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Unhappy holiday complaints

Airlines and agents unhelpful to stranded Sharm passengers – but still offer cheap deals

Head of International Travel Law Nick Harris

Dated: 9th November 2015

A major airline and its agents have been criticised for not co-operating with stranded passengers following the recent Russian plane disaster over Sinai.

Holiday suitcases

Holidaymakers grounded in Egypt claim details provided by Monarch Airlines and Travel Republic of their return to the UK have been unhelpful, despite news that carriers and operators are offering low-cost late deals to Sharm el-Sheikh.

Following the Russian air crash, in which 224 passengers died, the UK Government stopped all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh. An onboard bomb is believed to have brought down the Airbus A321-200.

One Manchester woman stuck in Sharm since the end of October said she had been "hounding" the travel firms for help.

"Monarch are saying call Travel Republic for updates, Travel Republic are saying to speak to Monarch - they are both telling me completely different stories.

"Total lack of communication" from airline and agent

"It is costing us a fortune, they are asking for us to pay everything up front. There is a total lack of communication, they are global companies they should have the infrastructure to deal with this."

Monarch told the holidaymaker that she would be unable to return home until Thursday 12 November. But her frustration grew when she discovered that the carrier was still taking website bookings for earlier dates.

Plane takeoff as Holidaymakers stranded in Sharm el Sheikh

Flights must remain available online, says Monarch

According to Monarch, its booking procedure can only work properly if flights remain available online.

"Monarch, like every other airline and tour operator, are doing their utmost to keep the customers as informed as possible and as quickly as possible given the restrictions that are in place," a spokesperson said.

Stressing that its priority is the safety of Britons stranded in Egypt, the Government said it is important that people remain where they are until their operator or airline can confirm their flight home.

We understand that tour operators and airlines are working to ensure that where people need to extend their stay at their resort necessary costs will be covered.

Foreign Office spokesperson

"They [need to] follow their airline's advice on the appropriate arrival time at the airport. The additional security measures we have put in place have led to delays to flights, and we understand the frustration that has caused."

Agent claims it relies on airlines for information

Travel Republic said its agent status means it is reliant on carriers and hoteliers for accurate information. "During the current situation in Sharm el-Sheikh, circumstance and communication has differed by airline and we have therefore dealt with bookings on a case by case basis."

Cheap deals available regardless of problems

Despite 15,000 inconvenienced British passengers wondering how and when they will get home, some airlines and agents are offering last-minute low-cost flights and discounted holidays to the resort.

Monarch intends to recommence its flights on 13 November, with some tickets between Gatwick and Sharm el-Sheikh available for £139.

Situation is "perverse" says Harris

"Thomas Cook and Thomson say they have package deals from 14 November, with an all-inclusive week available from Thomas Cook at a 49% discount," noted Nick Harris, a specialist in travel law with Simpson Millar LLP.

"But anybody who's persuaded by these late deals could arrive at Sharm el-Sheikh at precisely the same time thousands of Britons are desperate to get home.

"It's a perverse situation that reflects the broad lack of support for ordinary holidaymakers who deserve much better."