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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 ďchange flightĒ 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 Aug 11, 19, 2:29 pm
  #1366  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
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Originally Posted by tilhas View Post
....
2) My current flight is multi city with stop over in BOS. Soo technically the destination didn't change?
YUL-BOS-TUL-YUL
Changing BOS to MHT
With a stopover you have an intermediate destination, a destination for the SDC, so not allow and except in irroprs very unlikely to occur.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 8:45 pm
  #1367  
 
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Okay, I think Iíve seen some versions of my question answered already but I just want to be sure:

Iím currently booked to fly CVG-IAH-LIR on Friday afternoon. Iíd like to fly CVG-IAH Thursday evening but keep my same IAH-LIR flight on Friday, creating an illegal stopover. Can I do this in the app or should I pray for a merciful CSR? Iím a lowly silver so I donít think that helps much. Thanks!
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Old Aug 11, 19, 9:54 pm
  #1368  
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IME, app wonít offer you any connections using any of your original flights. So if you want to keep either of your flights the same, it will require a call.

Also:
- reports here in the last little while have indicated the app seems to now only offer actual same day options, as opposed to flights at +/- 1 day (within 24 hours), even though the rules havenít changed. So may require a call anyway.
- while creating a stopover isnít technically allowed, the app used to offer this all the time, and some agents donít seem to have a problem worth it. So it might not be the first one, but YMMV.
- Not sure what fare class you are in, but switching to a Thursday evening flight is generally tougher, especially in lower classes, since this is prime business travel time. So unless you are in one of the highest fare classes, and absent an abnormal week with reduced business travel (ie, around holidays, etc.), Id expect to have a fare increase to SDC - again, YMMV.

Either way, this will almost certainly require a call, but can likely be done...though may need to HUCA.
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Old Aug 11, 19, 10:09 pm
  #1369  
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Originally Posted by skelso View Post
Iím currently booked to fly CVG-IAH-LIR on Friday afternoon. Iíd like to fly CVG-IAH Thursday evening but keep my same IAH-LIR flight on Friday, creating an illegal stopover. Can I do this in the app or should I pray for a merciful CSR? Iím a lowly silver so I donít think that helps much. Thanks!
Welcome to FlyerTalk!

Good news! Costa Rica, while on the North American continent, is not in the North America fare zone. Therefore, your CVG-LIR fare allows 24 hour transfers, making a Thursday night flight completely valid -- it does not create a stopover. You'll almost certainly need to call, and you'll need your current fare class to be available all the way from CVG to LIR, including on the flight you're already on, but you shouldn't get a ton of pushback. If you do, HUCA.

(Also, some -- but not all -- fares on this route include a $100 stopover in Houston, so even if you wanted to stay longer than 24 hours at IAH, you may find that it's not too pricy).
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Old Aug 12, 19, 11:13 am
  #1370  
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
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When I SDC, if my new connection is over 4 hours, the tickets are cancelled by United Corporate. When I call they say the connection was over 4 hours, after an hour on hold. This is true even when the airport does the SDC to the next morning. E.g., I have a ticket for LAX-SFO-SEA. I land in SFO at noon and push out SFO-SEA from 2PM till 8 AM. Airport lets me do it, it will be cancelled within hour.

This has happened to me pretty regularly. I would be interested in people's experience if this happens to them, what the rules are - because it's not clear. I'd also be interested if anyone has suggestions on a credit card that would help insure against the airline cancelling the ticket or some other idea. It's awful when they cancel my ticket and strand me in these cities, even as a 1K they don't comp me for hotel and other forced costs then.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 11:37 am
  #1371  
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Welcome to FT!, Derek Khanna
Originally Posted by Derek Khanna View Post
...
This has happened to me pretty regularly. ...
Would guess you done this on a regular basis and your account has been flagged, so a human is reviewing your changes

Originally Posted by Derek Khanna View Post
... what the rules are - because it's not clear. .....
It has been generally assumed the fare rules still apply with a waiver of the change fees. Breaking the fare rules to change a connection to a stopover has been understood to be outside the rules (and questionable) but the systems have not been enforcing that requirement. Appears your activities have been noticed and UA is manually enforcing that rule.

