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Southwest Vacations Hassle

Posted by thetraveldoctor on March 9, 2010


Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Just returned from a very cold trip to Orlando Florida. My wife and I took a Southwest Vacations package to Orlando at the Doubletree Universal. I love to fly Southwest Airlines as their crew, planes and gate areas are the best in the business.

I decided to use Southwest Vacations because the package of Hotel, Car and Flight were much less expensive then booking each component separately. I knew that something was not right when I tried to lookup my flight to put my rapid reward number in the record and the Southwest website told me it could not find my reservation. Now to be fair to Southwest Airlines, Southwest Vacations is run by the Mark Travel Corp, which owns Funjet Vacations and a number of other airline tour companies. The big problem is that Southwest Vacations issues paper tickets. I cannot tell you the last time I used a paper ticket on a domestic flight. Paper tickets are a hassle and they can be lost or stolen. Well, what Southwest Vacations does not tell you is that you cannot check in on line ahead of time, you can only get a “Security Document” that will get you through the security checkpoint, but you still have to stand in line to get a boarding pass. Plus, you cannot get this Security Document on the Southwest Airlines website, you have to go to the Southwest Vacations website, which is a completely different website. So once I figured this out, I tried to check in, as the website said, “Check in Online” which is really not correct. After jumping through a number of hoops, I was able to print out the “Security Documents”. It was a real hassle at Midway Airport in Chicago, but we got to the gate and I was able to stand in line and get a real boarding pass. The disaster was on the return trip.

It’s January 3, 2010 at 500AM. My wife and I had a 735AM Southwest flight from Orlando to Chicago Midway. I could not check in on line at my Orlando hotel because as you read earlier in this store, you can’t do that with paper tickets. We walk into the front door of the Orlando airport and look over at the Southwest Check In. To our surprise, there is a line that looks to be at least an hour and a half. Now we had only carry on luggage, so I asked the Southwest agent if we had to stand in line, she told me “know, just go to the self serve kiosk and check in. Well, you guessed it, it would not let me check in. So I ask the Southwest agent for help. She came over to the kiosk and tried 3 times to check us in. It just would not work. She said to me, “Why don’t you go out to the skycap and let him check you in.” I said “That is a great idea, thank you!” So I went outside to the skycap station. Well, there was a line there too, albeit a much shorter line (15 min instead of 1.5 hours) and the skycap then checked me in and we were on our way to the gate. Getting to the gate was a whole other story, as Orlando shut down the screening area for about 45 minutes but I will not bore you with the details. We did get home on our scheduled flight. I still love Southwest, but the vacation division has to allow the issue of etickets so passengers don’t run into the kind of problems we had.

Thinking of a cruise? Read my blog post on the new Oasis of The Seas at http://thetraveldoctor.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/oasis-of-the-seas-makes-some-last-minute-changes/

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8 Responses to “Southwest Vacations Hassle”

  1. Sie said

    I just returned from a southwest vacation pkg to Vegas. I love the airlines, but hate the vacation arrangements. Everything about it was a huge inconvencience, very difficult to figure out and to follow directions. Southwest knows how to run an airlines, they do not know the proper organiztion to outsource their vcation business. I will avoid using it in the futre.

  2. Vacations said

    Travel with kids, travel prepared It is good to have your kids with you when you travel; this would surely open their eyes to a lot more of new knowledge and discovery. When you bring along your kids in your trips, this is not only a way of bringing them close to your heart but also through this, your child would definitely make him or her more aware about the world around him or her. Well, when kids are with you, you need to be more prepared because as we all know they have special needs and we have to respond to such needs. With the tips provided below, it would surely help you get yourself prepared for the entire travel. You have to bring with you some of the most useful things you could carry with you as you travel and as you reach destinations: • Band-Aids • antiseptic hand gel • small tissue packs • sun screen • Dr.’s phone numbers • Tylenol – children’s & adults • a rubber door stop can provide extra security for a hotel room door • small plug in nightlight – to help find the bathroom in the middle of the night * These things re for the activities you could have together in order not get bored and to get their attention fully • Crayons • mechanical pencils • highlighter – good for word search games • paper • deck of cards • zip lock bags (collecting shells, storing food, wet clothes) * These are other things for travel uses: • sun glasses • hats/visors • light weight wind breaker • umbrella • camera with extra film • keep a photo of your child in your wallet – incase you loose them in a crowed area • extra copy of birth certificates, photo id, travel reservations, airline tickets With these pointers in mind, you would not surely miss the thrill and the fun, you would also be able to good at preparing for traveling like from the simple trips to those that require loads of planning.

  3. Dad said

    THANK YOU for the information about the security document / paper tickets hassle with Southwest Vacations. I was thinking about using this for my wife
    ‘s upcoming trip but will now AVOID Southwest Vacations until they get better integrated with Southwest Airline’s outstanding system.

  4. PReign said

    The outdated use of paper tickets is still the case, but the ability to check-in online has been available since mid-2009 with Southwest Vacations.

    • thetraveldoctor said

      Sorry to tell you that the actual on line checkin is NOT AVAILABLE for Southwest Vacations. The on-Line checkin that is available is only a security document and you must get a real boarding pass at the gate or the ticket counter. If it was the case as you stated, then I would not have had the problem I had and would not have received an apology letter from Southwest Vacations. Trust me, I have had a long discussion with the Mark Travel Company that handles the Southwest Vacation Brand. They still issue paper tickets and there has been no change to that policy during 2010. I have been in the Travel Industry for over 39 years and I tell it like it is and this is the way it is. There is no true online checking for Southwest Vacations at this time.

  5. lately we found that it is harder to find unique self-experienced traveling posting on the web such as your posts.

    Thank for share your travel experience. Have a nice day

  6. JA said

    This how now changed. I was able to check in today with my Southwest Vacations Airline Confirmation Number and the Security Document clearly has my Boarding Group and Position, just like on any Southwest flight. I still have to get my Boarding Pass tomorrow, but my place in line is reserved.

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