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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 Aug 17, 19, 3:33 am   -   Wikipost
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This wiki was created to distill SDC (and related standby) down to a set of rules in the hopes of benefiting others.

The official "rules" can be found here. In practice, some of the rules almost always apply, and some are more flexible.

Note there have been reports of SDC to one segment removing confirmed CPU upgrades on downline segments. If maintaining the confirmed upgrade is important then these changes should be handled with care.

Most Frequently Asked Question: When do I call/go online to make the change?
Follow this flowchart:
Question 1: Are you within 24 hours of your currently scheduled UA(*) operated flight that you're trying to change off of? If yes, continue to Question 2. If no, continue to answer 1.
Question 2: Are you within 24 hours of the first UA operated flight you're trying to change on to? If yes, continue to Answer 2. If no, continue to Answer 1.
Answer 1: No, you cannot call/go online yet to make an SDC.
Answer 2: Yes, then you can call/go online to make an SDC.

General Baseline Rules

These are the general rules that usually apply to SDC's; falling outside these rules usually requires payment of a full change fee and the fare difference:
  • Not available for Basic Economy (N class) tickets
  • The departure time of the first segment of the old itinerary and the departure time of the first segment of the new itinerary must both be within 24 hours of the moment that the change is made.
  • Only applies to UA/UX operated flights, domestic or international. Changing from a non-UA operated to UA operated may be possible.
  • Must 016 UA ticket stock
  • The ultimate origin and destination airports must remain the same.
  • Routing can be changed (addition, deletion, or change of connection points) but the routing rules of the original fare usually apply.
  • All remaining unflown segments in a single fared itinerary are considered together (i.e., if you're flying WWW-XXX-YYY-ZZZ, you can go to a kiosk at XXX and potentially fly XXX-AAA-ZZZ or XXX-ZZZ direct).
  • SDC can be done an unlimited number of times, and can, therefore, be used to extend a trip indefinitely (pending availability).
  • SDC costs $75 for Members and Silvers - the fee is waived for Golds and up (plus any applicable fare difference, see below). *G's may also get free SDC, although there is no mention of this in the official rules. Once in-route, fees for an earlier connecting flight may be waived per GG SDC Line 118.
  • Non-elites on the same PNR benefit from any waived fees for SDC.
  • No fare difference is charged so long as there is availability on all of the new segments in the originally ticketed fare class. Fare class availability in all classes often opens up after T-24 and almost always opens up at T-3 unless the plane is very full.
  • SDC on bulk tickets, including United Specials, is not permitted.
  • SDC is permitted on both domestic and international itineraries.

How to SDC

SDC can be accomplished in a few different places (in rough order of likelihood of being able to get the rules bent):
  • United mobile app
  • Kiosk
  • Phone
  • On united.com, right now only the "Search Other Flight Options" button during On-Line Check-In (OLCI) works. This has spotty availability, particularly if the change would involve paying an additional fare due to fare bucket non-availability.
  • Counter/Gate (although reports are that most airport agents are not familiar with the SDC policy and may not allow you to SDC to a valid itinerary--you can try to direct them to look up GG SDC, but they often won't understand that what you're trying to do is permitted by those rules)
Please note that the United.com “change flight” link before checking in within T-24, is broken. The website may not show all available options and will often attempt to collect the change fee rather than the SDC fee (if any).


NB: An SDC where the original itinerary (in one direction) has three or more segments cannot be done online.


Nuances and Loose Rules

Now for the hard part: figuring out where the flexibility is in the rules. This list is compiled from the responses to people saying "Can I do X?" where X is something that is not clearly permitted by the rules. One's likelihood of success here depends a bit on the method used for the SDC.

