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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 Nov 14, 19, 7:01 pm
  #1606  
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Originally Posted by hokiebuy View Post
This is very disappointing as it is a paid upgrade. SDC is not what it used to be!
It is also in the T&C of the upgrade purchase: it applies to that particular flight segment and is forfeit if you make a voluntary change.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 7:02 pm
  #1607  
 
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Originally Posted by Zorak View Post
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.
yup, even if it was a paid upgrade so your fare class is P or Z as an example, SDC only shows you original fare class.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 7:06 pm
  #1608  
 
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Originally Posted by hokiebuy View Post
yup, even if it was a paid upgrade so your fare class is P or Z as an example, SDC only shows you original fare class.
For further reference on my future travels, if I do a paid upgrade beforehand and upgraded to P or Z; if I SDC, would I lose my upgrade and get a refund or I would be shown the options where both my originally booked class and my upgraded class are available?
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Old Nov 14, 19, 8:23 pm
  #1609  
 
Join Date: May 2012
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Originally Posted by CatchFlightsNotFeelings View Post
Do we have any new clarity about the ability to SDC via the app/online:

(1) pushing a flight off to the next calendar day (e.g., a LAX-IAD flight at 11pm on day 1, SDCing it via app to LAX-IAD at 5pm on day 2 [assuming this occurred within the 24hour window, i.e., at 7pm on day 1]).

(2) changing routing at a connection point? (e.g., if i book SFO-LAX-IAH, can i change [upon arrival at LAX] to LAX-DEN-IAH [assuming fare class availability and also LAX-IAH routing rules])?
#1 should be easy as long as there is space
#2 not available in the app/online but you maybe able to get a phone agent to change it for free. YMMV I tried to change my EWR HKG to EWR SFO HKG and they waived the change fee but not the fare difference, this is a different case though. If its an overnight connection then it should be slightly easier.

In the last month I've been told by 2 agents to SDC before I fly the first leg. After flying the first leg, even real 1K phone agents have to get a supervisor to do certain changes.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 8:29 pm
  #1610  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
For further reference on my future travels, if I do a paid upgrade beforehand and upgraded to P or Z; if I SDC, would I lose my upgrade and get a refund or I would be shown the options where both my originally booked class and my upgraded class are available?
1K desk told me upgrade was non-refundable but they'd make a "1 time exception". Then, I asked them if they'd make 1 time exception and actually SDC me to business seat as P fare class was available and rep granted me that favor. But he did say it was 1 time favor extended to me as 1k. I think something is wrong about this!! If it's paid upgrade, it should not revert back to original fare class especially if it's in P or Z as opposed to PN or ZN. SDC is ruined!.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 9:04 pm
  #1611  
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Originally Posted by hokiebuy View Post
I think something is wrong about this!! If it's paid upgrade, it should not revert back to original fare class especially if it's in P or Z as opposed to PN or ZN. SDC is ruined!.
If you up-fare, you won't have this problem. If you use a sticker-type upgrade to buy up one segment -- generally at a discount, although sometimes just a slight one -- it is non-refundable and non-transferrable. The fact that they seated you in P or Z is an artifact of the process; it doesn't mean that you have a P or Z fare.

UA is well aware that people were doing things like upgrading IAD-LAX and then SDCing into IAD-EWR-LAX, and they're trying to put a stop to it.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 9:24 pm
  #1612  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
If you up-fare, you won't have this problem. If you use a sticker-type upgrade to buy up one segment -- generally at a discount, although sometimes just a slight one -- it is non-refundable and non-transferrable. The fact that they seated you in P or Z is an artifact of the process; it doesn't mean that you have a P or Z fare.

UA is well aware that people were doing things like upgrading IAD-LAX and then SDCing into IAD-EWR-LAX, and they're trying to put a stop to it.
For OPs sake and those wondering in this thread, all domestic first tickets aren't "P" or "Z" fares. They're all fared on an underlying coach fare class. United doesn't even publish P or Z fares in most markets (I can't say all because I'm not going to look up every possible domestic routing pair to see the published fare info). They have up to Y and then "J" (and I see "F" still in the fare info). So, of course you're correct that the upgrade is not transferable or refundable and only applies to the segments the upgrades were purchased for.

