Monarch Airlines has gone into administration and all its holidays and flights have been cancelled with immediate effect.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Department for Transport say they are now working to organise the return of 110,000 Monarch customers currently overseas, while up to 750,000 Monarch customers have had future bookings cancelled.
A dedicated website – monarch.caa.co.uk – has been set up for customers affected by the company's collapse and you can also call a 24-hour helpline – 0300 303 2800 from the UK and Ireland, +44 1753 330330 from overseas.
Monarch is the largest airline in the UK to ever go into administration and the CAA says it is dealing with an "unprecedented situation". Monarch had been given until Sunday evening to renew its ATOL licence which allows it to operate package holidays, but failed to do so.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis says if you've booked with Monarch and aren't covered by ATOL protection or your travel insurance, there are two key things to try – claiming from your credit card firm under Section 75, or via your credit or debit card provider on the chargeback scheme. See more from Martin below.
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I'm already abroad – can I continue my holiday and how will I get home?
If you're a Monarch customer already overseas, and due to come back on or before Sunday 15 October, the CAA has said it will ensure you get home at the end of your break. This applies whether you're on a package holiday OR have a flight-only booking.
- You'll be given a new flight as close as possible to your original booking. It won't cost you anything extra and the regulator says it will try to keep groups of travellers together.
- The regulator says details of your new flight will be available at least 48 hours before you're due to travel. These should be on the CAA's dedicated website – although so far there seems to be no information beyond today. The CAA says to keep checking as the website is continually updated.
- Once your flight home is confirmed, you'll need to go to the airport at least three hours before your new departure time. (Don't go to the airport unless your new flight is listed on the website or the lead passenger on the booking has received a text or email telling them to do so.) You'll have to check in at the airport. And you may be flown back to a different UK airport – if so, the CAA says it'll then get you back to the airport you were supposed to fly back to at no extra cost.
If you're ATOL-protected (so if you are on a Monarch package holiday, a package holiday with a different firm which includes Monarch flights or have a flight-only booking made on or before 14 December 2016 – ie, LAST YEAR), you may be able to reclaim expenses from the CAA as follows – make sure you keep the receipts:
- If your new flight is more than four hours later than the original... you can reclaim for refreshments.
- If your new flight is a day or more after the original... you can reclaim for refreshments and accommodation.
However, if you booked a package holiday with another travel agent, the CAA says you should first contact the agent to see what support it can give you before paying for your own accommodation etc.
Due to fly back on or after 16 October? Check if you're covered by ATOL
If you're currently overseas and your return flight isn't scheduled until Monday 16 October or later, what happens next depends on whether you have ATOL protection:
- If you do have ATOL protection, your return flight will be arranged at no extra cost. This should apply if you booked a Monarch holiday, or booked a flight on or before 14 December 2016 – you'll have been sent an ATOL certificate when you booked to confirm you're covered.
- If you don't have ATOL protection, you'll need to book your own flight home. The CAA has a list of airlines that fly similar routes. You'll then need to try to claim back under Section 75, chargeback or from your travel insurer – see more on this below.
If you're abroad on a Monarch package holiday, you CAN continue it
The CAA says it's contacting hotels to ensure you can remain in your accommodation – but it says you may be asked to make a further payment, in which case you should pay, keep a receipt showing a full breakdown of charges and claim back from the CAA when you're back in the UK.
I've booked a package holiday – what are my rights?
If you've booked a Monarch package holiday you will have ATOL protection, which means you should be able to get a full refund. What you need to do depends on how you booked:
- If you booked with Monarch Holidays... you'll need to claim via the CAA. It says it'll provide a claims form soon – we'll update our Monarch help guide as soon as it does – and you should be refunded "by the end of 2017 at the latest".
- If you booked a package holiday with another company which includes a Monarch flight... you will still have ATOL protection, which applies to ALL package holidays. But rather than waiting for the CAA's claims form, contact the company you booked with – it should offer you a refund or an alternative holiday.
While the ATOL scheme covers your package holiday, it won't cover anything you've booked separately, such as excursions or car hire. You'll need to see if you can claim these back via travel insurance, Section 75 or chargeback.
