Why it's no Longer Plane Sailing with Monarch to Murcia

Published on 4/13/2010 in Holidays in Spain

Whatever our feelings about the UK, most British expats travel there at least a couple of times a year. Which is why I'm surprised the economic situation has forced my favourite airline Monarch to dispense with their Murcia service.

I live roughly halfway between Alicante and Murcia airports and in recent years have built quite an affinity with the more relaxed atmosphere at San Javier.

Monarch AirlinesSo, as someone who travels to Manchester and back several times a year, I was disappointed to receive confirmation from Monarch that they have axed their Murcia flights, for the moment at least.

A spokesman told me: ''At the moment it does not look likely that we will resume flights into Murcia, as the bulk of the passenger traffic going into that region tends to prefer flying to Alicante, to which we operate daily scheduled flights from Luton, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.

''The economic situation forces us to be very forensic about the routes we operate, and the passenger loads we were seeing on the Murcia route just made it unviable at present.''

Since I refuse to be herded on to a Ryanair cattle truck from Murcia to Liverpool, it now looks as if I'm stuck with Alicante for this year at least. Complete with its long check-in queues, uncouth Benidorm package-holiday drunks, and stag and hen-party revellers.

Life just won't be the same without those traffic-free jaunts up and down the Torrevieja-San Javier stretch of the AP7, which must be the least cost-effective motorway in Spain. I reckon it also employs Europe's most under-used workforce - the toll-money collectors, who probably earn as much as they take some days.

I'm really going to miss those Murcia flights, despite its overzealous Spanish flight handlers, some of  whom, unlike their Alicante counterparts, seem to have honours degrees in hand-luggage nitpicking.

I'm well aware that, strictly speaking, passengers are only allowed to take one piece of hand luggage aboard (handbag included). But while my carry-on baggage is rarely weighed at Alicante, never mind my handbag being queried, some of the Murcia jobsworths seemed intent on screwing every last centimo out of mystified commuters.

Last time I travelled Monarch to Manchester from San Javier, my hand luggage was a few grammes over the 10-kilo allowance. I offered to transfer some contents into my handbag but was promptly told I couldn't take hand luggage AND a handbag. One or the other it had to be - so I had no option but to pay nearly 20 euros to put my little case in the hold.

From there, as Alice would say, things got curiouser and curiouser. When I went to the Servisair desk to pay the baggage excess fee, the female clerk assured me I could to take a 10-kilo bag PLUS my handbag aboard. Back to the check-in desk and Señor Jobsworth insisted: ''Absolutely not - Monarch's rules are ONE bag of up to 10 kilos.''

Cue animated telephone conversation between Señor J and Servisair girl. End product, a cop-out. ''You can ask Monarch when you get back to England but it is strictly one bag only,'' insisted Señor J.

I did ask Monarch - and they confirmed the one-bag rule. Which is as clear as mud when every airport seems to operate a different policy.

Last time I flew back to Spain from Manchester, for instance, I checked in online and arrived at the airport complete with a pre-printed boarding card. Since I was travelling with only hand luggage, I was herded straight through to security with no one showing the slightest interest in how much the bag weighed.

As for the handbag slung over my shoulder, it might as well have been invisible.

Yet for all the blurring of rules, to me Monarch have the edge on other airlines patrolling the skies between the UK and the Costas.

Every regular traveller seems to have a story of being ripped off by one company or other.  I won't go into details of my own experiences but let's just say that BMIbaby and Jet2.com have long since been crossed off my popularity list. (In the unlikely event that either airline cares to know why, my email address is at the end of this article). And when Ryanair started making noises about charging for using their loos in-flight, I decided they could bog off as well.

The problem this Grumpy Old Gran now has is that I am rapidly running out of options. Still, there's always the car, I suppose. Just wait till I start laying into those ferry services and French toll charges.

Written by: Donna Gee

About the author:

I am a semi-retired former Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror staff sub-editor and writer who now lives most of the time in Guardamar  on the Costa Blanca. If you would like professional content written for you by me then email me on Donna773@aol.com.

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david said:
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 @ 7:39 PM

Jet 2 from Manchester have always been reliable and relatively cheap ,usually £60 to £80 depending on the amount of baggage you carry, On line check-in is always easy ,The have given their commitment to Murcia. We will see!

