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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 10, 19, 3:29 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
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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 Apr 27, 19, 4:32 pm
  #946  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Floating around
Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Silver (1MM), Marriott LT Titanium
Posts: 8,221
Originally Posted by fumje View Post
I will be a little bit surprised if any 'official' update is issued, as these changes are essentially just tightening application of the official policy.

And—I absolutely hate these changes. There have been periods of limited SDC availability in the past, but I agree this feels like a for-the-foreseeable-future change.
We'll disagree on this. This is not a tightening of official policy. Official policy absolutely allows changes to the day before or day after the originally scheduled flight. It's even on the SDC page here (https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...ay-change.html) and in the FAQ. In addition, there are no rules about adding/removing stops as the only policy rule is that you must start and end in your ticketed origin/destination. The in-between is not relevant. This, too, is allowed through the FAQ.

There are NO rules about:
- Changing/adding/removing connection points (although one can argue the fare rules should apply at which point fare rules may apply - but they haven't in the past). So this would be a policy change.
- How many times you can SDC your ticket. Plenty of people posting about multi-day SDC up to a week or more. While this is not the intent of the program, it's not disallowed by any rule. So this would be a policy change.
- You ARE allowed to move your flight to the day before or day after (within 24 hours of your original flight). The app no longer allows this. So this would be a policy change.

I do agree with you that we may never see an 'official release' of new rules. But there would definitely be a memo sent to call center agents if they were to be changing the rules.

-RM
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Old Apr 27, 19, 4:50 pm
  #947  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 4,807
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
We'll disagree on this. This is not a tightening of official policy. Official policy absolutely allows changes to the day before or day after the originally scheduled flight. It's even on the SDC page here (https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...ay-change.html) and in the FAQ. In addition, there are no rules about adding/removing stops as the only policy rule is that you must start and end in your ticketed origin/destination. The in-between is not relevant. This, too, is allowed through the FAQ.

There are NO rules about:
- Changing/adding/removing connection points (although one can argue the fare rules should apply at which point fare rules may apply - but they haven't in the past). So this would be a policy change.
- How many times you can SDC your ticket. Plenty of people posting about multi-day SDC up to a week or more. While this is not the intent of the program, it's not disallowed by any rule. So this would be a policy change.
- You ARE allowed to move your flight to the day before or day after (within 24 hours of your original flight). The app no longer allows this. So this would be a policy change.

I do agree with you that we may never see an 'official release' of new rules. But there would definitely be a memo sent to call center agents if they were to be changing the rules.

-RM
You're right that the app is applying tighter rules than the official policy, but there's also always been a discrepancy between what the app allows and what the official policy allows, particularly w.r.t. the routing rules. I suspect this change is the app programmers trying to bring the 'take an earlier flight' logic more in line with the policy and ultimately phoning it in (apologies for the pun) when the internal mechanics get tricky.

I do share your nervousness, as I have found the SDC policy very valuable, but I don't think there is a coordinated effort behind the recent changes.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 7:25 pm
  #948  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYC
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 494
So I have a brief update. Last night the SYD-SFO flight went PZ1 so I was able to get my fiancé on that one for a much earlier arrival into YYC. unfortunately I’m stuck on my original routing which is not great, and am currently sitting on UA100 (in Polaris, so good result overall).

I am also seeing the new rules in action, and they suck. There should be several SDC options to get me home to YYC a bit earlier with some W availability, but the app is not allowing me to change to any flight. Perhaps this is because I am confirmed in PZ on the IAH-ORD leg, but either way it’s a bit frustrating. The irony is that my IAH-ORD flight appears to be overbooked, so I may be able to swap to one of the flights I would have taken for free with VDB compensation. Fingers crossed.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 9:38 pm
  #949  
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 44
Originally Posted by david_oz View Post
So I have a brief update. Last night the SYD-SFO flight went PZ1 so I was able to get my fiancé on that one for a much earlier arrival into YYC. unfortunately I’m stuck on my original routing which is not great, and am currently sitting on UA100 (in Polaris, so good result overall).

