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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 Jan 31, 19, 8:18 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:
  • 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.
  • 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: N
  • Change at layover airport when a bag has been checked: N
  • 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
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 27, 18, 9:04 am
  #331  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,882
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
It makes zero difference whether the ticket number changed or not because the fare paid is still the same.
There have been multiple reports of people circumventing the 75K cap (which, incidentally, is the silliest part of the entire fare-based earning structure) by making changes to their itinerary that require a ticket re-issue, provided the re-issue occurs after the first set of earnings have already posted. It's not a 75K cap per PNR, but rather a 75K cap per ticket.
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Old Nov 28, 18, 12:18 am
  #332  
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
There have been multiple reports of people circumventing the 75K cap (which, incidentally, is the silliest part of the entire fare-based earning structure) by making changes to their itinerary that require a ticket re-issue, provided the re-issue occurs after the first set of earnings have already posted. It's not a 75K cap per PNR, but rather a 75K cap per ticket.

Yep, this is exactly why I asked. Previously, I had accidentally circumvented the cap when I changed the return for a new date / new flights (same AAA-CCC) after the outbound had occurred, but that required paying a change fee and switching dates. However, the change fee / new date scenario more clearly requires a ticket reissue than simply a SDC via the app or similar. I'll see what happens later this week and update then!

Last edited by cshaw; Nov 28, 18 at 12:26 am
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Old Nov 29, 18, 2:08 pm
  #333  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: MRY
Programs: UA 1K, HH Diamond, National EE
Posts: 19
SDC and variable priced YN awards?

Have not seen this answered upthread (apologies if I missed it), but how are YN tickets treated for SDC now that the mileage pricing is variable?

Example: I book a YN domestic one way at 15k, and at the SDC window others are still 32.5k. Would SDC on the app allow the switch without any additional miles since YN>0 inventory, or would it collect a mileage difference? If procedure is unknown, I'll report my experience after.

Last edited by Scuba2P; Nov 29, 18 at 5:04 pm
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:18 pm
  #334  
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 10
SDC potential? Is it always available?

I am considering booking a flight on a date about a week earlier than I actually can fly because it's roughly $1600 cheaper for my SO and I.

SDC Ninjas: I realize that it's risky, but do you think 7 SDC's in a row is possible? There are multiple routes and times to my destination. How big of a risk am I taking with this?
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:21 pm
  #335  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
SDC potential? Is it always available?

I am considering booking a flight on a date about a week earlier than I actually can fly because it's roughly $1600 cheaper for my SO and I.

SDC Ninjas: I realize that it's risky, but do you think 7 SDC's in a row is possible? There are multiple routes and times to my destination. How big of a risk am I taking with this?
It's $1600 cheaper due to a difference in airfare, or it's $1600 cheaper due to some unrelated expense?

If it's airfare, I have to imagine it's unlikely that your (inexpensive) fare class is going to open up on a flight that seems much more heavily loaded.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:25 pm
  #336  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
It's $1600 cheaper due to a difference in airfare, or it's $1600 cheaper due to some unrelated expense?

If it's airfare, I have to imagine it's unlikely that your (inexpensive) fare class is going to open up on a flight that seems much more heavily loaded.
Difference in airfare. L fare so that makes sense.

Very tempting because of the cost savings, but even with the T-3 fare class zeroing out explained in the wiki this may be a bit to risky.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:27 pm
  #337  
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
SDC potential? Is it always available?

I am considering booking a flight on a date about a week earlier than I actually can fly because it's roughly $1600 cheaper for my SO and I.

SDC Ninjas: I realize that it's risky, but do you think 7 SDC's in a row is possible? There are multiple routes and times to my destination. How big of a risk am I taking with this?
A week for 2 people seems highly unlikely. If you have flex that you could potentially fly 2-4 days later than do it, else big risk
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:33 pm
  #338  
 
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
Difference in airfare. L fare so that makes sense.

Very tempting because of the cost savings, but even with the T-3 fare class zeroing out explained in the wiki this may be a bit to risky.
Is your target flight a nonstop? You can basically ignore the fare class leveling at/around T-3 for connecting flights; it doesn't happen.

What's the inventory on the target flight?

How is your SO going to feel if you can't take the flight you want? If you're both in separate middle seats in the back?
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:35 pm
  #339  
 
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
Difference in airfare. L fare so that makes sense.

