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

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

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Old Nov 30, 19, 2:45 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
  • 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 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)
  • 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 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: 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
Standby
For fare classes other than Basic Economy (N class) 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.

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
original posting by mgcsinc, initiated by jackal

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, 19, 2:54 pm
  #1486  
 
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Thanks for the comments. This is the only UA sector on this ticket but it's not the last sector (still fly back to NZ afterwards). I was pretty sure I had done this before with no issue but it is possible this was a standalone UA ticket that I changed which I'm aware is not an issue for *G. The risks of something going wrong probably outweigh any benefits right now!
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Old Sep 24, 19, 7:40 pm
  #1487  
 
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Originally Posted by venomtrilogy View Post
It looks like the last many attempts in this thread to SDC a UA codeshare to UA metal haven't worked out. But this used to have a better success rate, right?
I recently tried to change a LH-LH trip back from Europe on a UA ticket to a UA direct flight, but two calls and both agents said they would only do changes from UA-operated flights, regardless of ticket stock. And yes, they used to change non-UA codeshare to UA flights more readily in the past.

Ended up oversold in Premium Economy on the LH flight and got bumped to J so it all worked out in the end.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 8:50 am
  #1488  
 
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Success report: booked on Air Canada with mileage plus number. purchased upgrade to P from V via United mobile app a week prior. assigned seat in first. at T-24 offered SDC (in P class with seat in first) through hub city increasing to two segments from one segment. accepted offer of SDC in unted app.

result was that seats were reserved but didnt ticket because stock was not 016. called customer service. got a little push back, but eventually convinced them it was their problem because they made me an offer and I accepted. I am not a lawyer, but generally, that's how contracts are created. anyway, they confirmed me on the new flights and i secured seats in first.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 8:56 am
  #1489  
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Originally Posted by elbejt2 View Post
Success report: booked on Air Canada with mileage plus number. purchased upgrade to P from V via United mobile app a week prior. assigned seat in first. at T-24 offered SDC (in P class with seat in first) through hub city increasing to two segments from one segment. accepted offer of SDC in unted app.
The upgrade you purchased was non-transferrable.

Originally Posted by elbejt2 View Post
result was that seats were reserved but didnt ticket because stock was not 016.
The T&C clearly state that you cannot SDC on tickets not issued by United.

Originally Posted by elbejt2 View Post
that's how contracts are created.
Contracts are created when you read them and abide by the terms in them. You got lucky.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 2:48 pm
  #1490  
 
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I can't debate the legal merits. But seems like United bears some responsibility considering they are making an unsolicited offer to customers via their own phone app.

Maybe I am wrong, but I do not recall terms and conditions attached or referenced in their offer.

As a company, United has made a choice that they are better off financially from rolling out half baked applications (as they undoubtedly know app works in the majority of instances but does not work in specific instances).

As you pointed out though, luck did play a part. I was aware of the risks as I proceeded.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 9:50 pm
  #1491  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Just as if you were on P, you need P -- J will not work.
I somewhat combed the thread to see my situation tonight and didn’t see it. Apologies if it’s been covered (it’s not in the wiki)...

I had originally booked and paid for a P fare, all on United metal. I finished work early and saw space on an earlier flight that went something like this:

F1 J1 D1 C1 P1 Y0 B0 M0...Basically one seat left in F, Y sold out. On the app, I didn’t see the flight as an option to SDC onto (saw the fare buckets when searching for a revenue seat). Called 1K line, and received the (in)famous:

“You’re not seeing it because ‘You’re on a coach fare that came with a free upgrade to first(TM)’, since there’s no coach space to SDC into, it’s not an option...And there’s nothing we can do about it, maybe go to the airport and stand by.”

HUCA

2nd agent was almost verbatim:“You’re not seeing it because ‘You’re on a coach fare that came with a free upgrade to first(TM)’”. HOWEVER: “Let me call the rate desk to see what we can do.

Agent moved me to the flight, and all was well that ended well, but A) Despite many P-fares for me, this was the first time I’ve ever heard the ‘coach fare with a free upgrade’ line reported here so often, and B) Is it really policy that you can’t SDC to a flight booked in P unless there is a seat in Y? By the app not offering the flight, it makes sense that it is indeed policy.

This was not an upfare, UFC, TOD or any other pseudo- or actual upgrade. When I booked the ticket, I searched for first fares, I clicked on and purchased a first class ticket. But back-end, buried fare classes preventing me from SDC? That is new to me since SDC became a thing.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 9:56 pm
  #1492  
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Originally Posted by MBS MillionMiler View Post
... This was not an upfare, UFC, TOD or any other pseudo- or actual upgrade. When I booked the ticket, I searched for first fares, I clicked on and purchased a first class ticket. But back-end, buried fare classes preventing me from SDC? That is new to me since SDC became a thing.
This is a long-running issue. Yes, you purchased (a deep discount) first class fare but part of that fare rule require fare inventory in P and a particular economy fare class (such as S, W, V ,Q, ...) inventory at time of purchase. UA has been on-off in enforcing this requirement for SDC. The app has generally been OK, phone agents less so.

