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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 Dec 11, 19, 1:49 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 Oct 11, 19, 10:49 pm
  #1546  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Originally Posted by threeoh View Post
Why rely on the seatmaps? Why not just look at how many Y tickets United is willing to sell? If it's Y0 or Y1 then you're rolling the dice. If it's Y9 at 24 hours out then yes you can probably standby no problem (unless something else gets cancelled and a bunch of people get rebooked).

If your backup plan is a 5-hour connection with a confirmed seat, I don't see it as a huge risk. If you don't mind E- middle seat, and you're nervous about ORD, I'd go for it.

Note that UA hasn't issued a waiver for ORD so they're not too nervous.
I hear your point, but not many people are set up with expert mode. For me I do both.. OP traveled today I believe hopefully they’ll come back and report, as we know some don’t
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Old Oct 13, 19, 9:02 pm
  #1547  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: NYC
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Recently I was booked LAX-SAT-EWR departing at 11:55pm. I arrived to LAX in time to make the 11:15pm LAX-EWR. Because it was full, I couldn't SDC before arriving to the airport / going standby. At 10:48pm the check-in counter told me they couldn't put me on standby because the flight was under gate control, but that the GA could do it. I arrived to the gate at 10:54pm and asked to be added to the standby list. Despite having not cleared any standbys yet, the GA told me that she couldn't add me to the list inside of T-30 minutes. That felt bogus to me, but I didn't have a good argument / enough experience to fight it. 7 standbys ended up clearing and I'm confident I would have been on the flight if she put me on the list. Is that policy? If not policy, how would you approach having yourself added to the list given GA denial?

Appreciate any thoughts.
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Old Oct 13, 19, 10:13 pm
  #1548  
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Originally Posted by EWRSNA View Post
Recently I was booked LAX-SAT-EWR departing at 11:55pm. I arrived to LAX in time to make the 11:15pm LAX-EWR. Because it was full, I couldn't SDC before arriving to the airport / going standby. At 10:48pm the check-in counter told me they couldn't put me on standby because the flight was under gate control, but that the GA could do it. I arrived to the gate at 10:54pm and asked to be added to the standby list. Despite having not cleared any standbys yet, the GA told me that she couldn't add me to the list inside of T-30 minutes. That felt bogus to me, but I didn't have a good argument / enough experience to fight it. 7 standbys ended up clearing and I'm confident I would have been on the flight if she put me on the list. Is that policy? If not policy, how would you approach having yourself added to the list given GA denial?

Appreciate any thoughts.
Trying to standby for a flight after the check-in deadline is a YMMV situation. If there’s a policy, it’s against it; I’m just not sure whether or not they’ve actually codified it. It can be done, but you’re asking for a favor, and not all gate agents are inclined to grant favors.

If you were at the check-in counter at 10:48 PM, you did not “arrive... in time to make the 11:15pm” flight.

How did you end up on LAX-SAT-EWR? Was this an award ticket? If not, you had a broken fare — meaning, you had an LAX+SAT fare plus a SAT+EWR fare. That ticket cannot be applied to an LAX-EWR nonstop flight, so there’s a good chance that the agent would have had to get the help desk engaged to try to get you re-ticketed.
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Old Oct 14, 19, 10:10 pm
  #1549  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: NYC
Programs: UA Platinum
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Trying to standby for a flight after the check-in deadline is a YMMV situation. If there’s a policy, it’s against it; I’m just not sure whether or not they’ve actually codified it. It can be done, but you’re asking for a favor, and not all gate agents are inclined to grant favors.

If you were at the check-in counter at 10:48 PM, you did not “arrive... in time to make the 11:15pm” flight.

How did you end up on LAX-SAT-EWR? Was this an award ticket? If not, you had a broken fare — meaning, you had an LAX+SAT fare plus a SAT+EWR fare. That ticket cannot be applied to an LAX-EWR nonstop flight, so there’s a good chance that the agent would have had to get the help desk engaged to try to get you re-ticketed.
Thanks for the response. I suppose I meant that I arrived in time to physically make it on the plane before the door closed. Anyways, this situation came about because I needed to fly later than the nonstop LAX-EWR I had originally booked and LAX-SAT-EWR was the only SDC option with availability in my fare class. It was a revenue ticket. For what it's worth, flying a redeye with a connection in SAT was not nearly as annoying as I had expected.

Is it also asking a favor to be put on the flight inside of T-30 when there is availability? I do that fairly regularly (e.g., was recently on a 4pm EWR-LAX and arrived at the gate for the 3:05pm EWR-LAX at 2:48pm and was handed a BP right before the door closed). In that case, I showed up on the standby list, but there wasn't anyone behind me waiting to clear.
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Old Oct 14, 19, 10:25 pm
  #1550  
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Originally Posted by EWRSNA View Post
Thanks for the response. I suppose I meant that I arrived in time to physically make it on the plane before the door closed. Anyways, this situation came about because I needed to fly later than the nonstop LAX-EWR I had originally booked and LAX-SAT-EWR was the only SDC option with availability in my fare class. It was a revenue ticket. For what it's worth, flying a redeye with a connection in SAT was not nearly as annoying as I had expected.
Ah, OK. That makes more sense. In that case — if they’d taken the time to look at it — your coupon would obviously have been OK for travel on the nonstop.

