Monarch Blog Monarch Airlines Official Blog Tue, 24 May 2016 15:04:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Planned French strike Tue, 24 May 2016 15:00:23 +0000 (Luton, UK – 24 May 2016) Monarch is aware of the planned strike in France that will affect Air Traffic Control, due to take place on Thursday 26th May.

Whilst we anticipate that there may be a disruption, we plan to operate a full schedule and would like to advise customers to check-in online where they can or arrive at the airport in plenty of time to check in for your flights. Airport check-in opens three hours before departure and closes 45 minutes before departure.

Please monitor this page for further updates.

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June sunshine from £192 per person with Monarch Holidays Tue, 24 May 2016 12:00:44 +0000 Having been teased with warm weather recently why not book a June break for guaranteed summer sun. Monarch has sun holiday packages with some excellent prices to be found with deals to Turkey, Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands. Seven night breaks start at just £192 per person.

Flight and holiday offers

Following the increasingly popular trend of adult colouring in, Monarch is inspiring customers to add ‘colour’ to their summer this year with the ‘colour your summer’ campaign.

There are over 3,000 seats at £35 to Barcelona and Venice.

Click here for more information.

June holidays

Ibiza – Balearics Islands from £192 pp – Depart Manchester on 10 June for a seven night stay at the three diamond rated THB Ibiza Mar. Priced from £192 per person includes return flights and seven nights self-catering accommodation based on four adults sharing a one bedroom apartment. Click here for details or call 0333 777 4740.

Gran Canaria – Canary Islands from £262 pp – Depart Manchester on 8 June for a seven night stay at the four diamond rated Castillo del Sol. Priced from £262 per person includes return flights and seven nights self-catering accommodation based on two adults sharing a one bedroom apartment. Click here for details or call 0333 777 4740.


Costa Blanca – Spain from £409 pp – Depart London Gatwick on 14 June for a seven night stay at the three diamond Servigroup Torre Dorada Hotel. Priced from £409 per person includes return flights and seven nights half board accommodation based on two adults sharing a twin room. Click here for details or call 0333 777 4740.

Dalaman – Turkey from £434 pp – Depart Luton on 15 June for a seven night stay at the five diamond D-Resort Grand Azur. Priced from £434 per person includes return flights and seven nights half board accommodation based on two adults sharing a double. Click here for details or call 0333 777 4740.


– all prices correct at time of publishing –

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Meet Sally, Corporate Responsibility & Communications Coordinator Tue, 24 May 2016 07:00:18 +0000 Doing My Bit For Charity – by Sally Russell

Sally Russell

I was born in March, Cambridgeshire and grew up in the village of Brampton near Huntingdon. I went to Hinchingbrooke School, the local 1800-pupil comprehensive, which gave me the best start in life.  My love of all things outdoors led me to Loughborough University where, aside from playing sport and enjoying the odd pint of purple nasty, I studied Modern European Studies (Economics, Politics and German). The best thing about my degree was spending a year living in Germany – I learnt how the world worked and with five different nationalities in my flat and German our only common language, I had to learn quickly! These days I live in Hitchin and am married with three teenage children and a husband (also a positive legacy of my time at Loughborough!) who has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years.

My friends would probably describe me as kind, calm and confident.  I’m also known for my lively sense of fun and my wise counsel – and for mixing the two whenever possible!

I joined Monarch in January 2014 following a number of happy years working as Community Partnerships Manager for Hertfordshire Constabulary and a long and successful career in sales and marketing before that. Compassion and community-mindedness have always been important to me and I made a positive decision that whatever I did next in my professional life would involve working with charities. This, along with my love of travel, meant that the job at Monarch was the perfect opportunity.

SR Crete

My day to day role involves making sure that Monarch is a responsible corporate citizen and provides effective and sustainable support to the charitable sector through fundraising, skills transfer, benefits in kind, volunteering, ambassadorship and networking. I manage the relationship with Monarch’s charity partners and look after all charity related activities including employee matched funding, strategic CSR initiatives, fundraising and events. Most recently I was responsible for the implementation of Monarch’s corporate charity partnerships review including the employee vote for new charity partners. I also act as Secretary to the Monarch Foundation charity group making sure that charity initiatives and activities are reviewed by the group and are brought alive across the business. I work with a fantastic network of charity champions who are based at all Monarch locations both in the UK and overseas and I support them in any charitable and fundraising activities they are planning. My role sits within the PR & Comms team and another element of my job is promoting the work of our charity partners and the Monarch Foundation to Monarch’s staff and customers. I write the internal comms for the Monarch Foundation on Monarch’s intranet and external articles for the press and for our inflight magazine, Passport. I also look after any other charitable activity which Monarch supports including one off campaigns, onboard charity initiatives and requests for donations.

