Thats a load of BS! CO's current policy sates that you have one year from the date of issuance to reuse the ticket as long as you have cancelled the reservation prior to the time of departure.
According to the penalty rules for a CO
fare I checked at random, I found this:
ON/PRIOR TO TICKETED DEPARTURE TIME OF EACH
FLIGHT - CHANGES ARE PERMITTED - USD 100.00
CHANGE FEE APPLIES.
So it looks like you can change the ticket and reuse it prior to departure, minus a $100 change fee.
I do know that UAL will charge the change fee each time a ticket is changed - had it happen to me (almost) when I had to change an MCI
ticket outbound and return - As the agent was making the change and preparing to charge my card I happened to mention that it would have been cheaper for me just to buy a full fare ticket for less money than I have been charged for the original ticket and the first change fee and the change fee she was getting ready to assess. She stopped a minute, handed me my card back and said "You're right - it's pretty stupid" and made the change without charging me again.