The agent statements are backwards but correct you need both fare classes.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 10:07 pm
  #1493  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
UA has been on-off in enforcing this requirement for SDC. The app has generally been OK, phone agents less so.
Thanks for the info. I didn’t know, and I mostly buy P-fares with little trouble changing them (it’s more likely that I can find Y inventory yet no P, so I know those are ‘out’ anyway).

But odd that I get the opposite of what you report...App showed nothing, yet (2nd) phone agent was able to get it done for me.

Can’t say I understand the logic, but it’s United being United.

Funnier thing was that I checked in right after I hung up with the agent and got the ‘volunteer your seat’ message. I put in $500. 30 mins later, my phone rang as I was in security and missed the call, it was the gate agent trying to reach me to verify that I wanted to IDB. Turns out they didn’t need the seat, but funny that they’d oversell the seat for the sake of an SDC—even if my fare class wasn’t ‘quite’ eligible, although they’d have done it for someone in Z or higher that wanted to move.

Last edited by MBS MillionMiler; Sep 26, 19 at 10:14 pm
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Old Sep 26, 19, 11:45 pm
  #1494  
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Originally Posted by elbejt2 View Post
Maybe I am wrong, but I do not recall terms and conditions attached or referenced in their offer.
The T&C for SDC aren't printed with the offer; I agree. They're printed in the description of the feature on the website. The T&C for the upgrade offer are included when you accept it, though.

Originally Posted by MBS MillionMiler View Post
Can’t say I understand the logic, but it’s United being United.
So, what's actually happening here is that UA uses economy inventory to figure out where to price their domestic first product. If the economy seat is selling for $300, the domestic first might be $450; if the economy price rises to $500, domestic first goes to $650, all else being equal.

The only role that P, Z, D, C, and J buckets serve on most domestic fares is to make sure that they don't sell out the F cabin with low-priced seats merely because economy isn't selling well.

There are many more economy buckets than there are business / first buckets, so multiple economy buckets will map to the same business/first buckets when they're setting up the differential fares (e.g., G, K, L, T, S map to P; W, V, Q map to Z, etc. -- I don't remember the exact mapping off of the top of my head).

So, if you stick with the idea that SDC merely a change fee waiver: in order to have your fare be applicable for the new flight, you'd need availability in both the underlying economy bucket and the business / first bucket.

Originally Posted by MBS MillionMiler View Post
Funnier thing was that I checked in right after I hung up with the agent and got the ‘volunteer your seat’ message. I put in $500. 30 mins later, my phone rang as I was in security and missed the call, it was the gate agent trying to reach me to verify that I wanted to IDB. Turns out they didn’t need the seat, but funny that they’d oversell the seat for the sake of an SDC—even if my fare class wasn’t ‘quite’ eligible, although they’d have done it for someone in Z or higher that wanted to move.
Someone in Z would have had the same problem. There's nothing special about "P." Differential pricing is used for nearly all domestic first class fares. You might have been able to buy a ticket -- at full J, because that's generally published without an economy bucket requirement. UA would have been happy to give somebody a voucher to sell a J ticket. But nobody was really supposed to be able to SDC to the flight.
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Old Sep 27, 19, 12:21 am
  #1495  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
So, if you stick with the idea that SDC merely a change fee waiver: in order to have your fare be applicable for the new flight, you'd need availability in both the underlying economy bucket and the business / first bucket.
That's certainly not accurate.

It's also a fare difference waiver*

Changing from a 30 day advance purchase W fare to a W fare with no advance purchase requirement would normally have some additional collection.

*As long as the fare class is available.

But as far as I know, you can only have one RBD. Fare rules can require whatever they want, but if my RBD is P, then my RBD is P.
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Old Sep 27, 19, 12:40 am
  #1496  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
That's certainly not accurate.

It's also a fare difference waiver*

Changing from a 30 day advance purchase W fare to a W fare with no advance purchase requirement would normally have some additional collection.

*As long as the fare class is available.
Within certain limitations, sure. (Although, in many cases, changing to another flight with the same booking class does not require a re-fare). However, that doesn't mean that you get to ignore all other rules of the fare, the way that some people think should be allowed.

Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
But as far as I know, you can only have one RBD. Fare rules can require whatever they want, but if my RBD is P, then my RBD is P.
Yes, and you only have one nose, also. It's equally relevant.

Except where they are explicitly waived by United -- or where the app makes a mistake, or an agent makes an exception -- you still have to travel by the rules for the original ticket. In fact, the rules incorporate the SDC policy by reference. UA knows that some people are buying $500 P fares at unpopular times of the day and trying to SDC them to the more popular times where the price never drops below $1000, and that's not what they intend SDC to be used for. The SDC policy says nothing about RBD; the closest that it comes is "When the original ticketed fare class is available on the requested flight within 24 hours of departure, the same-day flight change fee (instead of the change fee stated in the fare rules) will apply." Well, if UA considers your original ticketed fare class to be both T and P, which is a perfectly reasonable point of view, then that's the inventory that you need.
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Old Sep 27, 19, 8:30 am
  #1497  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
That's certainly not accurate.

