Monarch (damn them) airlines

Budget airlines, does anyone like them? I don’t use them through choice, I often find I can get where I want to go cheaper with British Airways if I book early enough. That wasn’t an option this time because the holiday was a package deal, so it meant flying with the carrier specified by the package operator.

At least our flight wasn’t at some antisocial hour of the night, but it might as well have been. The flight was scheduled to take off at 0800hrs. This meant check-in time of 0600hrs, but, as budget airlines are known to overbook, we thought it wise to be early. So that’s 0500hrs, less the time to drive to Gatwick, park the car and get to the terminal. That’ll be 0400hrs then.

To leave at 0400 means getting up at 0300 – yes, I know it doesn’t take an hour to get out of the house, but I need my coffee and then there is the last minute panic and checking we’ve got the passports, the doors are locked, the gas is off, you know the kind of thing. So that’s an 0300hrs get-up for an 0800hrs flight. Not ideal, but at least we’ll be in Greece at a sensible time.

We checked in and were told that the flight would be delayed a short while. Delayed?! We’ve just got up an last-night o’clock, and we didn’t need to?! Lovely. Well, at least we were there. With time to kill we had some breakfast – we weren’t going to be fed on the plane for a while after all.

Keeping an eye on the screens we see that our flight is pushed back again. Then comes the announcement that, due to the length of the delay, we’re entitled to food vouchers. Yup, really useful when you’ve already spent money on breakfast.

It turns out that the delay was due to the crew having finished late the day before, and there being a minimum number of hours they must rest between shifts. Surely the airline knew what time the crew finished and how many hours they were required to rest, and therefore, could work out what time the flight would be able to leave? It’s not rocket surgery. Why couldn’t they have said when we checked in what the delay was going to be? OK, we couldn’t have got last night back, but it’s better to know what’s going on than to watch your delay increase when the delay is known to the airline from the outset. You sit there wondering how long you are going to be stuck at the airport and remember news footage of people sleeping on airport seats for days on end.

It certainly doesn’t endear the airline to it’s passengers.

The final length of the delay was three-and-a-half hours. Adding that to the time we got up, we could’ve stayed in bed until 0630, an almost sensible time to get up. Abstrads!

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