Since UA has told you this, continuing to do this is at your risk and I would not expect accommodation from UA if you continue doing this. There is the remote possibility UA will take more severe sanctions if you continue.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 12:52 pm
  #1372  
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Originally Posted by Derek Khanna View Post
This has happened to me pretty regularly. I would be interested in people's experience if this happens to them, what the rules are - because it's not clear. I'd also be interested if anyone has suggestions on a credit card that would help insure against the airline cancelling the ticket or some other idea. It's awful when they cancel my ticket and strand me in these cities, even as a 1K they don't comp me for hotel and other forced costs then.
Welcome to FlyerTalk!

The rules are actually quite clear, but they're not to your benefit. On a domestic itinerary, any transfer longer than four hours is a stopover, and virtually no discount UA domestic fares allow for stopovers. Thus, UA is entitled to collect the fare difference during the SDC process.

As for canceling the tickets, UA is on shaky ground there, IMO. While their CoC protects them against ticketing practices they consider abusive -- and what you're describing would qualify -- I think the DOT would frown on them refusing to reinstate your original itinerary.

I do agree with WineCountryUA, though; it sounds like you've gotten yourself on a list.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 2:57 pm
  #1373  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Originally Posted by Derek Khanna View Post
When I SDC, if my new connection is over 4 hours, the tickets are cancelled by United Corporate. When I call they say the connection was over 4 hours, after an hour on hold. This is true even when the airport does the SDC to the next morning. E.g., I have a ticket for LAX-SFO-SEA. I land in SFO at noon and push out SFO-SEA from 2PM till 8 AM. Airport lets me do it, it will be cancelled within hour.

This has happened to me pretty regularly. I would be interested in people's experience if this happens to them, what the rules are - because it's not clear. I'd also be interested if anyone has suggestions on a credit card that would help insure against the airline cancelling the ticket or some other idea. It's awful when they cancel my ticket and strand me in these cities, even as a 1K they don't comp me for hotel and other forced costs then.
Only when you push it for an overnight connection or have they actually canceled an itinerary where your connection was same-day, just over 4 hours? And only when you had someone at the airport rebook it for you, or also via app/website? While I see how UA wants to protect themselves against people circumventing the fare rules, it seems like the least they could do is (have you) call and tell you that the change you made requires payment of a fare difference.

I've had the situation once or twice where I SDC'd to a different connection on the UA website, it showed a $0 payment, but when I went ahead and booked this connection, it told me to call customer care because the ticket needed to be reissued. When I called, they told me that the connection I selected wasn't actually free, and that a fare difference of $X needed to be collected -- in which case I decided to go with the original routing.

COC obligations go both ways, and the airline cannot arbitrarily cancel your ticket after one of their employees made a change to it. Flagging you and reversing the change is one way of dealing with it, canceling out your tickets screams WDWYB at me...
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Old Aug 12, 19, 3:05 pm
  #1374  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The rules are actually quite clear, but they're not to your benefit. On a domestic itinerary, any transfer longer than four hours is a stopover, and virtually no discount UA domestic fares allow for stopovers. Thus, UA is entitled to collect the fare difference during the SDC process.
The fact that their systems allow, indeed even proactively offer, $0 changes to flights that result in connection times >4 hours (IRROPS excluded) would tend to mitigate the passenger's responsibility, IMHO (IANAL).

