Monarch is Britain’s oldest surviving flag carrier. Two years ago it teetered on the brink, but after being bought by Greybull in October 2014, hours before its aviation licence was due to expire, it has enjoyed a swift turnaround. With the airline back in the pink, Director reviewed an early-morning flight from Gatwick to Alicante…
I had been checked in online as I was part of a group, and arrived at the desk at Gatwick South terminal at 4.35am for a 6.20am flight. My bag was dropped off and boarding card collected in straightforward fashion – there were no queues at either the Priority Vantage desk or the standard check-in.
As a no-frills airline, the basic ticket is just that – you get an allocated seat but extras such as hold luggage (basic 20kg with extra add-ons available) and extra leg-room can be purchased.
Security was a five-minute walk from check-in; queues were small and efficiently processed, and I was replacing my shoes and buckling up my belt within seven minutes. 9/10
It took eight minutes to walk to the gate. The wooden seating at the departure gate was uncomfortable, but luckily boarding was swift and organised, with none of the herding towards the gate often associated with budget airlines. 8/10
The seat was comfortable but then I had taken the extra legroom upgrade, adding 15 per cent to the standard 28-29in pitch. 8/10
Monarch in-flight experience
The cabin crew were friendly and helpful, and the in-flight service was efficient, despite the time-consuming factor of customers having to pay for food and drink. My upgrade included a drink – the cabin staff already had a record of this, which avoided the typically British embarrassment of having to check if it was free before requesting it. Tannoy announcements weren’t that audible – but this at least made them less intrusive. 8/10
The flight took off five minutes late but easily made that up and landed on time. Negotiating passport control and terminal was straightforward. 9/10
Undoubtedly a no-frills experience but definitely a cut above most of the other budget airlines. When it comes to combining efficiency and economy, Monarch does the job in right royal fashion. 42/50
Monarch – LGW to Alicante
Flight ZB262 – LGW to Alicante 0620 (Airbus 321)
Monarch flies two to three flights daily from London Gatwick to Alicante. Prices start from £41 one way.