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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
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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 Jul 27, 19, 12:15 pm
  #1291  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
There is a massive difference between airports that show up in a revenue search and those through which you can legally route most domestic fares. When you search IAH-SFO and see IAH-AUS-SFO as an option, the website is stitching together two fares: an IAH-AUS fare plus an AUS-SFO fare.

Thus, when the app offers to allow you to change IAH-SFO to IAH-AUS-SFO, it is (once again) ignoring the fare's routing rules entirely. That's very good news for flexible SDC: for quite a while, it seemed that the app was starting to enforce the actual rules of the fare that you bought -- which, for domestic travel, rarely/never allow you to transit through outstations.
During the beginning of this year, most of my travel was ending or originating at an outstation, so generally my SDC options were only offered through hubs. I can't say what the behavior was for hub-hub travel at that time.

However, starting in early June, most of my travel has started/ended at hubs on both ends. I looked at my flight history and I have done several hub-outstation-hub SDC's in that time. The key is that If I can see the flight combination on a revenue search, it "usually" shows up as an SDC option. And you are correct, it has gone back to ignoring the routing rules of the fare again.
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Old Jul 27, 19, 12:18 pm
  #1292  
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Originally Posted by FlyngSvyr View Post
However, starting in early June, most of my travel on both ends has started/ended at hubs on both ends. I looked at my flight history and I have done several hub-outstation-hub SDC's in that time.
Perhaps that's when they started to loosen the restrictions.
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Old Jul 28, 19, 5:43 pm
  #1293  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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i found a flight on aeroplan from EWR-SFO lands at 1 am-BUR takes off at 7 am in business. what are the odds of getting the EWR-SFO on SDC in the app so i can arrive much earlier? would i even be eligible for SDC?
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Old Jul 28, 19, 7:06 pm
  #1294  
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Originally Posted by Amil View Post
i found a flight on aeroplan from EWR-SFO lands at 1 am-BUR takes off at 7 am in business. what are the odds of getting the EWR-SFO on SDC in the app so i can arrive much earlier?
Saver/partner business award inventory on EWR-SFO is extremely difficult to find. The chance that there's another flight to change to is negligible...

Originally Posted by Amil View Post
would i even be eligible for SDC?
... which is good, because you're not eligible for SDC. Your ticket is under Aeroplan's rules, not UA's.

If the app allowed you to SDC, everything might be fine. Or, it might require that the ticket be reissued... and UA can't reissue the ticket, because they didn't issue it in the first place.

You may be able to stand by for an earlier flight -- which doesn't involve changing the ticket and so is safe -- but you'd likely end up in Economy.
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Old Jul 28, 19, 11:42 pm
  #1295  
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
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So feel really stupid asking this question but for a couple of reasons I would like to SDC from the SIN-SFO flight from the 9pm departure to the morning departure so I do not need to overnight in SFO.

I have been upgraded (PZ) so do not want to lose the upgrade and currently my fare class is available but I would not want to change if I lose the upgrade. It is a Tuesday flight and currently there appears to be availability.

Am I better off checking in and then calling in for the SDC or calling 24 hours before my flight and seeing if there is availability on the earlier flight.

TIA
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Old Jul 29, 19, 12:49 am
  #1296  
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle View Post
Am I better off checking in and then calling in for the SDC or calling 24 hours before my flight and seeing if there is availability on the earlier flight.
Whether you check in first or not doesn't matter, but do not try to SDC in the app (at least, not without verifying that the app is keeping you in PZ). Call, and tell the agent that you want to SDC and preserve the upgrade. You'll need availability in your original fare class all the way to your destination, and you'll need PZ availability on SIN-SFO.

The behavior where the app was preserving upgrades seems to have gone away, and it's putting people back in coach after an SDC. Granted, it's possible that UA got really clever and will preserve instrument upgrades but not CPUs, but my guess is that it's just a blatant "put you back in coach" logic, and SIN-SFO isn't the flight where I'd want to be a guinea pig.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 8:19 am
  #1297  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I certainly hope so. It's frustrating that it took this long to fix it.

Of course, I imagine they probably also removed the ability to SDC into PN/PZ on other upgrade types (instruments, Y/B/M instant upgrades), where it actually made sense. But, I'd take that trade -- I can always call and SDC if I need to retain an instrument upgrade.
Ok, so PZ->PZ SDC does look dead - the app now clearly shows the original coach buckets as it used to - and I agree that in most cases it's a change for the better.

However, the app and the website no longer show different routing for me this morning. I have SFO-LAX-ORD booked (both segments cleared CPU), but the only options that appear available for SDC are various SFO-LAX-ORD combinations, even though most non-stop flights are wide open all the way to G9, and so are some other connections. I really hope that this is due to a glitch or the fact that I'm booked SFO-LAX in W and LAX-ORD in T and mixed classes confuse SHARES, and not some change to the policy. Will try a UC agent when I land and will update.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 8:22 am
  #1298  
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Originally Posted by legalalien View Post
the fact that I'm booked SFO-LAX in W and LAX-ORD in T and mixed classes confuse SHARES
That's precisely the issue. You don't have a ticket for SFO-ORD; you have a ticket to LAX followed by a ticket to ORD.

