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How will I get home for Christmas?

Northampton student, Bruna Tomsic, describes her experience with Monarch Airlines and tries to find answers as to what will happen next…and will she be able to go home for Christmas?

Woke up last morning in a (surprisingly) sunny London, got ready for my work experience while ignoring the fact that it’s Monday, people’s least favourite weekday. Not for me, I think, refusing to let that mainstream spirit get me down.

Everything was pretty much usual, got out from the tube, grabbed a coffee (the best one I ever had!) and started scrolling through social media.

And oh wow, I couldn’t be more wrong about the course of my ‘good-feel’ Monday.

In seconds, my mood changed. Every single news outlet was updating stories about the closure of the Monarch Airlines, a low-budget company which I was travelling with several times, and never had any problems.

Unlike some other flight companies that I’ve been travelling with, I was lucky enough that my Monarch flights were never delayed, service was always up to standard and staff very friendly and helpful.

I was shocked. How come that something like that happened? But, more importantly, how will I go home for Christmas?

Yes, unfortunately, I am one of the 860,000 people affected. Amongst the ‘victims’ is my boyfriend as well, who bought the tickets to visit me in my home country, Croatia, so that we could spend New Year’s together.

I was trying to find out more about it, I didn’t even expect that something like this would ever happen.

Airbus_A321-231,_Monarch_Airlines_JP7651538As students who are still balancing uni with part-time work, it is really devastating to hear that we might not be eligible for a refund.

So, since I am studying Multimedia Journalism, my immediate reaction was to do more research about it. Maybe if you are reading this, it means that you are affected as well, and a bit confused. Just like I was!

Everyone wonders what to do next, how will those people return to their homes from holidays? How will everyone else who already booked their future flights/holidays be able to do that? Will they get a refund?

Does anyone else think something is really fishy here, and where did all that money go?

I contacted my bank as I’ve directly booked my flight through the Monarch website. Needless to say that I had to wait for half an hour because they were busy, a vast majority of people had the exact same problem. They sent me a link to fill out an online ‘goods not received’ form. I can’t find a link right now as I believe they will give you that individually after you contact them. Mine was for “flights only” but you could fill the holiday one as well.

I will have to wait for 5-7 days for them to review it. Even if it’s successful, I don’t know for how long will I actually have to wait to get my money back.

If you’ve booked your upcoming flights/holidays via a travel agent (meaning, not directly through Monarch’s website) you should try and call travel agents first. Prepare to wait and, even though this situation is so annoying, be patient.

The problem is that for example, I read in The Guardian that claims will only be refunded to those who have travel insurance because apparently Monarch was not ATOL protected? And to those who paid with credit cards, only if the amount was more than £100.

If this is true, then I hope all of you who are affected will complain because we as customers were tricked. I am guessing plenty of us who purchased ‘flights-only’ paid less than £100 for flights across Europe, just because Monarch is a low-budget airline and people choose it simply because it is way cheaper than others.

Another important point is that for example, I am an EU student and I was not eligible to have a credit card when I came to the UK for obvious reasons, so, the only way that I could pay for my flights was via debit card. To be more precise, my return flight without check-in luggage was £90.

As a student, that amount of money could get me a month of food shopping (based on my consuming).

So, what now? Do I really have to have my fingers crossed to get my refund claim approved?! I would advise everyone to fill out the form, regardless of the amount they paid for their holiday/flight. I found a very useful guide on Facebook, so check it out here, there is also an official Monarch help page so see if it’s of any use to you.

After all, customers are victims here. I really hope that all the affected Monarch staff (around 2,100 of them!) will be rewarded accordingly and find some alternative soon. I understand that it must be far more stressful for them and their families now than how it is for me.

When will all those families and friends who are currently stuck somewhere abroad return home?

Right now there are so many questions up in the air. And still no answers. Hopefully, things will be sorted, we just have to hope for the best. I mean, by “the best” I mean get our money back and book another flight/holiday before the prices go sky high. Don’t let this stop you!

Enjoy your upcoming holidays and goodbye Monarch, you will be missed…

Bruna

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