Very tempting because of the cost savings, but even with the T-3 fare class zeroing out explained in the wiki this may be a bit to risky.
I'll admit I have moved a two-person hub-hub domestic K fare four days, but it was an intense annoyance. Can you afford to fly early if you get stuck? If so, with a reward of $1600, I might be tempted to try.

(I assume this is not international—if it is, that will be very difficult.)
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:46 pm
  #340  
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Originally Posted by anandrag View Post


A week for 2 people seems highly unlikely. If you have flex that you could potentially fly 2-4 days later than do it, else big risk
Is it possible to split the SDC at a certain point? i.e. split the reservation and keep SDC'n one of them? I have flexibility, but my SO doesn't. I have status and she does not so even if we can split - i'm guessing she loses ability to SDC?

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Is your target flight a nonstop? You can basically ignore the fare class leveling at/around T-3 for connecting flights; it doesn't happen.

What's the inventory on the target flight?

How is your SO going to feel if you can't take the flight you want? If you're both in separate middle seats in the back?


This is what it is right now.
I can book direct or with a connection. This is the direct load.

Middle seats would be unpleasant. May not be worth it strictly for that.

Originally Posted by fumje View Post
I'll admit I have moved a two-person hub-hub domestic K fare four days, but it was an intense annoyance. Can you afford to fly early if you get stuck? If so, with a reward of $1600, I might be tempted to try.

(I assume this is not international—if it is, that will be very difficult.)
It is international. I could fly early, but not my SO.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 3:56 pm
  #341  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
Is it possible to split the SDC at a certain point? i.e. split the reservation and keep SDC'n one of them? I have flexibility, but my SO doesn't. I have status and she does not so even if we can split - i'm guessing she loses ability to SDC?





This is what it is right now.
I can book direct or with a connection. This is the direct load.

Middle seats would be unpleasant. May not be worth it strictly for that.



It is international. I could fly early, but not my SO.
If you split and your SO does not have status, your SO loses ability to switch without fee.

Given that it is international, and the downside of being locked out is costly, I would not attempt to roll the SDC.

If you have not been watching inventories over the past week — and if the fare does not expire imminently — I would watch inventories for a week before booking. Otherwise, I can't see any great options other than booking the more expensive dates you need.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 4:02 pm
  #342  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by 001 View Post
Is it possible to split the SDC at a certain point? i.e. split the reservation and keep SDC'n one of them? I have flexibility, but my SO doesn't. I have status and she does not so even if we can split - i'm guessing she loses ability to SDC?
Yes, and probably.

Originally Posted by 001 View Post
This is what it is right now.
I can book direct or with a connection. This is the direct load.
That's actually much lighter than I expected. There must not be any fares filed between L (or T) and Q or something. It's possible that this is a momentary thing, and they might actually open space after all.

I'm still not sure I'd try SDCing 2x daily for a week, but it's not as ludicrous as I first thought. Keep in mind, you can always SDC, as long as there are seats available on the plane. However, if there aren't any seats in L, you'd need to pay the fare difference. The risk you'd be taking is that the inventory goes to something like Y4 B1 and then you're stuck paying two Y fares. (Or, it goes to Y0 B0 and you're not flying...)

Originally Posted by 001 View Post
Middle seats would be unpleasant. May not be worth it strictly for that.
That's always a concern with SDC, especially if you're anticipating having to wait for the fare class leveling. You're counting on somebody else moving out of some nice seats due to their own SDC or upgrade. If that doesn't happen, middle seats are a real possibility -- especially when you're traveling as a couple. (You might be able to find one aisle or window, but two adjacent seats could be difficult).

It is international. I could fly early, but not my SO.[/QUOTE]
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Old Dec 1, 18, 9:22 am
  #343  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Israel, APAC
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Can i SDC a flight from LAX-TLV, where the second leg is LH metal? i.e. switch to a flight with all UA metal...
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Old Dec 1, 18, 9:39 am
  #344  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
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Originally Posted by thedon View Post
Can i SDC a flight from LAX-TLV, where the second leg is LH metal? i.e. switch to a flight with all UA metal...
It is technically against the rules, but some agents will allow it if you call.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 10:38 pm
  #345  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Programs: DL PM, SPG Plat
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Is United the only carrier that allows global SDCs? I think AA is limited to NA plus LHR; Delta is domestic.
I might shift a bunch more business to United since international SDCs can be really helpful
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