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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 Oct 18, 19, 7:57 pm   -   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 May 21, 19, 7:50 pm
  #1036  
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
Usually, changes on Non-Flexible Economy fares depend on Non-Flexible Economy availability and Flexible availability depend on seat availability.
Huh? No-charge SDC always depends upon the same fare class being available. Flexible vs non-flexible is irrelevant.

Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
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.
Availability changes constantly, in both directions. It's not uncommon to see flight inventory disappear, nor is it uncommon to see it reappear as plans change. Also, in order to do an SDC, you need to be within 24 hours of both flights -- the one you're on now and the one you're targeting. It's almost impossible to move a flight 24 hours ahead in one SDC, because by the time you're eligible for a change, you've no-showed your existing flight.

The core question -- still unanswered, in my opinion -- is whether or not there are recent experiences with this given that the app is seemingly no longer showing next-day options and you'd need to call to make them.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:06 pm
  #1037  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Huh? No-charge SDC always depends upon the same fare class being available. Flexible vs non-flexible is irrelevant.

Availability changes constantly, in both directions. It's not uncommon to see flight inventory disappear, nor is it uncommon to see it reappear as plans change. Also, in order to do an SDC, you need to be within 24 hours of both flights -- the one you're on now and the one you're targeting. It's almost impossible to move a flight 24 hours ahead in one SDC, because by the time you're eligible for a change, you've no-showed your existing flight.

The core question -- still unanswered, in my opinion -- is whether or not there are recent experiences with this given that the app is seemingly no longer showing next-day options and you'd need to call to make them.
I remember, in March 2019. I was going to fly LAX-IAD on a red-eye on Sunday on an L fare. However, last minute, Monday morning at 08:00 am, an important event has been scheduled and I needed to attend. So I've changed my flight to the 1:00 PM departure on Sunday and obviously there was no L fare ( discounted Economy ) available. I am %100 sure that United won't sell $139 walk-in tickets for a transcontinental flight on a Sunday which was fully booked at the time we boarded. I had no issues transferring my flight 24 hours before my originally booked flight. I have also intended to take the 787-10 to EWR and connect to a regional plane ( which would depart around Sunday 09:00 am and arrive at the same time with the 1:00 PM direct ) but I wasn't able to change for that specific combination even it was bookable via united.com. Then I individually checked every flight on the SDC list with the bookable options and in the SDC list, only "all" flights that had Economy Non-Flex availability were visible on the SDC list.

I would fly United next week ( Friday ) and being relied on to the SDC process, I bought a cheaper option from my origin to my destination in L fare as the flights that I am intending to take had only Q class ( or expensive fare classes ) available at that time. I would check the fare availability at expertflyer once I have changed my flights and report it back here.

To answer your core question, that Sunday morning I was able to see Monday 06:00 AM-08:00 AM departures on the SDC list.
However, I would re-answer this core question with screenshots next Thursday or Friday.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:15 pm
  #1038  
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
I remember, in March 2019. I was going to fly LAX-IAD on a red-eye on Sunday on an L fare. However, last minute, Monday morning at 08:00 am, an important event has been scheduled and I needed to attend. So I've changed my flight to the 1:00 PM departure on Sunday and obviously there was no L fare ( discounted Economy ) available.
Whether or not there is a fare available is irrelevant. For free SDC, you need inventory in the correct fare bucket, but there does not need to be a fare that covers that inventory. (Meaning: you may be able to change an existing ticket to use that flight, but you can't buy a new ticket at that fare).

Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
only "all" flights that had Economy Non-Flex availability were visible on the SDC list.
There is no such thing as "Economy Non-Flex availability." What you saw was a coincidence. If you look at the inventory in ExpertFlyer, as you suggest, you would have seen L availability on those flights, and no L availability on the flights that were not offered.

Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
I would fly United next week ( Friday ) and being relied on to the SDC process, I bought a cheaper option from my origin to my destination in L fare as the flights that I am intending to take had only Q class ( or expensive fare classes ) available at that time. I would check the fare availability at expertflyer once I have changed my flights and report it back here.
I hope they will open the inventory you need.

Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
To answer your core question, that Sunday morning I was able to see Monday 06:00 AM-08:00 AM departures on the SDC list.
However, I would re-answer this core question with screenshots next Thursday or Friday.
This is a good piece of information, as many people have not been able to see next-day departures on the SDC list recently. Were you using the app?
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Old May 21, 19, 8:24 pm
  #1039  
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Whether or not there is a fare available is irrelevant. For free SDC, you need inventory in the correct fare bucket, but there does not need to be a fare that covers that inventory. (Meaning: you may be able to change an existing ticket to use that flight, but you can't buy a new ticket at that fare).
Interesting, definitely this time I would have a look. It could also be a system glitch in my experience.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
There is no such thing as "Economy Non-Flex availability." What you saw was a coincidence. If you look at the inventory in ExpertFlyer, as you suggest, you would have seen L availability on those flights, and no L availability on the flights that were not offered.
What I mean by Economy non-flexible is the column that I have squared the header in red.




Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I hope they will open the inventory you need.
I wish the same.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
This is a good piece of information, as many people have not been able to see next-day departures on the SDC list recently. Were you using the app?
It was the iPhone app that I have used.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:24 pm
  #1040  
 
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
I am %100 sure that United won't sell $139 walk-in tickets for a transcontinental flight on a Sunday which was fully booked at the time we boarded.
Keep in mind it is primarily the advance purchase requirements written into the fare rules and not individual fare bucket availability that prevents this from occurring. It is not uncommon to see all fare classes open close to departure even up to G9 which would allow a free SDC on any fare while the cheapest fare available for sale may be close to full fare.
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Old May 21, 19, 8:31 pm
  #1041  
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
What I mean by Economy non-flexible is the column that I have squared the header in red.
I understand. What's happening in those columns is that it's a combination of the fare and the inventory. Now, on a day when you see both "flexible" and "non-flexible," it's generally the case that less-expensive inventory buckets are available on the "non-flexible" flights. However, that's not a hard-and-fast rule; there may be other reasons for a fare not to apply to some of the flights. For example, some fares are coded to disallow non-stop travel, or require travel before 7 AM, or etc.

Also, it's possible for there to be no non-flexible fares applicable at all, but there could still be plenty of discount inventory.

The only way to know what should be available for SDC is to look at the inventory buckets for that particular flight.

Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
It was the iPhone app that I have used.
That's good news, as the app has definitely been problematic for some people. I'm still hoping that they're not actually changing the SDC rules...

Originally Posted by WakeTurbulence View Post
Keep in mind it is primarily the advance purchase requirements written into the fare rules and not individual fare bucket availability that prevents this from occurring. It is not uncommon to see all fare classes open close to departure even up to G9 which would allow a free SDC on any fare while the cheapest fare available for sale may be close to full fare.
Precisely.
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Old May 22, 19, 5:35 am
  #1042  
 
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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.
If it's a question of getting back early, did you look at the routes NRT via HNL?
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Old May 22, 19, 6:02 am
  #1043  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
I remember, in March 2019. I was going to fly LAX-IAD on a red-eye on Sunday on an L fare. However, last minute, Monday morning at 08:00 am, an important event has been scheduled and I needed to attend. So I've changed my flight to the 1:00 PM departure on Sunday and obviously there was no L fare ( discounted Economy ) available. I am %100 sure that United won't sell $139 walk-in tickets for a transcontinental flight on a Sunday which was fully booked at the time we boarded. I had no issues transferring my flight 24 hours before my originally booked flight. I have also intended to take the 787-10 to EWR and connect to a regional plane ( which would depart around Sunday 09:00 am and arrive at the same time with the 1:00 PM direct ) but I wasn't able to change for that specific combination even it was bookable via united.com. Then I individually checked every flight on the SDC list with the bookable options and in the SDC list, only "all" flights that had Economy Non-Flex availability were visible on the SDC list.

I would fly United next week ( Friday ) and being relied on to the SDC process, I bought a cheaper option from my origin to my destination in L fare as the flights that I am intending to take had only Q class ( or expensive fare classes ) available at that time. I would check the fare availability at expertflyer once I have changed my flights and report it back here.

To answer your core question, that Sunday morning I was able to see Monday 06:00 AM-08:00 AM departures on the SDC list.
However, I would re-answer this core question with screenshots next Thursday or Friday.
I think something got lost in this discussion when it got focused on the 'flexible' designation. If you are describing an experience with the app in March 2019, that is outdated. The changes happened sometime in early April 2019; as recently as four days ago, my experience was the app still does not offer calendar day changes. If you do have a recent countervailing experience, though, that would be of interest.
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Old May 22, 19, 7:28 am
  #1044  
 
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Is this an app only issue, or did the policy change? I'm hoping that I would still be able to call to get a SDC to the first flight out tomorrow morning instead of the last one tonight.
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Old May 22, 19, 7:37 am
  #1045  
 
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Originally Posted by flandery View Post
Is this an app only issue, or did the policy change? I'm hoping that I would still be able to call to get a SDC to the first flight out tomorrow morning instead of the last one tonight.
Policy has not changed, but the app has usually been significantly more lenient than the policy. You should be fine making your SDC by agent though.
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Old May 22, 19, 10:16 am
  #1046  
 
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
I think something got lost in this discussion when it got focused on the 'flexible' designation. If you are describing an experience with the app in March 2019, that is outdated. The changes happened sometime in early April 2019; as recently as four days ago, my experience was the app still does not offer calendar day changes. If you do have a recent countervailing experience, though, that would be of interest.
Next week ( possibly Thursday or Friday ), I would report my recent experience with United SDC.
I would check the following and report it here;
- if only flights with the same or lower fare availability are available ( sharing the expertflyer availability at the same time )
- if I could rebook to the following calendar day
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Old May 22, 19, 10:39 am
  #1047  
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
.... - if only flights with the same or lower fare availability are available ....
It is the same "fare class" as booked availability that is needed, not an actual fare. That has been the rule since day one.
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Old May 22, 19, 10:40 am
  #1048  
 
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sdc requires same fare bucket to be available on the flight you want to change to. United typically opens all fare buckets few hours before departure if there are seats open.

sometimes you need to call 1K Desk to have them switch your flight if there is availability on expertflyer but if you cannot change on the app or website.
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Old May 22, 19, 10:48 am
  #1049  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
It is the same "fare class" as booked availability that is needed, not an actual fare. That has been the rule since day one.
can one downgrade class from PP to Economy for SDC purposes?
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Old May 22, 19, 11:09 am
  #1050  
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Originally Posted by aricane View Post
United typically opens all fare buckets few hours before departure if there are seats open.
In my experience, this isn't really the case anymore. If they level the buckets at all, it's often not until 2 hours or less before the flight, and increasingly I'm finding that they don't level them at all unless inventory is wide open.

Originally Posted by myperks View Post
can one downgrade class from PP to Economy for SDC purposes?
I believe that this is technically outside of policy, but it's something that some agents will allow.
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