For each item, the following codes apply:
Y = officially permitted and possible using any method
A = not permitted but perhaps possible using an agent (phone/counter), perhaps having to HUACA
A* = mixed reports of success with an agent (phone/counter),
N* = possible only if you find a very accommodating agent
N = little or no reported success.
  • Violating various non-routing fare rules (day/time, minimum stay, etc.): Y
  • Change destination to ultra-close airport (see the old S*FAR/STANDBY): A
  • Change destination to a co-terminal: N*
  • Change destination to an entirely different place: N
  • Change itinerary at the beginning to include illegal layovers (> 4 hours): N*
  • Change itinerary at the layover point (using kiosk, app, or agent) to create an otherwise illegal layover: Y
  • Change itinerary at the beginning to add a layover point not permitted by the routing rules: N*
  • Change itinerary at a layover point to add another layover not permitted (either in terms of number of segments or routing rules) by the routing rules: Y
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours before or after the original flight: N*
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours before the original flight, if the previous day's flight has been delayed: Y (based on one report)
  • Change to a flight exactly 24 hours after the original flight, if the original flight has been delayed: Y (at least in the app)
  • Combining separately-fared segments to do SDC (e.g. XXX-YYY+YYY-ZZZ -> XXX-ZZZ): A
  • Change UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment to UA metal: A*
  • Change from UA metal to UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment: N (see post 1813 for one exception)
  • Change from UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment to a different UA-codeshare, non-UA-metal segment: ??
  • Change on a non-UA ticketed segment: N* (with potentially dire consequences)
  • Change from an upgraded flight into Y on the new flight: Y
  • Change from a GPU-upgraded flight into J/F on the new flight: A
  • Change from a CPU-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available R space on the new flight: N*
  • Change from an instrument-upgraded flight and get confirmed into available R space on the new flight: A*
  • Non-elite on different PNR benefiting from Elite's waived-fee SDC: A
  • Change at origin airport after tendering a checked bag: A - 60 minutes prior to both flights required
  • Change at layover airport when a bag has been checked: A - 60 minutes prior to both flights required
  • Change a bulk fare: A*
  • Stand-By to later flight, then SDC after original flight departs to flight within 24-hours of new Stand-By flight: Y

If you encounter issues with an agent (phone or counter/gate), you can ask the agent to reference GG SDC. Additionally, GG SDC line 61 specifically references that fare classes are supposed to level out 3.5 hours before departure, so you might be able to use that to your advantage if fare classes have not leveled out and you're trying to ask an agent to open up the correct inventory or force you onto the flight.

Note -- as of 11/27/2017: A datapoint indicates that UA may have updated its GG rule regarding leveling out to state the following:

Code:
EVERYDAY AWARD AND REVENUE BUCKETS ARE TO LEVEL OUT WITHIN 2H OF DEPARTURE
Standby
For fare classes other than Basic Economy (N class) you may stand by if seats are not available in the purchased fare class. In these cases, the same-day change fee will apply, but will not be charged unless you are assigned a seat on your alternate flight. Changes in routing are not allowed when standing by. Standby may be requested on the day of departure at an airport kiosk or with a United representative at the airport. Once you are added to the flight standby list, you can check your real-time standby status at united.com/flightstatus or on your mobile device at mobile.united.com/info.

Instead of paying a same-day change discounted fee, can I stand by for my desired flight for free?
No. The only time you may standby for free is when the fare does not have any penalties for making changes, or when standing by involuntarily due to a flight irregularity.

Can I pay the same-day change discount fee with cash?
Cash will only be accepted by a United airport representative when the change is available to be confirmed, not for standby travel.

Standby Nuances and Loose Rules

All nuances assume request is made within 24 hours of scheduled departure to a flight within 24 hours of the request.