Coffee Morning 20151

The thing I love most about my work is helping Monarch to make a positive difference to society – playing a pivotal role in how our customers and employees can make a difference to others is extremely rewarding. I work with some wonderful charities who do amazing things and being involved with them on a daily basis means I’m lucky enough to see first-hand how important their work is and how they help those in need of support. It puts everything into perspective. Life is hard for so many people and often it is the smallest of gestures that can make a huge difference to someone. I also really enjoy supporting staff fundraising and helping to encourage those who have made the often brave step to raise money for their chosen charity.


One of the more challenging elements of my job is thinking of fun and innovative ways to engage employees and customers with our charities.  But this is also one of the elements I enjoy the most as it results in a lot of enthusiasm from everyone as they get involved in all sorts of different activities!  The annual Monarch “Pimp My Pod” competition is a really good example of this, with our CEO at the forefront of the fun, along with the Movember campaign, which always results in a lot of competitive hair growth from our employees and customers! Some of my highlights at Monarch have included being an international volunteer for the Homeless World Cup Foundation, working with the inspirational Blind Veteran Simon Brown; implementing a strategic review of the onboard charity collections procedure and moving to a new supplier; working on the employee vote for new charity partners and being asked as an industry expert to be a judge at this year’s Business Charity Awards.

SR Charity Dress Up

My best moment since I joined Monarch was at the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile. It was such a privilege to be a part of the phenomenal work of this small charity, which uses football to change the lives of homeless people. At the opening ceremony, Mel Young, co-Founder and President of the Homeless World Cup, said to the hundreds of players who had turned their lives around from homelessness “You are showing the world how we as human beings should behave. You are an example to the world”. Listening to those words and seeing the incredible impact of the Homeless World Cup Foundation and the way in which lives had been changed was a defining experience for me.


If you’re thinking of pursuing a career similar to mine, make sure you work for a cause you believe in, get a good grounding in marketing and communications and gain as much experience in third sector activities as you can – from volunteering to fundraising and event organisation. Being a people person and a good communicator is a must. And last but not least, you need to have a heart big enough for the incredible people you will meet, the countless acts of kindness you will see and the unbelievable resilience you will come to understand from those for whom the work of a charity is their lifeline.


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Monarch adds 60,000 seats to winter 2016/17 ski programme Mon, 23 May 2016 14:00:26 +0000 (Luton, UK – 23 May 2016) – Monarch, a leading UK independent airline group, today announces new flights for its winter 2016/17 schedule. Over 60,000 seats have been added to selected ski routes. On sale from today are more of the airline’s most popular ski destinations including Turin, Salzburg and Lyon. Flights and holidays are now available to book at

The following additional routes are now on sale for winter 16/17:

  • Birmingham to Salzburg
  • Birmingham to Turin
  • London Gatwick to Lyon
  • London Gatwick to Friedrichshafen

The extended winter 2016/17 schedule also includes additional flights to many of the airline’s most popular ski destinations such as Grenoble, Geneva and Innsbruck with flights at sociable times, allowing customers to escape for the perfect winter holiday to some of Europe’s most popular ski destinations.

There are more flights to the following routes:

  • Birmingham to Grenoble
  • London Gatwick to Grenoble
  • London Gatwick to Geneva
  • London Gatwick to Innsbruck
  • Manchester to Grenoble

Further routes and flights for winter 2016/17 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Marjan Schoeke, Monarch’s Head of Network Development comments: “We are delighted to announce the release of additional flights and frequencies to our schedule for winter 16/17. These additional routes provide our customers with 60,000 more seats to the most popular ski destinations. We continuously refine and develop our network strategy looking closely at where and at what time our customers want to fly.”


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Seven days in Madeira Fri, 20 May 2016 05:00:19 +0000 There are lots of reasons to visit Madeira. You may be holidaying in this Portuguese island off the north-west coast of Africa because of the fantastic outdoor pursuit options available. Alternatively, it could be the tantalising food that has drawn you to this foodie paradise. Whatever your motivation for travelling to Madeira, this seven-day itinerary will make sure you tick all the boxes and make the most of your time away.

