United Same-Day Change Just Got More Appealing for Elites

Feb 19, 2019

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Update: Unfortunately United is no longer offering the ability to maintain an upgrade when utilizing same-day change.

One of my absolute favorite benefits of being a United elite is the ability to move to an earlier or later flight for free within 24 hours of departure. The carrier’s same-day change benefit isn’t quite as straightforward as that offered by JetBlue, which lets you move to a new flight between the same city pairs for $75 without fare class restrictions (and is free for Mosaic elites), but United’s is still easy enough to use, assuming the following conditions are met:

  • The ticket must be issued by United (i.e. the ticket number must begin with 016)
  • The itinerary must be operated by United or United Express
  • Your original fare class must be available (or you can pay a difference in fare)
  • You must travel between the same airports originally booked
  • You must complete changes 60+ minutes before departure when traveling with checked bags

United same-day flight changes cost $75 for general members and Silver elites, but that fee is waived entirely for Gold members and above.

There had been one big caveat, however, that specifically affected most United elites. While Global Services members, who clear in the “PN” upgrade fare bucket, were able to keep their upgrades when moving from one flight to another — as long as “PN” was open on the new flight, of course — Premier 1K members and below would always have to settle for economy, regardless of whether “PZ” inventory was available.

Well, I happened to point out this discrepancy when meeting with United’s app team last month, and to their credit, the airline’s IT department actually acted on the tip and got it fixed! Now, all United flyers should be able to keep their confirmed upgrades — if you clear into “PZ’ class with miles, a certificate or via a complimentary upgrade, you should be able to keep your first or business-class seat when moving to a new flight using the same-day change feature online or via the app.

Of course, there is one downside to this change. Flyers who are waitlisted for an upgrade may end up missing out on a bump to first class if a flyer with a previously confirmed upgrade moves to their flight. Ideally, that traveler would have landed higher on the waitlist either way, but with some flights offering more inventory than others, that isn’t always going to be the case.

Featured image of a United Boeing 737 Max 9 by Zach Honig/TPG

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