Passengers stranded by Monarch Airlines’ shock administration have told of their relief as they returned home – many with only minor delays.
A huge repatriation effort is currently underway after the travel firm went bust cancelling the flights and holidays of 860,000 people.
But despite the mammoth task of bringing home 110,000 people – the biggest peacetime repatriation in history – passengers have been quick to praise the emergency response.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was asked by the Government to charter more than 30 aircraft to bring the passengers back to the UK, and some 11,000 were flown back yesterday (Mon).
Sharon Louise Hill, of Penistone , was of those affected and learned of the news as she was on her way to Alicante airport in Spain.
She said: “We’d only been in Alicante since Thursday for my husband’s 50th and were on the transfer bus back to the airport on Monday morning when we heard the news.
“People started talking about Monarch and flights being cancelled but we had no choice but to wait until we arrived at the airport to see what was happening. When we arrived we queued for about 40 minutes. When we got to the desk they just said we’d been given a new flight.
“It wasn’t chaos but it was very busy.
“The staff at the airport were fantastic and got us home with only a delay of 20 minutes.
“We were extremely lucky to still fly to Manchester, a lot of people on our flight had to get on coaches to Birmingham and Gatwick.”
Helen said: “It was a little chaotic at first as people didn’t know what was happening. But once I’d checked in, it all happened very fast. The plane was huge – an Airbus 330. When we landed we had to stay on the plane for around half an hour to fill in forms for the British Embassy because they paid for our flight home.”
And for those still enjoying the last of the winter sun they will be notified within 48 hours of their re-scheduled flights.
Ashley Steadman and his partner, from Paddock , are in Tenerife and have told how they were initially in limbo when they heard the Monarch announcement.
But after an anxious wait on Tuesday morning they found a new flight had been scheduled for them within a few hours of their previous departure time.
Ashley’s mum Susan told the Examiner: “They hadn’t had any information so they were in a bit of limbo. Their new flight is approximately two hours later in to Manchester.”
While those already abroad await news of alternative flights back to the UK, a further three quarters of a million people who held future bookings with the firm have had their travel plans thrown into disarray.
Sarah Stewart, of Batley , told how she was due to go on a package holiday, organised through travel agent On The Beach, to Tenerife on October 19.
She explained: “CAA advice was that all holidays booked with Monarch after October 2 are cancelled. On the Beach emailed me to say they would honour the hotel booking if I could re-arrange flights and they would pay £50 towards flight costs.
“They also gave me the option to email to cancel my booking with full repayment of the holiday, which cost £1,500, within 30 days. I have taken that option but my email, sent three times, has not been acknowledged.
“I’ve now booked another holiday and if all else fails, my travel insurance has confirmed they will cover the loss.”
Anyone who has been affected should check the dedicated Monarch website or contact their travel agent if booked with one.
They will be able to advise on whether a change to the holiday booking is necessary or if a refund or compensation will be offered.