Originally Posted by EWRSNA View Post
Is it also asking a favor to be put on the flight inside of T-30 when there is availability? I do that fairly regularly (e.g., was recently on a 4pm EWR-LAX and arrived at the gate for the 3:05pm EWR-LAX at 2:48pm and was handed a BP right before the door closed). In that case, I showed up on the standby list, but there wasn't anyone behind me waiting to clear.
Yes, but when the list is empty, it’s a smaller favor.
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Old Oct 15, 19, 5:54 pm
  #1551  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 124
Anyone else having issues SDCing a flight with the app today (from check in / flight options)? There are several flights available in my booking class today and tomorrow, and the button doesn't even show.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:26 am
  #1552  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Toronto, Canada
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Posts: 68
I have a roundtrip United ticket (016) in Z class in all segments, with the outbound being:
YYZ-EWR UA3716 (operated by United)
EWR-VIE UA9841 (operated by Austrian)
VIE-MUC UA9499 (operated by Lufthansa)

I'm wondering if there are any potential issues with doing a SDC to an earlier flight on only the YYZ-EWR United-operated portion? I've done SDC several times before, but only on simple itineraries with only United-operated segments, so not sure if having subsequent partner-operated flights would present a challenge.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Oct 16, 19, 2:32 pm
  #1553  
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Originally Posted by teryyz View Post
I have a roundtrip United ticket (016) in Z class in all segments, with the outbound being:
YYZ-EWR UA3716 (operated by United)
EWR-VIE UA9841 (operated by Austrian)
VIE-MUC UA9499 (operated by Lufthansa)

I'm wondering if there are any potential issues with doing a SDC to an earlier flight on only the YYZ-EWR United-operated portion? ...
SDC is not possible with that itin as there are partner flights included. You can go standby at the gate for the earlier UA flight but not SDC.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:13 pm
  #1554  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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I had a flight originally booked in X from MAD-MUC-SFO. Due to schedule changes, it was rebooked in YN MAD-EWR-SFO on UA metal, without taking additional miles - so I only paid 30k. The flight is after dynamic pricing kicks in.

1. Would I be able to SDC Ewr-Sfo into any flight with economy seats available as my current class is YN?
2. Could I check a bag in MAD and sdc via the app for ewr-sfo, since I could pick up the bag at ewr and not do the bag drop..?
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Old Oct 17, 19, 7:53 am
  #1555  
 
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Originally Posted by GoSh4rks View Post
I had a flight originally booked in X from MAD-MUC-SFO. Due to schedule changes, it was rebooked in YN MAD-EWR-SFO on UA metal, without taking additional miles - so I only paid 30k. The flight is after dynamic pricing kicks in.

1. Would I be able to SDC Ewr-Sfo into any flight with economy seats available as my current class is YN?
2. Could I check a bag in MAD and sdc via the app for ewr-sfo, since I could pick up the bag at ewr and not do the bag drop..?
1. SDC will still apply but the underlying fare code may still appear as "X".
2. No, you cannot SDC with a checked bag. The fact that you have to pick it up in EWR is irrelevant and the app will not offer SDC options. However, you are welcome to call the elite line and/or check with the UA customer service desk right after baggage pick up (and before baggage drop off) who can look for SDC options for you. Once you SDC you can have a new bag tag printed and new BP issued.

-RM
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Old Oct 17, 19, 8:58 am
  #1556  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
SDC is not possible with that itin as there are partner flights included. You can go standby at the gate for the earlier UA flight but not SDC.
Darn... I hadn't realized that was the case.

For future reference, would that also apply to the return segments? E.g. despite having partner flights on the outbound, if the return portion was entirely on United metal, would I be able to make a SDC on the return?
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Old Oct 17, 19, 11:45 am
  #1557  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
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Originally Posted by teryyz View Post
Darn... I hadn't realized that was the case.

For future reference, would that also apply to the return segments? E.g. despite having partner flights on the outbound, if the return portion was entirely on United metal, would I be able to make a SDC on the return?
That shouldn't be an issue
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Old Oct 17, 19, 12:04 pm
  #1558  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
SDC is not possible with that itin as there are partner flights included. You can go standby at the gate for the earlier UA flight but not SDC.
As a data point, I recently (end of Sept) flew IAD-NRT-BKK and was given SDC options that kept the NRT-BKK NH segment (booked as UA codeshare) intact but offered different ways to get to Narita. I didn't use them, but I always check what's offered because I'm curious. Separately, I flew IAD-HNL-KOA and return over the past week and going both ways was given SDC options to all UA itineraries to or from KOA, but nothing that included my HA segments (booked as UA codeshare).
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Old Oct 17, 19, 5:44 pm
  #1559  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Heads-up: looks like the app is clearing SDCs (for upgraded segments) into PZ again. Today I wasn't able to move to an earlier flight that was wide open in Y but had PZ0... until later, when somebody cancelled, PZ opened, and I was able to clear onto it after all. (To be fair, I probably would have gotten upgraded anyway).
FWIW I'm flying SFO-LAS this evening, cleared CPU at the 1K window. At some point last night or early this morning, expert mode showed an earlier flight with PZ1 but the app did *not* offer SDC to it. I've been checking periodically throughout the day and the only options it gives appear to be in my original fare class.
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Old Oct 18, 19, 12:12 pm
  #1560  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Originally Posted by coolbeans202 View Post
As a data point, I recently (end of Sept) flew IAD-NRT-BKK and was given SDC options that kept the NRT-BKK NH segment (booked as UA codeshare) intact but offered different ways to get to Narita. I didn't use them, but I always check what's offered because I'm curious. Separately, I flew IAD-HNL-KOA and return over the past week and going both ways was given SDC options to all UA itineraries to or from KOA, but nothing that included my HA segments (booked as UA codeshare).
Have you ever followed through with a SDC similar to the options you were given for your IAD-NRT-BKK routing, changing the UA portions while keeping the partner segment intact? This is what I want to do on my upcoming trip and will check 24-hours in advance to see if there are any options, but want to be aware of any potential consequences.
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