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Monarch Airlines Give Flying a Huge Dose of Reality TV

Posted July 17, 2008 by BookingBuddy

Monarch_airlines Fancy having Peter Andre as your pilot? Or what about Jordan ‘call me Katie’ Price as your flight attendant? Well, reality TV fans, this could be your day!

Airlines always aim to please, and this time, Monarch Airlines have gone one step further by inaugurating CelebAir, with 10 ‘celebrities’ being trained to do various jobs. Sounding like a mixture of Airline and Celebrity Big Brother, the as-yet-unnamed celebs will be put through their paces then voted out weekly.

A spokesman for ITV2, which will be screening the series, calls it ‘a huge reality event’ (presumably because flying in a celeb-less plane isn’t real enough). The channel also promises ‘a real plane, with real passengers with real holidays to go on’ but wisely decides not to mention the fact that the celebrities might be real C-list celebrities.

A huge pat on the back for Monarch though, for attempting to retrain celebrities with marketable skills to fall back on should that singing/football/page-three-girl career fail.


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A Monarch Airlines Nightmare

Flight ZB 626 Manchester – Lanzarote - 2/02/2010

Half an hour from arrival I wondered why I had for years preferred routes via Madrid to return home to the Canaries. This was a perfect flight, extra legroom seat, meal OK and professional staff – then, sadly it was problem time.
The pilot calmly announced that poor visibility would mean a trip around the island, getting us there 15 minutes late at 12.15 pm. No big deal, but I noticed sometime after a quarter past twelve that we had swerved away and heading for the adjoining island of Fuertaventura. A still calm voce from the cabin was heard again but with slightly more disturbing facts. The flaps had failed to open meaning, whilst the aircraft was ‘capable of landing without them - we needed a longer runway’ and that was to be found on the neighbouring island 15 minutes away. Then there was a ‘But.’ And the blood pressure went up. We were going to have a landing ‘faster than normal and the fire engines would be there ‘as a precaution.’ When he announced that we were to pay attention to instructions from the crew - it rang to me of something different, not experienced in 35 years of regular flying – an emergency landing. The cabin staff girls put on smiles a little exaggerated – I suspect that is practised in their training. The one who joined me in her jump seat in the emergency exit couldn’t smile for long. An eerie silence throughout the plane contrasted a previous holiday type buzz. Eyes were closed everywhere and hands squeezed together.
We hit the tarmac fast. How fast until later I did no realise. Brakes screamed and the aircraft went, at speed, what seemed an awful long way on the ground – overstepping what was clearly normally used tarmac - and into a section littered with debris. Debris which may have been small pebbles or house bricks, I don’t know – but the noise was frightening – with the sound of a machine gun attacking the underside of the plane. Brakes were rammed on and loud – but everyone wished and hoped they were good ones. We eventually stopped with fire engines on both sides chasing us. Thankfully they didn’t need their foam or water.
An apology from the pilot amongst a ripple of applause from all, told us we had landed at 170 knots – but the inconvenience suffered was better that ending up ‘in the sea’ he said ‘at Lanzarote.’ He then – or it may have been his co-pilot told me at the departure steps, whilst he proudly saw everyone off – that we had landed at 200 mph – against what would normally been 40-50 mph.
We all waited for some three hours in the transit terminal without news, and then suddenly the departure of the aircraft to Lanzarote was announced. I happened to know by talking Spanish to various airport staff that a local engineer had checked the aircraft flaps within 20 minutes of us arriving, and all appeared OK – a fact that supports what I think to be the next and most startling part of my tale.
We boarded and took off again – scheduled to arrive at Lanzarote within 15 minutes at about, I think 5.30pm. Over our intended destination island the now almost standardised tone of apology came over the loudspeaker and, guess what? Those flaps yet again, would not open – so we were going back to Fuertaventura. The pilot said he had done his best but apparently the fault had could not be not be simulated the tarmac after the first emergency landing, so the reason for the problem was not clear. He surmised that it might have been that the flaps worked on the ground but not with the full weight of people on board.
So what had been a novelty of a first time bullet-style landing was to be repeated.
The debris, the fire engines, closed eyes etc – but this time it was made worse by the incredible repetition of what should a once (or never) in a lifetime experience. So it was buses again to the terminal – and an indefinite wait for more instructions. The Monarch official again saw us off the plane – but with a glaze this time of embarrassment rather than pride.

Now, for question time – and I’d like a response please by someone in high authority at Monarch. The response if I get one, may deter me from doing what some contacts of mine who work in the aviation industry want me to do here in Spain – and that is file an official complaint to the Guardia Civil, who will alongside other authorities investigate possible negligence, unnecessary risks to passengers in an aircraft by irresponsible flying practices or inept technical services on the ground. Someone gave authority for that aircraft to take off again – only to endure a second emergency landing the same afternoon.

So, an aircraft is diverted and grounded due to an essential item mal-functioning.
The reason for flap failure is unknown and not discovered. A fact later admitted by the pilot to passengers. In non-airline speak - ‘an intermittent fault’.
The same aircraft takes off – the same happens and a further emergency landed is deployed – putting some 200 passengers again, in my opinion, at risk.
WHY SHOULD THIS BE ALLOWED? If a faulty aircraft does not have its fault diagnosed and remedied, should it not be immediately grounded? It’s OK driving off in a car that keeps packing up – but surely not a passenger airline!!

On a lesser note, yet still an important issue, can Monarch please explain why passengers who suffered a delay of his magnitude (original arrival time 12pm) were not offered free refreshments?
When I left this fracas at 6pm and continued my journey to Lanzarote by taxi and boat, no one, not even children had been offered as much as a glass of water. What happened after 6 pm I have no idea – maybe the nightmare continued until the following day.

It would be interesting to know if this aircraft – an Airbus 321 (registration G-OZBN) built in 1999, and flying, according to the Spanish press, since 17th December of that year, has had previous similar problems.

I’d be grateful if someone at Monarch could contact me with his or her comments.

K Simpson, Tias, Las Palmas

Posted on February 03, 2010 at 08:00 PM by K R Simpson

Over one year gone by and five letters to Monarch - no response and no interest from anyone. Maybe one day, the CEO of Monarch Tim Jeans will need a stairlift.

Posted on March 27, 2011 at 06:11 PM by Keith Simpsn MD Castle Stairlifts

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