Monarch Airlines has become the largest UK airline to ever enter administration, in a move which leaves 110,000 customers stranded overseas and 300,000 future bookings cancelled.
All of Monarch’s future bookings, including flights and package holidays via its Monarch Airlines, Monarch Holidays, First Aviation, Avro, and Somewhere2stay brands, have now been cancelled.
The UK’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), says passengers should not go to the airport and should instead check its portal - monarch.caa.co.uk – for information.
Your rights depend on whether you’ve booked an ‘ATOL’ protected trip, and whether you booked directly with Monarch or via a third-party agent.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, adds: “We know that Monarch's decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.
“We urge people affected by the company's collapse to check our dedicated website monarch.caa.co.uk for advice and information on flights back to the UK. It also gives information to those passengers that have future bookings with Monarch but are yet to leave the UK.”
Here’s what you need to know.
I’m stranded overseas. What are my rights?
For passengers due to travel back to the UK on or before 15 October 2017:
If you’re stranded overseas and due to travel back to the UK on or before 15 October 2017, the CAA will organise you a flight home at no extra cost.
It says it is securing a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring 110,000 people back to the UK.
Customers shouldn’t go to the airport, they should instead check monarch.caa.co.uk for confirmation of their new flight details, which the CAA says will be available a minimum of 48 hours before your original Monarch flight time.
You won’t be able to request to fly back to the UK earlier than the date of your original flight with Monarch. The CAA says the “vast majority” of customers' new flights will be at the same time or later than their original booking.
Once your new flight details have been confirmed online, the CAA recommends passengers aim to arrive at check-in three hours in advance of their new flight time as check-in is likely to take longer than normal.
In some cases, your return flight may be to a different airport but in this instance, you will be provided with transport to your original airport at no extra charge.
If you have to pay for additional costs, for example another night in the hotel, your rights depend on the type of holiday you booked. Flight-only passengers with ATOL protection can claim back ‘reasonable’ costs from the CAA or from their travel operator if they booked an ATOL protected trip through a travel company or agent, which is not part of Monarch. Ensure you keep any receipts.
If your holiday isn’t ATOL protected – and this is likely to be the case for the majority of bookings, according to the CAA, you’re not entitled to claim additional expenses incurred. In this instance, you should try to claim from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the flights cost over £100 and you paid on credit card or under Chargeback if your flights cost less than £100 or you paid by debit card. You may also be covered by your travel insurance so check this too.
If you booked a Monarch Holidays package trip, the CAA will organise for you to remain in your accommodation at no extra cost. If you’re required to make an additional payment to the hotel, pay it and ask for a receipt, which you can then use to reclaim expenses from the CAA.
For passengers due to travel back to the UK after 15 October 2017:
Passengers due to travel back to the UK after 15 October 2017 will not automatically have their flights rebooked unless their trip was ATOL protected.
If your flight was ATOL protected and you booked directly from Monarch Holidays or First Aviation, the CAA will contact you by text, e-mail or via your travel agent to arrange a flight home at no extra cost.
If your flight was ATOL protected but you booked with another travel company, it’s responsible for arranging a new flight or providing you with a refund – so contact it in the first instance.
If you are not ATOL protected and you are due to travel to the UK on or after 16 October 2017, you will need to make your own arrangements to return to the UK. In this instance, you may be able to recoup costs from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the flights cost over £100 and you paid on credit card or under Chargeback if your flights cost less than £100 or you paid by debit card. You may also be covered by your travel insurance so check this too.
I have a future booking and haven’t travelled yet. What are my rights?
For passengers with flight-only bookings made on or before 14 December 2016 directly with Monarch Airlines:
If your flight was booked with Monarch Airlines on or before 14 December 2016 and you received an ATOL Certificate stating that your flight is protected with First Aviation, you are ATOL protected. In this instance, the CAA is planning for refunds to be made and will provide more information on how you should claim “shortly”.
For passengers with flight-only bookings made from 15 December 2016 onwards directly with Monarch Airlines:
Customers with these bookings are not ATOL protected and are not entitled to make a claim to the CAA. In this instance, you may be able to recoup costs from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the flights cost over £100 and you paid on credit card or under Chargeback if your flights cost less than £100 or you paid by debit card. You may also be covered by your travel insurance so check this too.
For passengers with holidays booked directly with Monarch Holidays:
Customers booked directly with Monarch Holidays are ATOL protected and will have received an ATOL Certificate when they made their booking.
The CAA will refund these bookings “by the end of 2017 at the latest”. It will provide more information on how you should claim “shortly”.
For passengers with Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays booked through another travel company or travel agent:
If you booked a flight or holiday with another travel company or travel agent you should contact them directly about your arrangements.
What is ATOL?
ATOL – the Air Travel Organiser's Licence – is the UK's holiday financial protection scheme.
If your flight or holiday is ATOL protected, you should have received an ATOL Certificate as soon as you made any payment towards the booking, either by e-mail or by post.
See the CAA website for more information on how to check if your trip is ATOL protected.
I've triple checked the legals of this with the Financial Ombudsman Service and I'm afraid that you won't be able to claim under Section 75.
This is because in order to submit a Section 75 claim, the card you used to purchase the goods/services has to be from a UK-based company as Section 75 is a UK law.
There may well be a Spanish version of Section 75 that you can claim under but this is something you would need to investigate as we don't cover legislation outside of the UK.
Best of luck,
Customers who booked flight-only directly with Monarch on or before 16 December 2016 should have ATOL protection - this certificate would have been sent via email or post. Is it possible it could have gone into your junk folder? It's worth digging through your email and booking reference documentation to check.
If you still can't find it, I'd suggest ringing the CAA on the following number and asking for its advice: 0300 303 2800. The CAA says it will send claims forms to ATOL protected customers by 11 October 2017 using the contact information on the booking.
If you booked your flights via a third party travel agent or tour operator - ring them to find out if you had ATOL protection.
If it turns out you don't have ATOL protection, check your travel insurance to see if it will pay out for airline failure.
Re. PayPal's 180 day limit to raise a dispute, it may be worth raising a complaint anyway if you can and arguing that while it has been over 180 days since you made the payment, you're still within 180 days of receiving the service - there are no guarantees but it's worth a try.