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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 Sep 4, 19, 2:11 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 30, 19, 8:03 am
  #1306  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: EAU
Programs: UA 1K, CO Plat, NW Plat, Marriott Premiere Plat, SPG Plat, Priority Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 4,546
Originally Posted by legalalien View Post

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.
My experience has been that if the connection is less than 4 hours, it recognizes the final destination, and if it's more than 4 (domestically) it will let you change them separately, regardless of whether they're separately fared or not. Was your connection less than 4 hours?

Limited sample size though.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 9:19 am
  #1307  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,900
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
My experience has been that if the connection is less than 4 hours, it recognizes the final destination, and if it's more than 4 (domestically) it will let you change them separately, regardless of whether they're separately fared or not. Was your connection less than 4 hours?

Limited sample size though.
A domestic transfer greater than 4 hours is automatically a stopover unless that's the next available flight (and, even then, United's pricing engine seems to be pricing it as a stopover), so that behavior makes sense.

IME, it also allows you to SDC segments individually when you're doing an overnight transfer, even on an international itinerary where that doesn't create a stopover.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 11:29 am
  #1308  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: ORD
Programs: UA 1K, AA PLT, Hertz PC, National EC Executive, Marriott/SPG/Hilton Gold
Posts: 1,222
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
My experience has been that if the connection is less than 4 hours, it recognizes the final destination, and if it's more than 4 (domestically) it will let you change them separately, regardless of whether they're separately fared or not. Was your connection less than 4 hours?
Connection at LAX was less than 4 hours (not a stopover), but I have actually given up trying to figure out SDC logic. I had ORD-SFO in the early morning and an SFO-LAX-ORD return late evening; a fairly vanilla business day trip. Prior to the outbound, the app kept offering to take me to LAX with a stopover in SFO, e.g., late morning flight to SFO connecting to an early afternoon flight to LAX. Once I got to SFO, it started offering various SFO-LAX-ORD combinations .. except the one I really wanted, on the 772-operated LAX-ORD flight.

My memory may be failing me, but I recall that prior to the latest app refresh, I could always SDC the first upcoming segment independent of the rest of the itinerary (when fare buckets were available). That is, I could SDC ORD-SFO to ORD-DEN-SFO, or another ORD-SFO nonstop, or ORD-AUS-SFO, and on the return, I could SDC SFO-LAX to SFO-LAS-LAX while keeping the LAX-ORD segment intact. The new app tries to "guess" my destination point and suggest flights to that airport.

I do realize that the old way may have been too generous and/or too easy to abuse, but it was one of the main reasons I stuck with MileagePlus over the years. The "new" SDC is still better than AA, but not by much. IMHO.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 11:49 am
  #1309  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,900
Originally Posted by legalalien View Post
My memory may be failing me, but I recall that prior to the latest app refresh, I could always SDC the first upcoming segment independent of the rest of the itinerary (when fare buckets were available). That is, I could SDC ORD-SFO to ORD-DEN-SFO, or another ORD-SFO nonstop, or ORD-AUS-SFO, and on the return, I could SDC SFO-LAX to SFO-LAS-LAX while keeping the LAX-ORD segment intact. The new app tries to "guess" my destination point and suggest flights to that airport.
That definitely isn't the case. It's always offered flights all the way through to the next stopover point. If you're checked in on ORD-(SFO)-LAX, it's going to offer you flights to LAX; that hasn't changed. It's possible that it's gotten smarter about dealing with broken fares, and I suppose it's possible that you've flown on a lot of broken fares, but the system has not worked the way that you describe -- at least, not within the last 5+ years that I've been paying close attention.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 12:43 pm
  #1310  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: BWI/DCA/IAD
Programs: UA 1K, Marriott Plat., Hilton Diamond, Hertz Pres
Posts: 134
Not sure if this was previously noted, but the app is back to showing change of calendar day and change of connecting city. Very good news!
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Old Jul 30, 19, 2:26 pm
  #1311  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: EAU
Programs: UA 1K, CO Plat, NW Plat, Marriott Premiere Plat, SPG Plat, Priority Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 4,546
Originally Posted by HKBelonger View Post
Not sure if this was previously noted, but the app is back to showing change of calendar day and change of connecting city. Very good news!
I'm definitely showing flight options for today and tomorrow for a flight scheduled tomorrow. Will check if I see options for Thursday tomorrow morning.
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Old Jul 30, 19, 2:46 pm
  #1312  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: SFO
Posts: 98
Originally Posted by HKBelonger View Post
Not sure if this was previously noted, but the app is back to showing change of calendar day and change of connecting city. Very good news!
That's fantastic news! As recently as last week I had to call to make a next-day change. Now I wonder if the limits were a glitch all along, or a trial balloon for a policy change? Either way, I'm relieved and happy.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 1:21 pm
  #1313  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: EAU
Programs: UA 1K, CO Plat, NW Plat, Marriott Premiere Plat, SPG Plat, Priority Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 4,546
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
I'm definitely showing flight options for today and tomorrow for a flight scheduled tomorrow. Will check if I see options for Thursday tomorrow morning.
Can confirm I'm seeing SDC options in the app on a flight departing in 2 hours to flights tomorrow.