For each item, the following codes apply:
Y = officially permitted and possible using any method
K = Perhaps not officially permitted, but kiosk will allow.
A = not permitted but perhaps possible using an agent (phone/counter), perhaps having to HUACA
A* = mixed reports of success with an agent (phone/counter),
N* = possible only if you find a very accommodating agent
N = little or no reported success.
  • To a flight the previous calendar day: A*/N*
  • To a flight after your ticketed flight, on the same calendar day: Y
  • To a flight the following calendar day: N*
  • Request Standby at an airport other than departure airport: ?
  • Make request calendar day before scheduled flight to flight same day as scheduled departure: K
original posting by mgcsinc, initiated by jackal

Mileage Credit after SDC

SDC is considered a voluntary change, so your credited PQM & PQS will be credited based on the route you actually fly. Your PQDs should not change and therefore for your RDMs will not change. Occasionally if you fly a fewer number of segments, your PQD will credit wrong, but a call to MPSC should correct that.

Previous threads:
UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki) {Archive}
UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions *now with WikiPost* {pre-2015 Archive}
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:10 am
  #1  
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UA Same-Day Travel Change (SDC) Fees/Questions (with Wiki)

Can I SDC to a connecting flight that a website "change flight" option does not offer? For background: website appears to offer only one, shortest?, connection through a given city. I would prefer a longer connection. My fare class is available on the intended flight? Is this something that is permitted?
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:14 am
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Originally Posted by br2k View Post
Can I SDC to a connecting flight that a website "change flight" option does not offer? For background: website appears to offer only one, shortest?, connection through a given city. I would prefer a longer connection. My fare class is available on the intended flight? Is this something that is permitted?
The simplest approach is to SDC twice.

Barring that, if the proposed itinerary is valid -- in that it doesn't create a stopover -- an agent should be able to do it. (Whether or not any particular agent will, on the other hand...) A stopover is created when a transfer exceeds 4 hours on a US/Canada itinerary or 24 hours otherwise, unless the target flight is the next flight to the destination (which wouldn't be the case here).
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:14 am
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Originally Posted by br2k View Post
Can I SDC to a connecting flight that a website "change flight" option does not offer? For background: website appears to offer only one, shortest?, connection through a given city. I would prefer a longer connection. My fare class is available on the intended flight? Is this something that is permitted?
What does the App show?
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:22 am
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So the longest connection in the US is 4 hours (I.e. on NRT-XXX-WAS)?

App shows only one shortest connection per any city combination (for all available XXX). Checking individual routes I see available fares in the same booking class on many flights.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:27 am
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Originally Posted by br2k View Post
So the longest connection in the US is 4 hours (I.e. on NRT-XXX-WAS)?

App shows only one shortest connection per any city combination (for all available XXX). Checking individual routes I see available fares in the same booking class on many flights.
Yes, the rule is domestic connections are limited to 4 hours. The App may disregard that restriction (and others). Whether you can get a phone agent to book it for you is YMMV but odds against.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:42 am
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Originally Posted by br2k View Post
So the longest connection in the US is 4 hours (I.e. on NRT-XXX-WAS)?
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Yes, the rule is domestic connections are limited to 4 hours. The App may disregard that restriction (and others). Whether you can get a phone agent to book it for you is YMMV but odds against.
Not quite. The rule is that transfers on domestic fare components are limited to 4 hours. Transfers on international fare components may be up to 24 hours. So, assuming that the NRT-WAS fare prices as a through fare -- almost always true, especially in the context of an SDC, presumably from the nonstop -- the 24-hour rule applies to embedded domestic transfers as well.

You can see this on matrix.itasoftware.com by specifying a high value for minconnect. For example, with minconnect 1080 (18 hours), I was able to generate an NRT-LAX-IAH-AUS itinerary with overnight stays at both LAX and IAH for the same fare as a "normal" transfer. (You do end up with extra TSA charges, but that's it).

I agree that agents may not see things this way when you try to SDC, but if you were pricing the fare from scratch, these are the rules that would apply.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 1:03 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Not quite. The rule is that transfers on domestic fare components are limited to 4 hours. Transfers on international fare components may be up to 24 hours. So, assuming that the NRT-WAS fare prices as a through fare -- almost always true, especially in the context of an SDC, presumably from the nonstop -- the 24-hour rule applies to embedded domestic transfers as well.
Ah yes, it's been a while you could piece together an award, I forgot about the exception on international itineraries.

