Continental/United (Partially) Align Standby Policy

United and Continental have made changes to their standby and same-day confirmed flight change policy that bring the two carriers closer to alignment.

Good news for Premier Executives--standby and even confirmed same-day changes are now free on United and Continental. Last year, UA begin charging Premier Execs, those who credit 50,000 or more elite qualifying miles each year to Mileage Plus, $50 to standby for an earlier flight or $75 for a confirmed change within three hours of their departing flight. Up until that point, standby was free for all elites although only Global Services and 1K members were exempt from the $75 confirmed same-day change fee.

Bad news for Mileage Plus Premiers and OnePass Silvers--your standby fee just went up from $50 to $75.

Note that the two airlines still do not have identical standby polices. Continental's policies remain a bit more generous: while UA only (technically) allows moves to earlier flights, Continental allows changes +/- 24 hours from your originally scheduled flight. Continental also explicitly allows changes to international flights while UA rules only allow changes on domestic flights and some flights to Canada. Lastly, UA (again technically--I have had luck getting agents to bend the rules) does not allow routing changes while CO does: as long as the new routing complies with the fare rules. May I suggest that booking a cheap ticket through EWR or IAH then changing your connection city to CLE might help your upgrade chances?

Here's a table summarizing the old and new standby fees on Continental (the new fee structure is identical to United's):

Tickets issued May 17, 2011 and beyond Tickets issued May 16, 2011 and prior
OnePass and Mileage Plus non – elite members $75 $50
OnePass Silver and Mileage Plus Premier elite members $75 $50
OnePass Gold and Mileage Plus Premier Executive elite members $0 $25
OnePass Platinum and Mileage Plus 1K elite members $0 $0

For more on Continental's same-day change policy, click here.

For more on United's same-day change policy, click here.


Sean May 18, 2011 at 02:20 pm

Was this there yesterday in their same day change rules?

"You may change your connection city only if requesting the change at the airport."

Seems like it would add a great deal of flexibility. You could opt to connect through anywhere.

@Sean: It should have been.

In regards to the routing changes, I don't think you'd be allowed to connect anywhere--you'd have to use valid routings which usually include only a single connection through a hub.

It's too bad: I'd love to fly from PHL to LAX via CLE-SEA-IAH-EWR-DEN-SFO-IAD-ORD! Or via GUM for that matter...

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