This is pretty much THE benefit that keeps me with United, and has me evangelizing United to other frequent flyers in my industry. Had a 5-hour drive to the airport and while I COULD have made the original flight time, the ability to bump it back two hours just made life easier today. It doesn't cost the airline anything (only works if there's seats available, and I'd never pay the change fee+fare difference if the policy were more restrictive), delivers a lot of loyalty value.

Last edited by raehl311; Jul 31, 19 at 1:27 pm
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:02 pm
  #1314  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: DEN
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Posts: 2,525
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
This is pretty much THE benefit that keeps me with United, and has me evangelizing United to other frequent flyers in my industry. Had a 5-hour drive to the airport and while I COULD have made the original flight time, the ability to bump it back two hours just made life easier today. It doesn't cost the airline anything (only works if there's seats available, and I'd never pay the change fee+fare difference if the policy were more restrictive), delivers a lot of loyalty value.
+1 else I would just be booking BE fares on UA/DL/AA depending on which schedule is convenient provided WN is not too expensive.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:07 pm
  #1315  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1k
Posts: 238
I'm looking at booking SFO-BOS-EWR in biz as it is coming quite a bit cheaper for the set of dates I want than SFO-EWR non-stop. When I look at the underlying faring it is in fact SFO-BOS in D and then BOS-EWR in Z. Can I on the day switch to SFO-EWR non-stop if D opens up? Does SDC enforce the routing restrictions for p.s. or does it look at origin and destination?
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:09 pm
  #1316  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
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Originally Posted by mrt88 View Post
I'm looking at booking SFO-BOS-EWR in biz as it is coming quite a bit cheaper for the set of dates I want than SFO-EWR non-stop. When I look at the underlying faring it is in fact SFO-BOS in D and then BOS-EWR in Z. Can I on the day switch to SFO-EWR non-stop if D opens up? Does SDC enforce the routing restrictions for p.s. or does it look at origin and destination?
You will definitely not be able to use the app to eliminate the fare break in BOS with a change of booking code. Doubt an agent would either, but you can always ask.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:17 pm
  #1317  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1k
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
You will definitely not be able to use the app to eliminate the fare break in BOS with a change of booking code. Doubt an agent would either, but you can always ask.
Thanks for the super quick reply! What if I have both in D? That is still much cheaper than the non-stop
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:25 pm
  #1318  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
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Posts: 9,559
Originally Posted by mrt88 View Post
Thanks for the super quick reply! What if I have both in D? That is still much cheaper than the non-stop
I'm not sure what the app will do in that case; you're still not "supposed" to be able to SDC but I think if the booking code is the same all the way through it might trick the app.
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Old Jul 31, 19, 2:31 pm
  #1319  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1k
Posts: 238
Originally Posted by findark View Post
I'm not sure what the app will do in that case; you're still not "supposed" to be able to SDC but I think if the booking code is the same all the way through it might trick the app.
Thanks again findark! I'll post back to let the thread know how it goes!
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Old Jul 31, 19, 6:55 pm
  #1320  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 41
I am Premier Gold on UA 229 IAD-SAN this Friday 8/2. I'm flying on a Y fare and have GS miles applied for a MUA. Unfortunately it is currently J0 and I am thinking I will likely not clear! Looking at other flights that day, specifically UA2219/UA2261 IAD-IAH-SAN, there is PN1 available. Can I SDC to a flight like this T-24?
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