We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

Derby, England
posts: 4
reviews: 21
Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

Hi, we have booked a package holiday in July 2015 with Thomas Cook, the flight is with Monarch, which we were told after we had confirmed we wanted to book. We were told at the time of booking we could reserve seats on the flight a year before. We went into the store where we made the booking and were almost laughed at. I know it is very early but I have looked on line and seats are already being booked on our flight. I am desperate as we are a family of 6 and have 2 children with Autism and we need row 11+12 d,e +f. (things need to be so well planned for our children and anyone on the spectrum, my children keep checking the flight to see if 'their' seats are gone, it has caused no end of meltdowns, they have only ever flown in the same seats and can't cope with change)

Monarch called me after TC called them and I was told I can not book until the manifest is sent from TC which is anything between a week and 3 months before the flight. If I were to have booked direct with Monarch I would be able to book seats now.

I spoke to the manager at TC who said it is not his fault. I explained that there was a note on the booking stating at the time of booking they had called Monarch to pre book seats and were to call in a year before. I explained the anxiety this is causing but he said he can't do anything. I asked to change flights or even the whole holiday and book a TC flight which we could pre book now and he said it was a £50 per person per change charge. I told him we were very specific in needing to pre book but he just isn't interested. I am paying a lot of money for the holiday and can't risk us not getting 2 rows together. If I cancel now I lose £1,200 deposit which seems very unfair as we have been very specific about our families needs.

Does anyone have any experience of booking with TC and being put on a Monarch flight. Were you able to pre book your seats and if so how long before the flight?

Many thanks in advance.

23 replies to this topic
Loughborough...
posts: 1,482
1. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

I'm sorry. At this stage Monarch won't know you even exist, they'll just have a block booking from Thomas Cook for several dozen seats, and they won't get the passenger list (manifest) from Thomas Cook until around 2 weeks before departure, as you've been told.

Even if you were able to book these specific seats, there's absolutely no guarantee that the type of plane currently scheduled to fly the route will not have been changed for another in the next 11 months. On many types of plane row 12 is an exit row, and children are not supposed to occupy exit rows as they won't be able to operate the exit in an emergency. If this turns out to be the case the law requires you to be moved elsewhere on the plane.

Derby, England
posts: 4
reviews: 21
2. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

Thank you for your reply.

So the chances are there will not be 6 seats together, despite us saying so early on that they are required and being told by TC that it would be no problem. Yes I know row 11 is an exit row on the plane scheduled (I also know the plane could change) and as there are 6 of us only one of the seats needs to be occupied by an able bodied adult. Also my children are aged 12-17 so the rows we want are ok for us to occupy.

It appears that Monarch customers get priority over the reservations and TC customers get whats left. I totally understand how early it is and wish TC would have told us the correct information at the time of booking.

Loughborough...
posts: 1,482
3. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

"It appears that Monarch customers get priority over the reservations and TC customers get whats left. I totally understand how early it is and wish TC would have told us the correct information at the time of booking."

Yes, and the reverse happens when Monarch group companies sell holidays including seats on a Thomas Cook flight. It's bad customer service, but since all the package holiday companies do it the only way to avoid it is to avoid package holidays.

Scheduled service airlines often now sell what is in effect a package with flight, transfer, and hotel - the difference is at least for the flight portion you're dealing direct with the people providing it, and you're no worse off for the other elements.

From what you've said so far it looks like you've been dealing with a Thomas Cook travel shop - have you tried escalating this to Head Office?

Leyland, United...
Destination Expert
for Playa Blanca
posts: 20,219
reviews: 42
4. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

TC would usually send a manifest between 1 and 2 weeks prior to departure. The information about not being able to prebook seats is clear on both the tour operators and Thomas Cook Airlines website. It should also have come up on the system the agents use for booking. It wouldn't have given the option to prebook seats during the booking process.

It's always the same when a tour operator books seats on other than their own in house airline. The seats are usually block booked, so they are often in a block in one area of the aircraft. Even if you could prebook there are no guarantees you would get them because seat numbers are always subject to change. I think you need to explain to them the best you can that they are not 'their' seats.

Children under the age of 16 cannot sit in emergency exit seats.

Derby, England
posts: 4
reviews: 21
5. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

TC stated after we had agreed to go ahead with the booking that the seats were with Monarch, they knew our concerns regarding the seats being guaranteed together and called Monarch and spoke to Zoe there who said that the seats would be able to be booked a year in advance due to the access requirements, TC assured me that this would not be a problem so we went ahead with the booking. I went in store a year in advance and Monarch were called and we were told that we were given the wrong information and that in fact there is no chance of pre booking them. I spoke the the store manager at TC travel shop where we booked and he said it was not his problem but he would call Monarch who then called me back to explain basically that we were not allowed to pre book. I am going into the store tomorrow and if they are not able to book the seats, which I know they can't, then I want the booking changed without us being penalised as we were given false information at the time of booking.