An agent can put you onto a nonstop flight, because agents can do anything, but your ticket isn't actually valid for nonstop travel.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 9:19 am
  #1299  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Coming back from Europe tried to SDC a 016-stock UA codeshare on LH metal to a UA metal itinerary and two 1K agents I talked to were adamant that wasn't possible.

LH courtesy upgraded my TATL to J, so worked out in the end, but seems like the unpublished ability to switch to UA metal may be at an end.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 9:59 am
  #1300  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
That's precisely the issue. You don't have a ticket for SFO-ORD; you have a ticket to LAX followed by a ticket to ORD.


Single ticket (number); two separately priced segments, I think is the more precise explanation. Interestingly though, the SDC algorithm does recognize that my final destination is ORD. The old app used to allow changing the first segment independently, e.g., SFO-LAX to SFO-LAS-LAX.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
An agent can put you onto a nonstop flight, because agents can do anything, but your ticket isn't actually valid for nonstop travel.
Actually, I just need them to move my LAX-ORD to another wide-open red-eye, but operated by a 772, while preserving PZ.
ETA: An agent did just that.

Last edited by legalalien; Jul 29, 19 at 11:34 am
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Old Jul 29, 19, 10:02 am
  #1301  
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Originally Posted by legalalien View Post
Single ticket (number); two separately priced segments, I think is the more precise explanation. Interestingly though, the system does recognize that my final destination is ORD. The old app used to allow changing the first segment independently, e.g., SFO-LAX to SFO-LAS-LAX.
OK, if you want to be technical about it, two separate fares. But, yes, my wording was imprecise, to say the least.

Originally Posted by legalalien View Post
Actually, I just need them to move my LAX-ORD to another wide-open red-eye, but operated by a 772, while preserving PZ.
Well, if you have an RPU attached, it should be straightforward. If you're hoping to get a CPU preserved... I'll be interested to hear what they say.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 12:00 pm
  #1302  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Well, if you have an RPU attached, it should be straightforward. If you're hoping to get a CPU preserved... I'll be interested to hear what they say.
It was a CPU. The agent at UC SFO did not ask questions; just handed me a new boarding pass.

As a side note, I often find UC agents to be more helpful than 1K phone agents.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 1:28 pm
  #1303  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Saver/partner business award inventory on EWR-SFO is extremely difficult to find. The chance that there's another flight to change to is negligible...


... which is good, because you're not eligible for SDC. Your ticket is under Aeroplan's rules, not UA's.

If the app allowed you to SDC, everything might be fine. Or, it might require that the ticket be reissued... and UA can't reissue the ticket, because they didn't issue it in the first place.

You may be able to stand by for an earlier flight -- which doesn't involve changing the ticket and so is safe -- but you'd likely end up in Economy.
I've never been able to SDC an Aeroplan 014 ticket. Standby has always been possible.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 7:16 pm
  #1304  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Whether you check in first or not doesn't matter, but do not try to SDC in the app (at least, not without verifying that the app is keeping you in PZ). Call, and tell the agent that you want to SDC and preserve the upgrade. You'll need availability in your original fare class all the way to your destination, and you'll need PZ availability on SIN-SFO.

The behavior where the app was preserving upgrades seems to have gone away, and it's putting people back in coach after an SDC. Granted, it's possible that UA got really clever and will preserve instrument upgrades but not CPUs, but my guess is that it's just a blatant "put you back in coach" logic, and SIN-SFO isn't the flight where I'd want to be a guinea pig.
So I called to be told there were no seats available in my fare class for the earlier flight (UA 2) but said I was being offered the change of flight in the app for zero cost and the CS rep then stated there would be no seat available in Polaris, so thanked her and kept my original flight tonight (UA 28). So just checked the flight status for UA 2 to see there is indeed one seat that went out empty in Polaris for the flight. If it makes any difference I called into the 1K desk at 4am for the 8.45am flight.

So I have an extra day in Singapore which is nice but I have to overnight at SFO (the not so great).

They did the callback after the call and i provided my comments about the SDC issues with the app.

Agree i did not want to be in Y for 15+ hours.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 8:59 pm
  #1305  
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle View Post
So I called to be told there were no seats available in my fare class for the earlier flight (UA 2) but said I was being offered the change of flight in the app for zero cost and the CS rep then stated there would be no seat available in Polaris, so thanked her and kept my original flight tonight (UA 28). So just checked the flight status for UA 2 to see there is indeed one seat that went out empty in Polaris for the flight. If it makes any difference I called into the 1K desk at 4am for the 8.45am flight.
If you had gotten the agent to waitlist you -- it's outside of policy, but some will do it anyway -- you presumably would have cleared, but I'd have hated to take that gamble personally.

If you had checked again around 6 or 7, the fare classes might have evened out and you might have gotten a different answer (not necessarily, to be sure).
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