I still believe it's easy to prevent IAD-LAX routing through EWR via SDC if they just follow the routing rules. The routing rules can be adjusted to allow what they want. SDC has been known to start following those and clamping down now. (PS - I looked up IAD-LAX for tomrw and the lowest fare class "Q" allows routing via all hubs including EWR).

-RM
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Old Nov 15, 19, 12:28 am
  #1613  
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
For OPs sake and those wondering in this thread, all domestic first tickets aren't "P" or "Z" fares. They're all fared on an underlying coach fare class. United doesn't even publish P or Z fares in most markets (I can't say all because I'm not going to look up every possible domestic routing pair to see the published fare info).
They absolutely do publish P and Z fares. However, the fare basis doesn't start with P or Z. Let's stick with IAD-SFO as an example. For travel from December 9-13, I see the fare LAA2TQFN. This is a P fare. In this case, it is published as a first class fare, valid for nonstop travel only, and with a special rule disallowing travel between the p.s. city pairs. This is a fare-by-rule based upon a corresponding L fare (probably LAA2TQDN). It requires inventory in both the L and the P inventory buckets, but it credits like a P fare, you can SDC like a P fare, the entire amount paid is included if you make a change, etc. For all intents and purposes, it acts just like an international P fare (those do start with P).

Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
So, of course you're correct that the upgrade is not transferable or refundable and only applies to the segments the upgrades were purchased for.
That's different, though. If you call and re-fare the ticket, you can use any fare that's currently available for purchase and pay the fare difference, and then you will have a P (or Z, etc.) ticket just as if you had bought it that way in the first place. But if you pay for an upgrade, either at purchase, from your reservation screen on the web or in the app, or during check-in, you're not changing the fare. You're buying a one-segment, non-transferrable upgrade.

Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
I still believe it's easy to prevent IAD-LAX routing through EWR via SDC if they just follow the routing rules. The routing rules can be adjusted to allow what they want. SDC has been known to start following those and clamping down now. (PS - I looked up IAD-LAX for tomrw and the lowest fare class "Q" allows routing via all hubs including EWR).
They're not worried about people SDC'ing Y fares. They don't want people SDC'ing J fares, and they especially don't want people buying a discounted upgrade on IAD-LAX and turning it into prime lie-flat p.s. space on IAD-EWR-LAX. That's why they have that boilerplate text in the WAS-LAX fare that disallows flying on the p.s. routes. That text is only in the first class fares.

Last edited by jsloan; Nov 15, 19 at 9:02 am
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Old Nov 15, 19, 1:55 am
  #1614  
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
UA is well aware that people were doing things like upgrading IAD-LAX and then SDCing into IAD-EWR-LAX, and they're trying to put a stop to it.

I was among those people :-)

Those were good times. Sometimes with CPU, RPU or last minute buy-up you got to SDC and fly premium transcontinental routes for free or few hundred bucks!!
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Old Nov 15, 19, 5:18 am
  #1615  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by CatchFlightsNotFeelings View Post
Do we have any new clarity about the ability to SDC via the app/online:

(1) pushing a flight off to the next calendar day (e.g., a LAX-IAD flight at 11pm on day 1, SDCing it via app to LAX-IAD at 5pm on day 2 [assuming this occurred within the 24hour window, i.e., at 7pm on day 1]).

(2) changing routing at a connection point? (e.g., if i book SFO-LAX-IAH, can i change [upon arrival at LAX] to LAX-DEN-IAH [assuming fare class availability and also LAX-IAH routing rules])?
(2)
A few weeks ago I was offered (in the app) a SDC at a connection point.
My original itinerary was DXB-FRA-DEN-YYC and when I arrived in FRA the app gave me an earlier flight option FRA-ORD-YYC.

