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What is the Major Malfunction with “Southwest Vacations” (Apple Leisure Group)??

New Arrival

TL;DR version:

Due to accounting problems or lack of adequate business processes, Southwest Vacations (Apple Leisure Group) cancelled our entire vacation that was fully paid and never told us. We found out when trying to check in for our Southwest flights. It took me a nearly FIVE HOUR phone call to salvage the vacation, and it's not quite what we originally had booked.

 

Excruciating detail version:

The 3rd party company that runs “Southwest Vacations”, Apple Leisure Group, appears to have serious problems, based on my disastrous experience today, the recent posts I see here and what I see on Twitter. I don’t know if they are simply overwhelmed and can’t keep up or have problems with internal accounting/business processes, or both, but they are a train wreck at the moment. I just barely dodged a vacation nightmare today due to their corporate ineptitude (not sure what else to call it….)

 

This may be common knowledge to the SWA “Community”, but the REAL company behind “Southwest Vacations” is Apple Leisure Group, a company that runs “vacation” sites under many different brand names, including Southwest. If this interests you, you can take a gander at their “brand names” at https://www.appleleisuregroup.com/

 

I had booked a vacation for my family to Hawaii using Southwest Vacations earlier in 2020 (September 2020 departure). When it became apparent that the State of Hawaii was not going to change their 14-day COVID-19 quarantine requirement, I cancelled the trip in late August, and took advantage of the 25% bonus credit offer, leaving all our funds on “deposit” with Apple Leisure Group. I turned around a few days later and, using some of the credit balance we had with them, booked a trip to San Diego with airfare, hotel, and rental car. No problem there. I got my confirmation e-mail with all the details, and the “Southwest Vacations” customer service rep with whom I spoke said that everything was good, the credit had been applied, we still had some left over that would remain listed under our original confirmation code for future use, etc. E-mail confirmation was received with full details and all seemed well.

 

…until today (9/25) when I attempted to check-in for our departure flight. No go. Not found, error from the website and app. Called Southwest (the REAL Southwest) – “Sorry, no such reservation, you’ll have to call Southwest Vacations to see what happened”

 

An hour and fifteen minutes to get to talk to a Southwest Vacations/Apple Leisure Group customer service rep. I got a very nice man, Orsenis was his first name, but he told me the bad news. The reservation had been cancelled. At first I thought he meant the AIR reservation. Nope. EVERYTHING had been cancelled. How was this possible? I had MORE than the amount of the San Diego vacation as a credit with them! As best I can tell, the cost of the newly booked vacation was never paid from my “credit” balance I had with them. Since their (assumedly) automated system saw no payment against my reservation, it automatically cancelled the entire package. Oh, and it didn’t bother to notify me via e-mail or any other way – Just cancelled everything silently. Note to myself and others: check and recheck your reservation with both “Southwest Vacations” AND the other parties (hotels, rental car companies, etc.!)

 

Regrettably, Orsenis was clearly NOT empowered to handle this issue. Every single time he put me on hold, it was a 20-30 minute wait while he consulted with his colleagues or ran these issues past his team supervisor or whomever. It was truly mind boggling as my telephone call with him exceeded 2 hours, then 3, then 4, and then finally wrapped up after 4 hours, 41 minutes. Seriously. I think this was the longest phone call I had been on in my life, or close to it. Incredible, and not in a good way. I never, ever, EVER will book another vacation through Southwest Vacations or any other “brand” that Apple Leisure Group manages.

 

To make matters worse, BOTH of our flights were sold out now, since our reservations were all cancelled. We ended up with less time at our destinations and a very late at night arrival, which will result in us getting to the hotel at midnight or so, about 12 hours later than we had planned, and we will have to come home earlier than we had planned. Our original room type was also sold out and unavailable, so we had to book a different room type that is lower tier than the one we had originally. To be clear, “Southwest Vacations” is eating the significant price difference in the package, which is over $1,200 more when priced today, which I think anyone in our situation would expect them to do.

 

I am grateful to Orsenis, who was polite and friendly, but was clearly dealing with forces beyond his control.  I am not sure what is wrong with “Apple Leisure Group”, but they are doing no favors to Southwest’s brand identity or reputation. I don’t work in the travel industry, and I’m sure it’s a mess right now, but good grief, this vendor needs get their act together or be given the boot by Southwest Airlines.

4 REPLIES 4
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Re: What is the Major Malfunction with “Southwest Vacations” (Apple Leisure Group)??

Top Contributor

I'm sorry to hear of your experience with Southwest Vacations/Apple Leisure. After travel is complete I would contact them back and seek compensation for the inconvenience. How do I contact Southwest Vacations®? 

 

You could also share your feedback with southwest directly so they can document the issue on there side though one of these contact methods Contact Customer Relations 

 

I hope your still able to enjoy the trip with everything that has occurred pre departure. 

 

-Blake

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Re: What is the Major Malfunction with “Southwest Vacations” (Apple Leisure Group)??

Top Contributor

Regrettably lots f people have problems with Apple Leisure Group, and some come here to complain about it. The best you can do is escalate with the company as Blake suggested. If you are lucky enough to get anything, it will probably be some type of credit to use with them -- something that you  probably wouldm't  want to use anyway.

 

Other than that, you can review them on every social media site you can think of in order to help others  avoid the type of experience you went through.

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Re: What is the Major Malfunction with “Southwest Vacations” (Apple Leisure Group)??

Active Member

DFWskier got most of my points.  I've read so many threads and posts about the SW Travel issues that, even though I love SWA, this is their Achilles heel.  But on the side of SWA, it's an outside agency, not SWA.

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Re: What is the Major Malfunction with “Southwest Vacations” (Apple Leisure Group)??

Active Member

Given the nightmare that Apple Leisure Group clearly is, why does Southwest continue to let them use their name and continue to promote them? I know that the answer is money, but is it worth the ill will? Let alone the ethics of being partners with a company like this.