAH-SYD today. Alternatively, take an SDC now for an earlier IAH-LAX flight. Since LAX-SYD only has one flight a day you are allowed to have longer than 4 hour layover there on your ticket. Then later you can try to SDC to a later IAH-LAX flight. Currently showing the 948am flight has "W" open. The 234pm also does (but it's beyond 24 hours as of this moment).

-RM
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Old Nov 18, 22, 12:50 pm
  #1115  
 
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
Problem #1: you must be within 24 hours of the NEW flight, not your existing flight. So if IAH-LAX departs at 646pm on Saturday, you cannot attempt the SDC until 646pm on Friday. It's only 1226pm CT on Friday right now so you're ~6 hours too soon.

That may be your only problem actually. Once that window opens you should be free to SDC to it. However, do keep in mind that SDC is now enforcing routing rules so if the fare code you booked only allows routing on the non-stop flight then you will have a hard time SDC'ing. I would need to know your ticketing date to look up the historical fare rules for the "W" fare. A quick glance in EF just now shows the cheapest "W" fare allowing routing through any connection point in the US so that may not be an issue (good for you).

Try again at 646pm tonight. The issue you'll have is if you're unsuccessful doing this change you are running super late for your IAH-SYD today. Alternatively, take an SDC now for an earlier IAH-LAX flight. Since LAX-SYD only has one flight a day you are allowed to have longer than 4 hour layover there on your ticket. Then later you can try to SDC to a later IAH-LAX flight. Currently showing the 948am flight has "W" open. The 234pm also does (but it's beyond 24 hours as of this moment).

-RM
Take an earlier IAH-LAX flight so that you can do SDC earlier if W is available on this flight. For example, there is a 2:34 pm IAH-LAX for tomorrow with W fare. The downside is that you will have a long layover at LAX.

Edit: if this works at 3:24 pm today, you will do the second SDC to the later IAH-LAX at 6:46 pm.
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Old Nov 18, 22, 12:54 pm
  #1116  
 
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Originally Posted by Kmxu View Post
Take an earlier IAH-LAX flight so that you can do SDC earlier if W is available on this flight. For example, there is a 2:34 pm IAH-LAX for tomorrow with W fare. The downside is that you will have a long layover at LAX.
Yes, that's what I put in my reply to david_oz . However, it's 1253pm CT so still 1h40m away from being able to SDC to the 2:34pm. They can take the 948am flight for now which has "W" open and then at least be able to get confirmed on the LAX-SYD flight and move their PlusPoints request over.

-RM
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Old Nov 18, 22, 1:39 pm
  #1117  
 
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it turns out that was the issue (or one of them at least).

I called back and asked to change to a flight which departed at 12:24pm, within 24 hours of now. It took a long time on hold and she came back with a fare difference of $900 each. I questioned why there was a fare difference when W availability was there, and she put me on hold. Right when she put me on hold I realized there actually isn't W availability, and I should have requested an earlier flight. Anyways, she came back 10 mins or so later and said she made the change.

Unfortunately the result isn't quite as good as what I had hoped for. We are #6 and #7 on the list with 9 seats currently available. #1 and #2 for PY which is fully booked. They are selling upgrades for $600 to PY and $2300 to J. So unfortunately this one isn't looking like a slam dunk either, but the chances are significantly better than what we had on the prior flight. Thanks everyone for your help
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Old Nov 18, 22, 1:54 pm
  #1118  
 
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Originally Posted by david_oz View Post
it turns out that was the issue (or one of them at least).

I called back and asked to change to a flight which departed at 12:24pm, within 24 hours of now. It took a long time on hold and she came back with a fare difference of $900 each. I questioned why there was a fare difference when W availability was there, and she put me on hold. Right when she put me on hold I realized there actually isn't W availability, and I should have requested an earlier flight. Anyways, she came back 10 mins or so later and said she made the change.

Unfortunately the result isn't quite as good as what I had hoped for. We are #6 and #7 on the list with 9 seats currently available. #1 and #2 for PY which is fully booked. They are selling upgrades for $600 to PY and $2300 to J. So unfortunately this one isn't looking like a slam dunk either, but the chances are significantly better than what we had on the prior flight. Thanks everyone for your help
Yep, that's why i said you need to get on the 948am You can move to the 234pm soon enough.