I am also seeing the new rules in action, and they suck. There should be several SDC options to get me home to YYC a bit earlier with some W availability, but the app is not allowing me to change to any flight. Perhaps this is because I am confirmed in PZ on the IAH-ORD leg, but either way it’s a bit frustrating. The irony is that my IAH-ORD flight appears to be overbooked, so I may be able to swap to one of the flights I would have taken for free with VDB compensation. Fingers crossed.
So you have 1 segment in PZ and 1 in W? The app never allowed SDC when 2 segments are in different fare classes.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 9:55 pm
  #950  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYC
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 494
Originally Posted by usflyer16 View Post
So you have 1 segment in PZ and 1 in W? The app never allowed SDC when 2 segments are in different fare classes.
both upcoming segments are in PZ. I seem to recall in the past seeing SDC options in W even when confirmed in PZ (ie. you could make the change, but you would lose the upgrade)
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Old Apr 28, 19, 12:55 am
  #951  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10,774
Originally Posted by david_oz View Post
both upcoming segments are in PZ. I seem to recall in the past seeing SDC options in W even when confirmed in PZ (ie. you could make the change, but you would lose the upgrade)
It's been broken since PZ was introduced.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 7:27 am
  #952  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Floating around
Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Silver (1MM), Marriott LT Titanium
Posts: 8,221
Originally Posted by david_oz View Post
I am also seeing the new rules in action, and they suck. There should be several SDC options to get me home to YYC a bit earlier with some W availability, but the app is not allowing me to change to any flight. Perhaps this is because I am confirmed in PZ on the IAH-ORD leg, but either way it’s a bit frustrating. The irony is that my IAH-ORD flight appears to be overbooked, so I may be able to swap to one of the flights I would have taken for free with VDB compensation. Fingers crossed.
This is now the new behavior. You can no longer SDC the IAH-YYZ segment to anything other than another non-stop IAH-YYZ segment on the *same day* via the app. You can still call United and have them make the change for you and they'll do it. The difference is that when you do it through the app you can only SDC to your booked fare class (PZ in this case) while if you do it via the phone they will put you back in your original economy class (W in this case). It's a trade off.

Maybe you got bumped on IAH-ORD but most likely not. UA has been giving the "we're oversold" message on the mobile app much more frequently than in the past and almost always they don't take volunteers. Plus hub-to-hub flights have a high number of misconnects and last minute SDC off the flights to non-stops.

-RM
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Old May 1, 19, 5:32 pm
  #953  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Programs: UA 1K MM, Marriott LT Platinum
Posts: 346
I'm traveling today. I have a P class ticket but the earlier flights only have coach available, I have a few questions:
  1. Can I SDC to coach on the earlier flight?
  2. Can I standby for coach on the earlier flight?
  3. If I take the earlier flight in coach, will I still get 150% PQMs (based on the fare I purchased)?
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Old May 1, 19, 8:37 pm
  #954  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Programs: United GS; AA EXP; Marriott Ambassador
Posts: 168
Originally Posted by Howard View Post
I'm traveling today. I have a P class ticket but the earlier flights only have coach available, I have a few questions:
  1. Can I SDC to coach on the earlier flight?
  2. Can I standby for coach on the earlier flight?
  3. If I take the earlier flight in coach, will I still get 150% PQMs (based on the fare I purchased)?
1. Yes but you need to call
2. Yes but only doable when you're at the airport
3. I don't think so because it's a voluntary change. Maybe you can ask if they can put you in Y/B fare (which also earns 150% PQM)?

Good luck!
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Old May 2, 19, 7:24 am
  #955  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Florida
Programs: UA 2MM, AA Platinum
Posts: 1,863
Flying today at 4:00pm, I am booked in U, wife is in L. Want to SDC to 12:30pm flight. ExpertFlyer and UA expert mode show U1 L0. Interesting that the app offers BOTH wife and me SDC to 12:30pm flight, even though she is in L.

I called UA and they cannot confirm us both because only one seat left. Flight status shows "economy Full". What do you think the chances of 2 seats becoming available? Or would you recommend confirming one SDC now and hoping for one more to come up?
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Old May 2, 19, 8:26 am
  #956  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
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Originally Posted by BangkokTraveler View Post
What do you think the chances of 2 seats becoming available? Or would you recommend confirming one SDC now and hoping for one more to come up?
What's the inventory in Y?

Standby doesn't require fare-class availability, so you could always try that.
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Old May 2, 19, 11:51 am
  #957  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Floating around
Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Silver (1MM), Marriott LT Titanium
Posts: 8,221
Originally Posted by BangkokTraveler View Post
Flying today at 4:00pm, I am booked in U, wife is in L. Want to SDC to 12:30pm flight. ExpertFlyer and UA expert mode show U1 L0. Interesting that the app offers BOTH wife and me SDC to 12:30pm flight, even though she is in L.