I once accidentally did an SDC during a DEN connection that was to a flight the next morning. (My watch was on a different time zone that led me to believe I was changing onto a flight that would depart in 45 minutes that had indeed already left the gate; always check the DATE on SDC.) I've rarely felt stupider than at that moment. Fortunately, an undertanding CSR at the airport was able to subsequently switch me to a flight later that same day.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 4:38 pm
  #1375  
 
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Originally Posted by whipwhitaker View Post
Flagging you and reversing the change is one way of dealing with it, canceling out your tickets screams WDWYB at me...
What does that mean?
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Old Aug 12, 19, 4:48 pm
  #1376  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Originally Posted by FlyingHighlander View Post
What does that mean?
We donít want your business
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Old Aug 12, 19, 6:55 pm
  #1377  
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Originally Posted by whipwhitaker View Post
....
COC obligations go both ways, and the airline cannot arbitrarily cancel your ticket after one of their employees made a change to it. ...
While I would agree for the first time, but once cautioned by UA and continuing knowing it is a problem (as it appears the OP has done) puts this in a different light IMO,

Based on other incidents, UA does do these extreme remedies unless there have been multiple events. And perhaps the first time the itin was canceled should have been sufficient notice it might be best to stop.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 8:27 pm
  #1378  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
And perhaps the first time the itin was canceled should have been sufficient notice it might be best to stop.
100% agree. What I don’t agree with is the practice of just canceling out itineraries after a UA employee (and possibly the app/website, to be confirmed) makes a change. One can hardly argue (at least in my opinion) that it was an honest mistake to repeatedly walk up to UA employees at the airport and build overnight connections. {Their} MP account should be flagged (which it probably is) and any UA employee should tell him that they can’t touch his record unless it’s an IRROP situation. The second a UA employee is aiding in his attempts to cheat the system, it would be unfair to entirely take it out on the passenger.

Kale73 made a good point when (s)he said that UA’s IT does allow to break fare rules, add invalid connection points, add stopovers without charge etc etc. As of two weeks ago, the app allows to push connecting flights back to the next day again. I haven’t tried it out, just saw that rolling 24h flights are available again for departing and connecting flights in the app. How can UA make a legal argument that a pax violates the CoC if the airline’s native app or website allows to make the change without collecting a fare difference?

Aren’t we supposed to believe a UA agent or their website/app when we’re told that what we’re requesting is permitted? And if not, what’s the next step? Some flights offer free iMessage texting without purchasing WiFi. Should I not use it anymore because it doesn’t say anywhere that it’s a feature and not a bug? Or a second free drink from the FA without collecting payment or a chit?

Wherever there’s something free, people tend to take advantage of it, some more than others. But UA’s more proper response to repeated attempts should’ve been to ban or strip of status, rather than tolerating the fact that its own employees and computer systems allow to actually do it.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Aug 12, 19 at 9:10 pm Reason: Discuss the issue, not the poster(s)
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Old Aug 17, 19, 11:17 am
  #1379  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 229
United Premier Gold - Same day change with additional passengers

Dear Flyertalk Experts,

I tried to determine the answer to this with a google search and a search here, but didn't find it. I apologize in advance if this has already been covered.

I have gold with United and will be traveling with my immediate family on the same reservation. Our itinerary has a very long layover. But there is a better connection. All flights (both the existing reservation and the alternates) are operated by UAL. The question is, if we do a same day change, will my entire family have the $75 same day change fee waived due to my status, or if the status will only waive the fee for my ticket, and we would need to pay the fee for the additional family members.

Thank you,
BJFly
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Old Aug 17, 19, 11:30 am
  #1380  
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Originally Posted by BJfly View Post
...
I have gold with United and will be traveling with my immediate family on the same reservation. Our itinerary has a very long layover. But there is a better connection. All flights (both the existing reservation and the alternates) are operated by UAL. The question is, if we do the same day change, will my entire family have the $75 same day change fee waived due to my status, ....
Yes
But SDC will require inventory space in your purchases fare class, seating together may be difficult to find and with checked bags can create issues (must use an agent).

Additionally, UA waives the SDC fee for all passengers at connecting airports
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