Tom said:
Thursday, April 15, 2010 @ 6:47 PM

you should try living in Aberdeen!! Monarch pulled out to Malaga ages ago and globespan went belly up..only can fly from Edinburgh on Glasgow...Also i think I have been lucky with Ryanair..always on time and cheap....best yet..the wife & I 0.04 return Edinburgh to Malaga yes 4 pence..including everything

foxbat said:
Thursday, April 15, 2010 @ 1:58 PM

Fear not Donna; the post referred to was a near libelous attack on a well respected member of this forum. The post had absolutely nothing to do with the thread. I guess the post has been deleted...

Donna Gee said:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 @ 12:05 AM

''Wow John, off topic a bit there, sounds like you've been stung. oh well if it makes sure she doesn't sting anyone else then it's worth reading.''

I'm a little confused by the above comment from ''LazyBadger''. Apart from the fact there are no comments here from anyone called John, I am wondering who the ''she'' is. I do hope it's not me who is supposed to have stung you with this article.

LazyBadger said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 9:41 PM

Wow John, off topic a bit there, sounds like you've been stung. oh well if it makes sure she doesn't sting anyone else then it's worth reading.

Going back to the flights thing, we fly out of Bristol to Mucia with Easyjet and have always found them to be absolutely fine, the odd delay now and again but if you know the rules of the airline and you stick to them then I think you wont get any problems. For example if you watch the airline programmes on tv about Easyjet and believed everything you saw then Easyjet would not have any cusomers at all!
Same goes for Ryanair, if all the bad press was the same for everyone then they would not have any customers at all.

Just make sure you know all the rules before you turn up with an overweight suitcase, too big or too much hand luggage etc and you shouldn't go far wrong.

Also you have to remember that 25 years ago if you got a return journey from any airport in the UK to the the costa blanca for less than £200 in a peak time you were doing well, so nothing to complain about as we're paying less than that now even in the middle of August.

Pueblo Pedro said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 6:20 PM

At least you still have some kind of choice left.

When we bought a holiday home in Mojacar, our route from Dublin to Almeria was serviced by Aer Lingus, April to October. Then Ryanair announced a year round service. Good, we thought, they'll keep each other on their toes. Bad, Aer Lingus thought, promptly withdrawing from the route.

Ryanair have never provided the year round service, sticking with April to October, and they have now reduced it down to June to August. We never visit in those hot and crowded months but every flight we ever took was always full.

Now we will have to drive twice the distance from/to Murcia San Javier. Any tips for best car rental deals there?

Arry said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 4:42 PM

Why not give Jet 2 a try? Varies from 5 flights a week in winter to 7 in the spring/summer season.

dave baines said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 3:37 PM

Re Granada and Murcia disconinuation of flights I am amazed that the likes of Flybe have failed to seize an opportunity to take the slots.
I would think that a sensible pricing structure would prove to be a profitable venture for them with no competition.

Nick Burroughs said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 3:05 PM

Perhaps Monarch will come back when the new airport in Murcia is opened?

Graham said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 3:02 PM

Don't know what all the fuss is about....I use Ryanair from Liverpool to Murcia/Alicante all the time and have found it to be by far the cheapest and most reliable service available.

I live within 10 minutes of Mcr Airport but would much rather take a 35min journey to Liverpool to avoid all the hassle you get traveling from Ringway.

I have never paid more than £90 return to Murcia or Alicante and in most cases a hell of a lot less.

Yes, you get what you pay for and the seating arrangements are first come first served but I would recommend it to anybody who frequently travels to C/Blanca requiring a low frills cheap service!!

foxbat said:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 2:43 PM

To be perfectly honest, Monarch don't give a rats ass about their clients, the 'on aircraft' experience was always somewhat better than the other operators, but for the most part the management team is hopeless.
What they have done with Murcia is an exact repeat of what they did in Granada, again trotting out the same excuse about load factors. Granada always seemed to return load factors of better than 85% which should be enough to provide a continued service; however they were beaten to death by Ryanair demanding higher subsidies from the Airport and local authorities in return for more Ryanair destinations and when push came to shove there wasn't enough money in the pot to subsidise two grabbing airlines and Monarch pulled out. The sad thing is that now Ryan have milked Granada for every last centimo they too are pulling out, leaving Granada with no service to the UK at all.
If Monarch had sorted out their fares structure a little better there would have been no reason to pull out of either Murcia or Granada; on the last day of operation of the Granada-Gatwick service for instance, the fare from Gatwick was just £3 whereas the flight back was £278...says it all really. Utterly stupid. And definitely not in favour of the client, just the damn shareholders.


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