United Same-Day Change is Awesome (and Needed)

Of Delta’s many changes the past several years, the tightening of Same-Day Confirmed hit me perhaps the most. The old regime only required cabin of service to be available for domestic fights within 3 hours of departure. Now it is fare class up to 24 hours before original flight, and I have had very poor success getting that, and not had exceptions as a Diamond Medallion. My last revenue ticket the fare class never opened, and my last award ticket, well I was surprised that a flight was available at the low award level but unfortunately it was my same flight.

I have had a dalliance with United the past year, completing a 1k Challenge last summer to have that status through this year. I still am undecided about re-qualifying, and my business travel is way down, so I have not wracked up that many flights. Those flights I have had have mostly been grim. Generally the day of departure choice has been between flights delayed due to inbound aircraft or due to mechanical, or both.

Great that United has a flexible Same-Day Change policy to act even before IRROPS are official, the highlights:

  • Applies to all United operated flights, even international (ticket number must start with United’s 016)
  • Available for flights up to 24 hours before or after the original departure (and that clock resets with each change)
  • Same or lower fare class required (leading up to departure, United frequently opens up fare buckets to accommodate)
  • $75 fee waived for Gold and above
  • Can be done online in a quick process

All those times calling in to Delta to check availability and have tickets reissued flashed before my eyes the first time I did a United Same-Day Change online.

The online process is 2 steps:

  1. View the reservation within 24 hours of departure and select “Search Other Flight Options.”
  2. Choose from the options. Note that only flights within 24 hours of the time you check will display. For a flight after your original departure you need to check 24 hours before that flight. Availability is dynamic so check back later if needed.

United Same-Day Change 01

United Same-Day Change 02

In the example pictured I was flying SFO-EWR last Thursday. Nearly all flights were close to full. At 24 hours from my desired departure, my preferred flight did not show but a slightly earlier was available, so I snagged it as a backup. When I woke up the next morning my preferred flight was available. In the end, everything was delayed and they all got out about 1 am.

My business travel dilemma is that I can book Delta with much less flexibility but more reliability, or United and get the reverse. For this trip I knew my return would wildly vary due to changing client schedules so chose United and took flights with multiple backups and buffers that absorbed the inevitable delays.

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  • JEM

    That’s why for business trips I sometimes schedule Delta outbound and United return (my company uses an OTA that makes this easy). Get there on time, get home sometime (occasionally sooner…)

  • @JEM – I think I need to adopt the JEM approach.