As for LAX-SYD upgrade...I think I mentioned in the other thread that the chances weren't great, especially to delay your trip for a day. What's working for you right now is #1 and #2 on the Polaris upgrade list are already in PY which will open up seats for you and the +1 to get the upgrade. That could happen as early as T-24 though unlikely as PY is likely oversold. Your chances aren't 0% for Polaris but they don't look great. I'd put your chances of PY at 75+%.

-RM
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Old Nov 18, 22, 2:39 pm
  #1119  
 
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thanks! continued the discussion in the other thread
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Old Nov 18, 22, 8:54 pm
  #1120  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Huh? This is the first time that I’ve ever seen an example of someone being able to SDC prior to an OAL flight. SDC “per segment” has never been a thing — you’ve always needed your current fare class to be available on your new flight also. In fact, for several years, UA would rarely / never show you SDC options that included a flight you were already on.
I have been able to do this. Partner segment stays the same, connecting UA flight changed to earlier/later. Never tried on the app ... only on the phone. I assume there will be limitations; if the partner segment is not UA coded or if the booking class is not available since the ticket needs to be re-issued. So yes ... the booking class still needs to be available ... that is the rule for SDC.
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Old Nov 19, 22, 7:45 pm
  #1121  
 
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
I have been able to do this. Partner segment stays the same, connecting UA flight changed to earlier/later. Never tried on the app ... only on the phone. I assume there will be limitations; if the partner segment is not UA coded or if the booking class is not available since the ticket needs to be re-issued. So yes ... the booking class still needs to be available ... that is the rule for SDC.
About the inventory of NH sector, If my memory serves, J=7, G=4, Y=0 at T-24. Expert Flyer's seat map returned error for Y caibin from around T-48.
I remenber that I hoped If I can get upgrade to PY but it didn't happen and only got packed into full Y cabin.
Seat assignment in not changed over SDC.

Last edited by LandMiler; Nov 19, 22 at 8:04 pm
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Old Nov 22, 22, 1:15 am
  #1122  
 
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For a member with no status, if they have a flight booked with mileage from AAA-BBB-CCC, would they be able to standby for an earlier direct flight from AAA-CCC at the airport? As 1K, I have done this many times with no issue, but was just wondering if it would be a problem for someone without status.
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Old Nov 22, 22, 10:53 am
  #1123  
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Originally Posted by pregabalin View Post
For a member with no status, if they have a flight booked with mileage from AAA-BBB-CCC, would they be able to standby for an earlier direct flight from AAA-CCC at the airport? As 1K, I have done this many times with no issue, but was just wondering if it would be a problem for someone without status.
Even as a 1K I've had some problems doing this. Recently I had a ticket counter agent tell me it was impossible (because they didn't want to go through the effort required -- it's a much different setup when changing the number of segments). The gate agent, hwever, was able to put me SBY with a bit of typing. For a no-status passenger it is possible, but one has to find an agent willing to go through the effort of setting it up.
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Old Nov 22, 22, 11:53 am
  #1124  
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Originally Posted by pregabalin View Post
For a member with no status, if they have a flight booked with mileage from AAA-BBB-CCC, would they be able to standby for an earlier direct flight from AAA-CCC at the airport? As 1K, I have done this many times with no issue, but was just wondering if it would be a problem for someone without status.
unlike elites, a fare difference will apply to non-elites
If you’re a customer or MileagePlus member without Premier® status, you may be able to confirm a seat on another flight within 24 hours of your originally scheduled departure time. A fare difference may apply even if the same original fare class is available. And don’t forget — you can always stand by for free.
Note Standby does not allow routing changes but changing to a direct flight an agent may do.
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Old Nov 23, 22, 3:33 pm
  #1125  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
unlike elites, a fare difference will apply to non-elites

Note Standby does not allow routing changes but changing to a direct flight an agent may do.
I know technically you aren't allowed to standby for a different routing, but in the past when I've asked at checkin to standby for an earlier direct flight when booked on a flight with connection, no one has ever given me a problem.
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