It's also a fare difference waiver*

Changing from a 30 day advance purchase W fare to a W fare with no advance purchase requirement would normally have some additional collection.
Actually, that's not really true. With extremely rare exceptions that SDC is going to sweep under the rug, you can use the original purchase date of your ticket when making small changes, all of which SDC would qualify for. You could have a 30-day W fare and change it two days before departure (same O&D - technical terminology is "no change to fare breaks"), and as long as the new flights can be validated in W and comply with all other rules of the original fare (day of week, time, etc) then you can pay only the change fee ("keep the fare" tag). In many cases you can even up-fare to a higher class using the historical fares in effect at purchase.

For example, using a simple P fare on SFO-ORD (TAA4AFFN):

Code:
          --
              DOWNLINE DATE CHANGE/ FLIGHT CHANGE
              SAME BOOKING CODE / SAME FARE BASIS CODE /
                        KEEP THE FARE
          --
          REPRICE USING CURRENTLY TICKETED/HISTORICAL FARE
          PROVIDED ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET -
          --
          1. NO CHANGE 1ST FLIGHT COUPON / NO CHANGE TO
             FARE BREAKS
          2. ALL TRAVEL REMAINS DOMESTIC
          3. SAME UA FARE USED
          4. ALL RULE AND BOOKING CODE PROVISIONS ARE MET
          INCLUDING RES/TKG
          5. VALIDATE ADVANCE RES/TICKETING FROM ORIGINAL
          TICKET DATE TO DEPARTURE OF PRICING UNIT
          --
          -- REFUND NOT APPLICABLE
             EVEN REISSUE
          -- CHARGE FULL CHANGE FEE
Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
But as far as I know, you can only have one RBD. Fare rules can require whatever they want, but if my RBD is P, then my RBD is P.
One RBD yes, but the validation rules can be more complicated. For that same fare to ORD:

Code:
>$LB11                                                         
011 SFOCHI 27SEP19 UA USD  440.00 TAA4AFFN STAY---/-- BK-P     
FARE CLS  EXPLANATION                            BOOK CODES    
--------  ----------------------                 ----------    
TAA4AFFN  FIRST CLASS SELL-UP OW NON-REF FARES      P          
TAA4AFFN  APPLIES FOR ONE WAY FARES                            
TAA4AFFN  FOR ADULT                                            
                                                               
 BOOKING CODE EXCEPTIONS                                       
   VIA UA  T/P   PERMITTED P   WHEN T AVAILABLE  AND           
           T     PERMITTED                                     
   VIA UA  T/P   PERMITTED P   WHEN T AVAILABLE
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Old Sep 27, 19, 11:31 pm
  #1498  
 
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I'm hoping that someone would know this. If my RPU hasn't clear yet and it's within the 24 hour window, should I do a SDC to another new route/flight, does the RPU gets carried over and continue to be waitlisted or would it drop? If drop, would agent be able to reapply to the new flight or nothing can be done since it's within the 24 hours window? Thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 27, 19, 11:35 pm
  #1499  
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Originally Posted by qplazm1982 View Post
I'm hoping that someone would know this. If my RPU hasn't clear yet and it's within the 24 hour window, should I do a SDC to another new route/flight, does the RPU gets carried over and continue to be waitlisted or would it drop? If drop, would agent be able to reapply to the new flight or nothing can be done since it's within the 24 hours window? Thanks in advance!
It does not carry over. If you do the change by phone, an agent might or might not apply it to the new flight.
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Old Sep 28, 19, 2:04 am
  #1500  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Actually, that's not really true. With extremely rare exceptions that SDC is going to sweep under the rug, you can use the original purchase date of your ticket when making small changes, all of which SDC would qualify for. You could have a 30-day W fare and change it two days before departure (same O&D - technical terminology is "no change to fare breaks"), and as long as the new flights can be validated in W and comply with all other rules of the original fare (day of week, time, etc) then you can pay only the change fee ("keep the fare" tag). In many cases you can even up-fare to a higher class using the historical fares in effect at purchase.

For example, using a simple P fare on SFO-ORD (TAA4AFFN):


Code:
--
DOWNLINE DATE CHANGE/ FLIGHT CHANGE
SAME BOOKING CODE / SAME FARE BASIS CODE /
KEEP THE FARE
--
REPRICE USING CURRENTLY TICKETED/HISTORICAL FARE
PROVIDED ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET -
--
1. NO CHANGE 1ST FLIGHT COUPON / NO CHANGE TO
FARE BREAKS
2. ALL TRAVEL REMAINS DOMESTIC
3. SAME UA FARE USED
4. ALL RULE AND BOOKING CODE PROVISIONS ARE MET
INCLUDING RES/TKG
5. VALIDATE ADVANCE RES/TICKETING FROM ORIGINAL
TICKET DATE TO DEPARTURE OF PRICING UNIT
--
-- REFUND NOT APPLICABLE
EVEN REISSUE
-- CHARGE FULL CHANGE FEE
What does "No change 1st flight coupon" mean? I had thought it specifically referred to the first flight on the ticket, and that this set of conditions would only apply if that flight was left alone. But from what you're saying, it sounds like it just means same O&D?
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