Not sure if my situation applies (international and one *A operated flight) but I thought I should report.
Note: DXB-FRA was operated by LH and others by UA.
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Old Nov 15, 19, 7:54 am
  #1616  
 
Join Date: May 2012
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SDC at connecting point

Originally Posted by thejaredhuang View Post

In the last month I've been told by 2 agents to SDC before I fly the first leg. After flying the first leg, even real 1K phone agents have to get a supervisor to do certain changes.
Originally Posted by leoo View Post
(2)
A few weeks ago I was offered (in the app) a SDC at a connection point.
My original itinerary was DXB-FRA-DEN-YYC and when I arrived in FRA the app gave me an earlier flight option FRA-ORD-YYC.

Not sure if my situation applies (international and one *A operated flight) but I thought I should report.
Note: DXB-FRA was operated by LH and others by UA.
We need more data points on SDC at connecting point and success of second SDC after changing the connecting point during the first SDC. I suspect that thejaredhuang is probably right on the denial of SDC at connecting point on either App or calling agent. UA has tighted a lot of rules such as removing GPU/RPU from reservation.
I think that leoo's situation was different. As far as UA is concerned, FRA is the orignating city, not a connecting point, for SDC.
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Old Nov 15, 19, 8:27 am
  #1617  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Originally due to fly out of MCO tomorrow at 1230 -EWR-LHR on a P Fare. I was looking at possible option to leave today, believing that I would have to wait until 1230 to get an SDC 0 fee option. When I checked at 0530 this morning, changes were £250. Looking again at 0900 to monitor if seats were still available for the 1730 flight tonight, I was surprised that it alllowed the SDC.

I though both old and new flight had to be within the 24 hour window (according to the wiki). My original flight was 27 hours out still. (It booked without any problem).
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Old Nov 15, 19, 8:56 am
  #1618  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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My original itinerary had a 12:45 a.m. (this morning) departure from PHX to EWR with a connection to BOS booked in K. I wanted to re-route through LAX on the 11 p.m. redeye to BOS. This routing was not one of the options offered through either the app or the website at online check-in, so I ‘lied’ at the prompt that asked if I wanted to change the origin or destination and was able to search, and select, the PHX-LAX-BOS routing for $0. The odd thing is the changed itinerary booked into ‘Q’ even though the site showed K9 on both segments.

At any rate, I’m on the MBTA commuter rail train to Providence while my original EWR-BOS flight is still in the air. Very light loads on the LAX-BOS redeye 757.
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Old Nov 15, 19, 9:02 am
  #1619  
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Originally Posted by Richym99 View Post
I though both old and new flight had to be within the 24 hour window (according to the wiki). My original flight was 27 hours out still. (It booked without any problem).
Yes, both flights must be within 24 hours. Apparently you benefited from a glitch.

Originally Posted by kale73 View Post
The odd thing is the changed itinerary booked into ‘Q’ even though the site showed K9 on both segments.
Hmm. It wouldn't surprise me if Q were the cheapest walkup fare available on that route, but if it was able to figure out that you didn't owe a fare difference, it should have been able to figure out that you were supposed to stay in K. Good tip for the future though.
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Old Nov 15, 19, 9:20 am
  #1620  
 
Join Date: May 2012
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Originally Posted by kale73 View Post
My original itinerary had a 12:45 a.m. (this morning) departure from PHX to EWR with a connection to BOS booked in K. I wanted to re-route through LAX on the 11 p.m. redeye to BOS. This routing was not one of the options offered through either the app or the website at online check-in, so I ‘lied’ at the prompt that asked if I wanted to change the origin or destination and was able to search, and select, the PHX-LAX-BOS routing for $0. The odd thing is the changed itinerary booked into ‘Q’ even though the site showed K9 on both segments.

At any rate, I’m on the MBTA commuter rail train to Providence while my original EWR-BOS flight is still in the air. Very light loads on the LAX-BOS redeye 757.
It is a glitch that UA has not been able to fix. My friend was able to change from ORF-IAD-PEK (G class) to ORF-EWR-ORD-PEK (Q class) about two weeks ago. He applied a GPU to upgrade to Polaris cabin successfully. I tried to do it with the similar routing a week ago. The "change flight" option on web died after I selected the two-stop option. So, I was unsuccessful. The point is that there is still a glitch for your flight change.
Happy travel.
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