Monarch collapse: What to do next as a passenger who booked with failed airline

The airline has gone into administration - here's what passengers should do next

Simon Calder
Travel correspondent
Monday 02 October 2017 11:56
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110,000 Monarch customers to be flown home after airline collapses

At 4am on 2 October 2017, Monarch Airlines went into administration, affecting over 850,000 passengers with bookings on the carrier. If you are one of them, this is the current state of affairs.

What's the latest news on Monarch?

Nearly 3,000 aviation professionals are contemplating the future now that the airline they worked so hard for has collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of passengers with advance bookings with Monarch are wondering what will become of their cash and their holidays. And tens of thousands of people currently abroad and holding Monarch tickets for flights home are anxiously waiting for news. They are in the strongest position, and can continue to enjoy their holidays as planned.

At an office block in Kingsway, central London, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is coordinating an airlift to repatriate the holidaymakers who were abroad when Monarch failed.

I'm on holiday with a Monarch flight booked to take me home. Will I be able to get back to the UK?

Yes, more or less — and even if you have not yet been contacted about your flight, don’t panic, and certainly don’t head for the airport ahead of time.

The CAA is matching as closely as possible the airline’s original schedule, with planes flown to Mediterranean holiday airports to bring people home close to the planned time.

You will probably get home on the right day, though it will definitely be on a different airline, possibly at a different time and — for a proportion of passengers — to a different airport. This is mainly because matching exactly the size of the Monarch fleet is tricky: the Qatar Airways planes being used for much of the airlift have fewer seats. If you arrive at Gatwick instead of Luton or Manchester rather than Leeds Bradford, then you will probably find a coach is laid on to take you to your final destination.

If I fly home on a different airline, will I have to pay again?

Not if you are travelling in the next two weeks. The CAA has said that everyone with a valid booking for a Monarch flight will be flown home free, even if they are flight-only passengers without an ATOL certificate. Just turn up with your passport and booking confirmation.

Do not go to the airport early unless you have been specifically told of a change in your flight time.

I have a package holiday booked which has Monarch flights. What will happen now?

You will not be flying with Monarch, but your holiday may be going ahead. If it was organised by a different tour operator, such as Thomson or Thomas Cook, then they are likely to source alternative flights to allow you to enjoy your holiday as planned, at no extra cost.

If your package holiday is with Monarch, then it will not be going ahead. You will need to reclaim the cost from the ATOL scheme, which is administered by the CAA.

But check if you have an ATOL certificate; many arrangements with online travel agents which appear to be packages may not be.

I have a flight-only ticket with Monarch. What happens now?

You will need to seek a refund, which will depend on how — and when — you booked it. If you bought a flight on or before 14 December 2016, then it is covered by an ATOL. If it was after that, as the vast majority were, then you will need to claim the money back through your card issuer.

For people who paid by credit card — which is a large proportion of passengers, because Monarch did not impose a surcharge — and for whom the total cost was £100 or more, it is a reasonably straightforward matter of claiming back the cash under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This legislation makes the card provider jointly liable with the airline to provide the service, and recouping the cash is a straightforward matter.

In other cases — paying by debit card, or where the flights are less than £100 — it is necessary to begin the procedure for a chargeback. This is not legal protection, but debit card brands such as Visa insist that their issuers offer it.

The first stage is to see if KPMG, the administrators, will be able to refund your cash; if this is not possible, you then ask your card provider. But it is likely to be a time-consuming process.

Can I reclaim the money for a hotel room or car hire booked separately?

It’s much trickier. First, see if you can cancel without penalty, as some providers will do. If they won’t, and you paid by a credit card, you may be able to make a case that these “consequential losses” arose from the non-performance of the contract. Debit card customers will not be able to do this. It may be that your travel insurance covers such cases, or may make an exception to their normal policy, but the chances are against it.

I still want my holiday but flight prices have now gone up. Can I claim the higher cost?

Again, it is possible that a Section 75 claim might be successful, but it could be difficult. There is some chance that other airlines will come in with “rescue fares” for Monarch holidaymakers, offering cheap flights, but none has come forward yet.

The best way to manage the situation is to think creatively. If you have booked to Faro in Portugal, consider travelling to Lisbon — a business city with more seats available — or Seville in Spain. For the Costas, Madrid is a good target — it has excellent high-speed links with coastal cities including Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga.

Where do I look for more information on Monarch?

monarch.caa.co.uk

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