I'm a little surprised the App isn't offering. It's usually very generous.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 9:02 am
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SDCs made in the app will maintain upgrades, unlike agents who can only change you onto the originally booked fare class (or push an upgrade if available as well)
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Old Aug 28, 18, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by erickliu View Post
SDCs made in the app will maintain upgrades, unlike agents who can only change you onto the originally booked fare class (or push an upgrade if available as well)
That is mostly false. Only those (Gold and lower) who get upgraded into "RN" or GS who get upgraded into "PN" will incorrectly keep the upgraded fare class. SDC is meant to put you back into your originally booked fare class without any upgrade applied. Once you are confirmed on the new flights you can re-apply for an upgrade if the correct class is open because waitlisting is not available within 24 hours. This means the first flight on your reservation has to be within 24 hours to SDC so you cannot waitlist for it (technically speaking, but some agents will find ways around that). If you have a connecting flight then the connection is beyond 24 hours so you could still waitlist for that.

And remember, "RN" is not meant to be SDC'able to "RN". It's a bug that United introduced once they started upgrading people to "RN" class. So basically Plats & 1Ks are screwed by this.

-RM
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Old Aug 28, 18, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by erickliu View Post
SDCs made in the app will maintain upgrades, unlike agents who can only change you onto the originally booked fare class (or push an upgrade if available as well)
This is only true for GS (and, Gold or Silver passengers that cleared into RN before checkin, but I'm confident that's an error and it could be removed at any point). Anyone else on an upgrade -- instrument-supported or CPU -- will wind up back in coach after an SDC.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
That is mostly false. Only those (Gold and lower) who get upgraded into "RN" or GS who get upgraded into "PN" will incorrectly keep the upgraded fare class.
And 1Ks on YBM fares (has been useful for me sometimes)

I'm skeptical even PN -> PN was intended, but at least that perk is applied to the top of the pyramid.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 9:59 pm
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post

And remember, "RN" is not meant to be SDC'able to "RN". It's a bug that United introduced once they started upgrading people to "RN" class. So basically Plats & 1Ks are screwed by this. And specifically how are 1K's and Plats harmed by this? Thanks

-RM
I'm a platinum and confused by what you're saying. Can you make it a little clearer for me I'm just not grasping. Are you saying if I got a CPU into RN I can't change that flight via SDC?
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Old Aug 28, 18, 10:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Flying Machine View Post
I'm a platinum and confused by what you're saying. Can you make it a little clearer for me I'm just not grasping. Are you saying if I got a CPU into RN I can't change that flight via SDC?
Plats and 1Ks don't clear into RN, they clear into R.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 11:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Flying Machine View Post
And specifically how are 1K's and Plats harmed by this? Thanks
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Plats and 1Ks don't clear into RN, they clear into R.
Right.

I think there was an error in the quoting with the original question, so I've pulled it out to answer it directly.

The short answer is that any ability to SDC and preserve a CPU will screw over Premiers on that flight unless UA is careful not to open RN space without clearing the upgrade list (hint: they're not). So, a 1K waiting for an upgrade that didn't clear at the window could get sniped by an SDC from a silver who was on some relatively empty flight and did clear.

Compound that with the fact that Plat and 1K don't clear into RN and so can't avail themselves of this privilege, and Gold and Silver do clear into RN and can, and you start to think it's an error, not a policy.
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Old Aug 28, 18, 11:48 pm
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Can I run through a similar situation and get some advice?
  1. If I have a GPU confirmed (cleared into R), and then I make a same day change to a flight which has R availability, will I automatically preserve the upgrade? Presumably I should do this by phone to ensure the intended result
  2. Does this answer change if the SDC is to a combination of flights, one of which has R space?
  3. If I SDC to a flight which has no R space, and the upgrade doesn't clear, will I get it back?
Looking at doing some combination of the above this weekend.
Thanks
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