I've a flight-only booking – will I get a refund?
The first thing to check here is whether you've got ATOL protection. Most flight-only bookings DON'T have ATOL protection, but if you made the booking on or before 14 December 2016 (ie, LAST YEAR) it may do.
Don't have ATOL protection (most flight-only bookings)?
If you made a flight-only booking on or after 15 December 2016 (LAST YEAR), you won't have ATOL protection – in which case you WON'T be automatically refunded.
There are a few things you can try to get your cash back:
- Check your travel insurance. See if your policy covers the airline going into administration – though many insurers won't cover you unless you bought specific travel firm failure cover. See more on what major travel insurers are doing below.
- Paid on a credit card and your flight cost more than £100? Try Section 75. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay on your credit card for an individual flight costing more than £100, the card company's equally liable and you may be able to claim from it. See our Section 75 guide for more info and template letters.
- Flight less than £100 or paid on a debit card? Try chargeback. Unlike Section 75, the chargeback scheme isn't a legal requirement, it's just a customer service promise. But it's worth trying and when Lowcostholidays collapsed last year, we saw successful claims from people using this. You may be covered by the Visa, Mastercard or American Express protection schemes, and should be covered for the whole price of the flight. See our Chargeback guide for details of how to claim.
- Booked another way, such as PayPal? Check protection schemes. You may have some form of protection – we've contacted big schemes such as PayPal and will update our Monarch help guide as we know more.
In due course you should be able to register as an unsecured creditor with Monarch – we're waiting for details on how to do this and will update our Monarch help guide when we know more. Sadly, though, it's unlikely you'll have much luck via this route, as you'll join a list of firms trying to get cash back, and there's a strict hierarchy of how this is done. See our Administration Help guide for more info.
Do have ATOL protection (ie, made your booking on or before 14 December 2016)?
If you do have ATOL protection for your flight-only booking then you'll be able to claim a full refund – in most cases you'll need to apply to the CAA to get this. We'll update our Monarch help guide when it's given details of how to claim.
We've called round travel insurers today to find out if policyholders will be covered, for flight costs – if you're not covered by ATOL – or 'consequential losses', such as hotels or car hire you may have booked.
We've heard that some travel insurers are saying you must try to submit a claim to your bank first, even if you are covered under your policy – but you could try to argue the toss and say you expect your insurer to handle your claim regardless.
|Name of insurer||Flight costs||Consequential losses|
|Axa||Only if policy includes travel disruption or scheduled airline failure cover||Only if policy includes travel disruption or scheduled airline failure cover|
|Aviva||Waiting for response||Waiting for response|
|Churchill||Waiting for response||Waiting for response|
|Direct Line||Yes, covered by ALL policies||No|
|Holidaysafe||Only if policy includes travel firm/airline collapse cover||Only if policy includes travel firm/airline collapse cover|
|Leisure Guard||Only Premier and Premier Plus policies||Only Premier and Premier Plus policies|
|Liverpool Victoria||Only Premier policies||Only Premier policies|
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "If you're not covered by ATOL protection as your flight isn't part of a package holiday, and your travel insurance won't pay out as you don't have the rare 'travel abandonment' cover, there are two further helpful protections to try.
"The first is Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. That says if you pay for something – or even part-pay – on a credit card and it costs between £100 and £30,000, then the credit card company is jointly liable.
"In travel, it only works when you book direct, but that's fine for those who paid Monarch on a credit card, as long as the cost was over £100. So get in touch with the credit card firm and ask to make a 'Section 75' claim (and use the name) for any costs not received. There are templates for doing this on MoneySavingExpert.com.
"For all debit cards and credit cards you can use a less well-known protection called 'chargeback' (though with credit cards, if you paid over £100, Section 75 is better). With this, you ask your card provider to ask Monarch for your money back as you have not received the service.
"While it's not a legal protection like Section 75, this is a core protection in Visa, Mastercard and American Express rules and it can swiftly help people get their money back. In fact, it was this route which we suggested in the Lowcostholidays issue which got the most success."
'Working around the clock to bring everyone home'
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: "We know that Monarch's decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees.
"This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.
"We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task.
"The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home."