I called UA and they cannot confirm us both because only one seat left. Flight status shows "economy Full". What do you think the chances of 2 seats becoming available? Or would you recommend confirming one SDC now and hoping for one more to come up?
Be careful with this. In addition to the "changes" UA has programmed for SDC in the mobile app, it is now erroneously showing flights that are NOT available for you to SDC to. I've had this happen three times in the past few weeks. And I knew the flights weren't available because I have an EF subscription and I knew ahead of time which flights I could get on (even within the ridiculous new rules of only non-stops, same day, etc.)

Sure enough, when I select one of the flights I know isn't valid I get an error that basically says "due to changing inventory, this flight is no longer available." You're then given options to go back and see other SDC options or keep your original itinerary.

My guess is if you chose the flight for your wife (who is on an "L" fare), it would have presented the same error above. You could have made the change though on your "U" fare. But then one of you is flying at 12:30p while the other goes at 4:00p. Maybe that was the desired result

PS - this bug is not related to changing inventory FYI. The flight that I was presented with on this past trip didn't have my fare class (Z) open for days.

-RM
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Old May 2, 19, 1:06 pm
  #958  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA 1K 2MM; Marriott Platinum; IHG Platinum
Posts: 3,311
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
Be careful with this. In addition to the "changes" UA has programmed for SDC in the mobile app, it is now erroneously showing flights that are NOT available for you to SDC to. I've had this happen three times in the past few weeks. And I knew the flights weren't available because I have an EF subscription and I knew ahead of time which flights I could get on (even within the ridiculous new rules of only non-stops, same day, etc.)

Sure enough, when I select one of the flights I know isn't valid I get an error that basically says "due to changing inventory, this flight is no longer available." You're then given options to go back and see other SDC options or keep your original itinerary.

My guess is if you chose the flight for your wife (who is on an "L" fare), it would have presented the same error above. You could have made the change though on your "U" fare. But then one of you is flying at 12:30p while the other goes at 4:00p. Maybe that was the desired result

PS - this bug is not related to changing inventory FYI. The flight that I was presented with on this past trip didn't have my fare class (Z) open for days.

-RM
I encountered the error message that you described a few times. I had a prior SDC on outbound flights on App. When I SDCed the return flights, this message came out even though I tried to SDC from two segments to two segments or one segment to another. If I had SDC done with an agent on the outbound or earlier flights, this message did not occur and I could successfully complete an SDC.
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Old May 2, 19, 3:40 pm
  #959  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Florida
Programs: UA 2MM, AA Platinum
Posts: 1,863
So I decided to SDC my wife on the L fare if it was offered to her. About 3 hours before the 12:30 flight, she got the 12:30 p.m. flight as a SDC option. I immediately accepted it and it went through okay. Then I pulled up my app and I also got the SDC offer for the 12:30 p.m., which I accepted immediately and it went through okay. Just before I did both of these things, there was U1 L0 available on expertflyer, and immediately after I made the changes, there was also U1 L0 available on expertflyer.

I guess I should chalk this up to very quickly changing inventory, or the United system dynamically adding another seat once one is taken. I guess the odd part was she did her SDC from L when there was never L1 as far as I saw.
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Old May 2, 19, 8:46 pm
  #960  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA 1K 2MM; Marriott Platinum; IHG Platinum
Posts: 3,311
Originally Posted by BangkokTraveler View Post
So I decided to SDC my wife on the L fare if it was offered to her. About 3 hours before the 12:30 flight, she got the 12:30 p.m. flight as a SDC option. I immediately accepted it and it went through okay. Then I pulled up my app and I also got the SDC offer for the 12:30 p.m., which I accepted immediately and it went through okay. Just before I did both of these things, there was U1 L0 available on expertflyer, and immediately after I made the changes, there was also U1 L0 available on expertflyer.

I guess I should chalk this up to very quickly changing inventory, or the United system dynamically adding another seat once one is taken. I guess the odd part was she did her SDC from L when there was never L1 as far as I saw.
It is a good outcome.
Did you to try the same booking and check inventory with expert mode? I do not know that expertflyer instantly updates the UA inventory. Someone may be able to give you a definite answer.
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