19 June 2015

What happens when you miss your Monarch flight

On 2nd June 2015, we missed our Monarch flight from Gatwick to Tenerife. We've never missed flights anywhere before and, with Monarch, it turns out to be a massively stressful and expensive thing to do. Here is what happened to us and why we were so cross about the situation.

How we missed the flight

OK. So we were late to the airport. Everything that could have gone wrong on the journey there did go wrong. Roadworks on the M3, a breakdown in our feeder lane on the motorway and a nightmare finding a space at the long stay car park.

But we got there in time and we managed to check onto the flight. We were flying with our 8 month old baby so we had quite a lot to check in including his buggy, car seat, his travel cot as well as all of our suitcases. We breathed a sigh of relief when we checked in as we thought, "we've made it". 

We then went through the airport as quickly as you can when carrying a baby. But I obviously couldn't run and we had bottles and food for the baby, all of which had to be checked and tested. We didn't stop to change the baby, we didn't get a drink or any food, we didn't even go to the toilet. We couldn't have gone any quicker than we did. 

Yet, when we got to the gate, we found that they'd closed the flight and taken our luggage off the flight. Our travel cot, car seat, buggy and suitcases were all sat on the Tarmac in the rain.

We were all pretty tired
when we finally caught
our Monarch flight
And, for the next 15 minutes we had to sit there and watch the plane not moving. We had to go back through immigration and then back to check in and only the stewardesses could take us through. It was 15 minutes until the plane even moved so we just had to sit there and look at it. But once your bags are off the flight, that is it apparently. 

To be fair to the stewardesses, they were really nice. And they kept telling us that Monarch are generally really good in situations like ours and let you transfer your ticket over to another flight. Well, that is not what happened. They were not good. We had to buy a new ticket based on the cost of the flight on the day, which was £1,014 single to Tenerife. They were "good" enough to include the cost of our original flight within that, but given we had booked months before, it was a drop in the ocean. 

How Monarch did not help the situation 

Now you could argue the situation was our fault for arriving at the airport late. And, while I take your point, here is what annoyed us:

  1. When we checked in, we weren't told that it'd be really tight for us to get to the gate on time. We weren't even told to rush. I asked how far it was to the gate and I was told that "it was pretty far". But we were not told that we had to really hurry and if we didn't, we wouldn't make the plane.
  2. Given that we were carrying a child, couldn't run and given how long it takes to get bottles etc through security, it would have been impossible for us to have got to the gate any faster. On that basis, we believe it was impossible for us to have made our flight. The Monarch staff should have known this and should either have not checked us into the flight or offered us some sort of assistance or advice for getting through security more quickly.
  3. After we arrived at the gate and were told we would not be allowed to board, it was a good 15 minutes before the plane moved. There would have been plenty of time for them to reload our bags and let us on the plane without delaying the flight. We were told that, once the bags have been been taken off the flight, they could not be reloaded. This seems like a ridiculous rule and one which neither of the air stewardesses could explain the rationale behind.
  4. The cost of the replacement flights was ludicrously expensive. We flew to Australia at Christmas for a similar sum. And, the flight wasn't even nearly full so those seats would have been empty on the flight anyway. It felt like the airline was profiting from our desperate situation.
  5. Our bags were clearly left on the runway for quite some time as they were utterly drenched when they were returned to us. Our son sleeps in a Sleepyhead Grande sleep pod which cost us £150. It was totally soaking and shrunk as a result and is therefore ruined.

View from our seats when we finally
caught our Monarch flight
Overall, it was an incredibly stressful day and one which was not helped by Monarch. We relayed the story (as you can imagine) to quite a few people over the next few days and no one could believe how uncaring Monarch were, especially as we were travelling with a baby.

We finally arrived at our destination at 9pm and we were all exhausted. An experience we hope never to repeat and I urge anyone reading this not to repeat!

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