I mentioned in a recent Mileage Run Opportunity post that I frequently take advantage of United’s same-day change options to ward off tight connections at downline airports. I normally like to buffer in more than an hour on complex routings, but sometimes to get the best fare, a tight connection is all that’s available at the time of booking.
During the next several weeks, I have many itineraries with three segments on a single day and since I haven’t needed a same-day change in a while, I had to refresh myself with United’s policies. Here’s the official page detailing the process.
Confirmed same-day change:
If an H-class (or higher) seat is available on an earlier flight that departs within the next three hours, you may confirm a seat on that flight. It needs to be an identical routing if traveling nonstop to your destination, or if a connection is involved, you can change the connection city.
I’ve always done this via phone or at the airport, but the option is also available online within your reservation by using the “Change reservation” link. Just make sure you haven’t checked-in yet, and if you have, cancel your check-in and then return to the reservation to process the change. One caveat is for changing connection cities… that can only be done at the airport.
I generally use United’s Expert Mode availability to see the fare buckets online, or if I’m at the airport, I’ll use the mobile version of ExpertFlyer. Here’s the current fee structure based on Mileage Plus or OnePass status:
If the flight on which you wish to change isn’t available, standby is always an option, particularly if you’re confirmed on a much later flight in the day and the three-hour restriction doesn’t fit your schedule.
Unconfirmed same-day standby:
You can be added to the standby list on any earlier flight on the same day of travel on an identical routing. Unlike the confirmed same-day change that is valid only on flights within the U.S., the standby option includes flights to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Canada.
Standby requests can be done online or at the airport with an agent or at a kiosk. The same fee schedule applies as the confirmed change option.
Keep these benefits in mind whether mileage running or not – they come in very handy and both have enabled me to maintain the integrity of my itineraries. Also, I’ve been able to confirm a change onto a flight later than the three-hour restriction, but your mileage may vary, as always. It never hurts to ask, particularly at the airport.