We have been abroad 6 times with the children and always sat in these seats, to anyone who knows anything about Autism they will understand that change causes massive meltdowns, we did explain this to the store and that is why we book so far in advance. My children understand they are not 'their' seats but that will not stop them from having a meltdown. TC have been brilliant in the past and we have only ever used them and seat booking has been no problem. I didn't even know they booked seats on other companies planes. I know children under 16 can not sit in emergency exits there are 6 of us and 3 over 16.

Thank you for your replies, I think you have confirmed that we are going to have difficulty nearer the time and unless TC can sort something now we are going to have to change holiday. I do intend calling head office, I found their number (02075576400) which I will be calling after a visit to the store tomorrow.

Ayr, Scotland
posts: 1,688
reviews: 6
6. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

Andrea - just to say I hope you get things sorted out to your satisfaction. You did all the checking before booking and you have been let down. Good luck.

Amsterdam, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
posts: 23,533
reviews: 72
7. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

I think that the issue here is that you only went ahead with the booking on condition that you could pre-book these seats because of your specific requirements and you can prove that then really TC should be taking responsibility here. So do you have any proof that you specified needing these seats?

It's obvious that this is not Monarch's fault. IMO TC should waive the change fee or give you your deposit back especially since this booking does not take place until next Summer.

You say that they have been great in the past. Did you book this time with a different method, ie. a different TC shop for instance.

In addition to calling I would send a pleasant but firm e-mail to TC customer services outlining the great service you have had in the past from TC in relation to your children's autism but feel disappointed now. If you get no joy then escalate this via your local CAB. Depending on the proof you have this might also be something for the small claims court but of course that would be a last resort.

Good luck.

Leyland, United...
Destination Expert
for Playa Blanca
posts: 20,219
reviews: 42
8. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

<<TC stated after we had agreed to go ahead with the booking that the seats were with Monarch, they knew our concerns regarding the seats being guaranteed together and called Monarch and spoke to Zoe there who said that the seats would be able to be booked a year in advance due to the access requirements, TC assured me that this would not be a problem so we went ahead with the booking. I went in store a year in advance and Monarch were called and we were told that we were given the wrong information and that in fact there is no chance of pre booking them.>>

So it was Monarch that gave TC the wrong information?

As TC will have block booked seats they may not even have any exit/extra legroom seats on their allocation. I know when they block book it is often just a block of seats in one area of the aircraft. That way it is easier to keep people/families together.

London, United...
posts: 15,736
reviews: 23
9. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

>>So it was Monarch that gave TC the wrong information<<

Yes, but thomas cook should have known, this won't have been the first time they used monarch and the op is a thomas cook customer, so thomas cook, in my view are liable, whether they then take this up with monarch is thomas cooks decision. Personally I think some more staff training is required, how people on here know the set up between the two companies, but thomas cooks staff don't, is really not positive. This is block booking of seats and the thomas cook rep should have been aware of that. The seats the op wanted might not even be in that block booking and may never have been an option.

The monarch rep also got it wrong, she just gave generic customer info out. However the op was booking with thomas cook and that's where the liability to the op lies.

I do think thomas cook have a liability here. The wrong info was provided and the booking made on the basis of that info. They should sort it and cover the cost as a commitment was effectively made and not delivered.

Leyland, United...
Destination Expert
for Playa Blanca
posts: 20,219
reviews: 42
10. Re: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations

The agents in store are quite unlikely to know when manifests are sent. It's something that only happens when the route is on a different carrier and has nothing to do with them. If the operating airline says it can be done, why would they disagree? They haven't been using other carriers for long (since last year I think) and as the vast majority of their packages are still in house, they may not even have booked one previously that wasn't. That's not meant as an excuse, but it is a possibility.

I am surprised the information wasn't given to the OP earlier than she stated. Agent's usually go through all the details, including flight times, airline, accommodation, upgrades etc to check for any errors, before any payment is made. Also the airline and flight number would have been showing on the booking screen which the agent uses, and they usually turn the screen so customers can read and see what's going on through out the process.

I could say this is one of the perils of using a third party. If it had been booked online it is made very, very clear who the flight is with, on several occasions and it doesn't give the option to prebook seats, like the agents' systems don't.

This is something that needs to be sorted between TC and Monarch, and if the OP really wasn't aware of the carrier before paying it isn't right that she should lose out.

Even if they can sort out the preferred seats to be prebooked, there is no guarantee they will actually get them though.

Edited: 6:49 am, August 10, 2014
Reply to: Thomas Cook / Monarch seat reservations
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted