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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
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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 May 17, 19, 2:13 pm
  #1021  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA 1K 2MM; Marriott Platinum; IHG Platinum
Posts: 3,299
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
New waitlist requests inside of 24 hours are against policy, so not only would you need to find an agent who knows how to do it, you'd need to find one who's willing to do it as well.
The probability for success is the product of xxx and yyy, where xxx is the probability of an agent knowledge on the specific SDC task and yyy is the probability of agent’s willingness to help you. If both xxx and yyy are 0.30 (30%), you get a success rate of 0.09 (9%).
If you see I space of your target flight, you can make a call to get it. This success rate is much higher.
Good luck.
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Old May 18, 19, 8:53 pm
  #1022  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SFO
Posts: 2,525
Has anyone SDCed on a revenue PremPlum fare to a flight that doesn’t have PremPlus? I’m booked on the LHR flight that has PremPlus but want to get on the later one that (may) have PremPlus seating but not sold as such yet because of polarization. I wonder if they will just book you into Y/B class since A/R class gets 150% pqm.
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Old May 18, 19, 10:38 pm
  #1023  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Posts: 9,251
Several weeks ago I booked a roundtrip itinerary LAX-MSY. The return itinerary was MSY-SFO and SFO-LAX, to which I applied a MUA. When I went to print my boarding passes this morning at MSY for the return the 'Flight Options' screen offerred me a MSY-EWR and EWR-LAX itinerary arriving in LAX just two hours after my originally-scheduled flights with seat assignments in First and (on the p.s. flight) Business at $0. Since I had extra time on a Saturday I took the option for the extra PQM and for the p.s. Business class lie-flat product, which was wonderful.

It didn't occur to me until I arrived at LAX that had I originally scheduled the itinerary I ultimately flew it would have cost me an additional $250 co-pay to apply the MUA and fly in the p.s. Business class. Has anyone else had a similar offer or experience?
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Old May 19, 19, 5:24 am
  #1024  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 4,802
Originally Posted by kale73 View Post
Several weeks ago I booked a roundtrip itinerary LAX-MSY. The return itinerary was MSY-SFO and SFO-LAX, to which I applied a MUA. When I went to print my boarding passes this morning at MSY for the return the 'Flight Options' screen offerred me a MSY-EWR and EWR-LAX itinerary arriving in LAX just two hours after my originally-scheduled flights with seat assignments in First and (on the p.s. flight) Business at $0. Since I had extra time on a Saturday I took the option for the extra PQM and for the p.s. Business class lie-flat product, which was wonderful.

It didn't occur to me until I arrived at LAX that had I originally scheduled the itinerary I ultimately flew it would have cost me an additional $250 co-pay to apply the MUA and fly in the p.s. Business class. Has anyone else had a similar offer or experience?
I infer your MUA had already cleared for MSY-SFO/SFO-LAX by the time you checked in. If so, although I haven't seen anyone report exact analogues to your experience with (t.)p.s., overall it is in line with the reports of SDC function preserving PZ in making changes.
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Old May 19, 19, 9:56 pm
  #1025  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 260
I have a ticket GUM-NRT and then NRT - IAD on UA and on Sunday and want to take the same route on Saturday instead. There is only one NRT-IAD on UA nonstop. In order to do SDC do I have to be within 24 hours of both the GUM-NRT and NRT-IAD or can I be within 24 hours of the GUM-NRT flight and try to move to the NRT-IAD at that same time? If the GUM - NRT or NRT-IAD does not have booking fare can I voluntarily take coach so I can do the SDC or if a connection via NRT such as NRT-ORD-IAD becomes available is that allowed? Thanks!
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Old May 19, 19, 10:07 pm
  #1026  
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Originally Posted by britinva79 View Post
I have a ticket GUM-NRT and then NRT - IAD on UA and on Sunday and want to take the same route on Saturday instead. There is only one NRT-IAD on UA nonstop. In order to do SDC do I have to be within 24 hours of both the GUM-NRT and NRT-IAD or can I be within 24 hours of the GUM-NRT flight and try to move to the NRT-IAD at that same time? If the GUM - NRT or NRT-IAD does not have booking fare can I voluntarily take coach so I can do the SDC or if a connection via NRT such as NRT-ORD-IAD becomes available is that allowed? Thanks!
Technically, you need to be within 24 hours of your first scheduled flight and 24 hours of your first desired flight. So, if you have a long connection on Sunday, it is within the rules to switch to a shorter connection on Saturday and thus take the the NRT-IAD nonstop. That said, it may take a couple of agents before you get one that will do it, because it may "feel" wrong.

If your fare allows an ORD transfer -- most do -- you could SDC into GUM-NRT-ORD-IAD, but you'll need inventory all the way through. This will take an agent, and, again, some may push back.

Downgrading a business class ticket to coach is not technically within the SDC rules but there are reports that some agents will allow it.
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Old May 19, 19, 10:12 pm
  #1027  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 260
Thanks, currently both flights are scheduled for Sunday 7 AM and then a 3 hr layover in Tokyo. I guess I will try on Saturday morning to see if they'll let me switch to a flight later in the day on Saturday so I can catch an evening connecting in Tokyo back to DC.
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Old May 19, 19, 10:20 pm
  #1028  
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Originally Posted by britinva79 View Post
Thanks, currently both flights are scheduled for Sunday 7 AM and then a 3 hr layover in Tokyo. I guess I will try on Saturday morning to see if they'll let me switch to a flight later in the day on Saturday so I can catch an evening connecting in Tokyo back to DC.
Your SDC window would open at 7 AM Saturday, then.

Are you sure about the layover time? The NRT-IAD flight is a 4 PM departure during the summer and a 5 PM departure during the winter. You should have a 5-6 hour layover currently, meaning that if you call at exactly T-24, you may be able to get onto the noon flight Saturday connecting to the NRT-IAD nonstop.
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Old May 19, 19, 10:32 pm
  #1029  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 260
Ugh. I just rechecked my itinerary and you're right, I am actually on the 12.05 on Sunday not 7.05. So don't think that this will work after all as they're not going to let me change to the 12.05 on Saturday when I'm booked for Sunday at 12.05.
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Old May 19, 19, 10:47 pm
  #1030  
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Originally Posted by britinva79 View Post
Ugh. I just rechecked my itinerary and you're right, I am actually on the 12.05 on Sunday not 7.05. So don't think that this will work after all as they're not going to let me change to the 12.05 on Saturday when I'm booked for Sunday at 12.05.
Ah. Unfortunately, yes, that is likely to be a problem. You can call and hope for a sympathetic agent, but your chances aren't good.

The 5 PM flight arrives at NRT too late to be of any help, unfortunately. There are no UA-operated departures after that flight arrives. You can try to get moved to an NH-operated flight on a UA codeshare, but that's typically extremely difficult to do (read: generally impossible).

Is this the outbound, return, or a one-way flight?
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Old May 19, 19, 10:54 pm
  #1031  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 260
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Is this the outbound, return, or a one-way flight?
This is the return portion. It was cheaper to fly to HKG with return through Guam by $4k but now need to be back sooner than previously expected. We’ll see what happens. Txs for the advice.
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Old May 19, 19, 11:00 pm
  #1032  
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Originally Posted by britinva79 View Post
This is the return portion. It was cheaper to fly to HKG with return through Guam by $4k but now need to be back sooner than previously expected. We’ll see what happens. Txs for the advice.
No problem.

The reason that I ask is that, typically, changing the return after flying the outbound does not involve a re-price if the same inventory class is available and all fare rules of the original ticket are met. So, while you may not be able to change for free, if there's inventory in your fare bucket, it's worth calling UA to see if you can do the change for only the change fee. It's not as good as $0, but it may be better than nothing.
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Old May 21, 19, 6:03 pm
  #1033  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 182
Hi, I can't seem to locate the discussion on this even though I know I saw it before. After we SDC to a new flight that's later than original scheduled flight, can we then subsequently re-SDC again to another later flight that is now going to be more than 24 hours past original scheduled flight? I vaguely remembered someone said that United is/has tightening this rule to enforce that all SDC cannot be more than 24 hours of original scheduled flight. Can someone confirm this or we continue to have the flexibility to SDC multiple times to push the dates out? Thanks.
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Old May 21, 19, 7:12 pm
  #1034  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Originally Posted by qplazm1982 View Post
Hi, I can't seem to locate the discussion on this even though I know I saw it before. After we SDC to a new flight that's later than original scheduled flight, can we then subsequently re-SDC again to another later flight that is now going to be more than 24 hours past original scheduled flight? I vaguely remembered someone said that United is/has tightening this rule to enforce that all SDC cannot be more than 24 hours of original scheduled flight. Can someone confirm this or we continue to have the flexibility to SDC multiple times to push the dates out? Thanks.
In the past, I have SDC from an original flight on a Friday to the following Monday (over a weekend) you have to be prepared to fly at a moments notice if space is not available. I had a high fare basis, so things worked out perfectly..
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Old May 21, 19, 7:21 pm
  #1035  
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Originally Posted by qplazm1982 View Post
Hi, I can't seem to locate the discussion on this even though I know I saw it before. After we SDC to a new flight that's later than original scheduled flight, can we then subsequently re-SDC again to another later flight that is now going to be more than 24 hours past original scheduled flight? I vaguely remembered someone said that United is/has tightening this rule to enforce that all SDC cannot be more than 24 hours of original scheduled flight. Can someone confirm this or we continue to have the flexibility to SDC multiple times to push the dates out? Thanks.
You could apply SDC multiple times; however, as Flying Machine mentioned, you need to be ready to fly or waste that ticket in case there is no availability within the next 24 hours. Usually, changes on Non-Flexible Economy fares depend on Non-Flexible Economy availability and Flexible availability depend on seat availability. Also if you want to fly on a specific flight, I would suggest to change to that flight 23 to 24 hours before departure time. Otherwise, you could end up with no availability closer to the flight.
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