Day 1 – Discover Funchal

Photo credit: iStock/kruwt; zensu; AnnaBreit; mfron

Touching down in the island’s capital, Funchal, you’re likely to be struck by a number of things. The first is how relaxed it is, as Madeira has a hot climate and a laid-back vibe. The second may be how many of the elements that make up Funchal feel very Portuguese. These are tempered by a British influence, which gently pervades the destination.

Start getting to know Funchal and ease gently into your holiday with a stroll along the Avenida do Mar. This coastal promenade is lined with palm trees, pleasant cafes and stands selling the local Madeiran flatbread, bolo do caco, baked freshly each day. It’s a great way to fill a gap while on the move.

From here, make your way inland to the Zona Velha, or old town. Finding yourself in a maze of terracotta-roofed houses you may eventually end up at the cathedral, but wandering aimlessly is just as pleasant. Stepping inside the church, which is still widely visited by the residents of the archipelago, take note of the altarpiece. It is surrounded by a huge Gothic canopy, but the gilt work, sculptures and oil paintings put directly onto the wood really shine through. It was commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal and has been in place since 1515.

Stop for lunch at the A Muralha restaurant in the old town, which has a very well-priced lunch menu and free Wi-Fi. It’s a great way to be introduced to Madeiran food, as many of the dishes on offer are classics and the staff are friendly and helpful when it comes to explaining the cuisine and recommending their favourites.

From Ruo do Oudinot in the old town, take the number 22 bus to the cable car station near the Botanical Gardens. This bus leaves every half an hour during the day and takes just over 20 minutes to get you to your destination. Once there, take the cable up Monte Funchal for panoramic views of the city and a chance to look inside the church of Nossa Senhora do Monte with its double towers.

While you could purchase a return ticket on the cable car, there’s a much more fun way to descend the hill. Wicker toboggans have been transporting the residents of this neighbourhood swiftly into the centre of the city since around 1850. It usually takes about ten minutes to complete the two kilometres down the hill. Don’t worry if you’re not good at keeping in control of sledges, two traditionally dressed attendants in straw hats will do the steering and the stopping!

Day 2 – Walk along the levadas

Photo credits: iStock/aldorado10; hopsalka

On your second day on Madeira, get up at a reasonable time to embark on a whole day’s walking. The island is famous for the levada irrigation channels that are used to hydrate the south of the island, which doesn’t get as much rain as the north. Throughout history, this network has allowed vineyards, orchards, vegetable gardens and banana plantations to thrive throughout the island. In modern times, they make wonderful routes to follow when setting out to hike through some of Madeira’s most stunning landscapes.

Before you set off for your walk, head to Mercado dos Lavradores, the market in the centre of Funchal. It opens at 7am and you can stock up on masses of fresh produce for your lunch later in the day. Bolo de mel, the local honey cake, will be a welcome sight when you stop partway through your walk to refuel. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you’ll find everything you need for a handsome picnic.

Madeira’s levadas cover more than 2,500 kilometres in total, but you can choose to walk for as long or as short a distance as you like. Exploring the Serra D’Agua Valley, for example, can be done at a leisurely pace, as many people take only half a day to complete the route. Walking from Ribeiro Frio to Portela is definitely a full day’s expedition, on the other hand, so be sure to judge your fitness levels accordingly.

As well as your picnic, pack essentials for all weather conditions into your backpack, including rain gear and sunscreen. Practical footwear of either walking boots or an alternative with good grip and ankle support is important to avoid injury.

Day 3 – Soak up some sun on the beach

Photo credit: iStock/digitalg

For many people, it’s not a holiday without some time spent lazing around on the beach. After a day of walking the levadas, you’ve certainly earned some relaxation and there are plenty of beaches to choose from in Madeira, but there are a few things to bear in mind. The main one is that, not all of the island’s beaches feature sand; so if this is a priority then choose carefully. For those who are happy to stretch out on a sun lounger with pebbles underneath there is more choice.

Hop on bus 113 to Prainha Beach, for a landscape that is quite different from the rest of the island. The lush green of much of Madeira is replaced by black volcanic soil and the nearby Piedade Dunes contain limestone fossils. The fishing village of Canical is not far away, but there’s also a restaurant at the beach itself, so you can buy your lunch there, as well as rent sun loungers and parasols.

Buses on the 80, 107 and 142 lines go over to Calheta, where there are two sandy beaches, created with specially imported golden sand. They are great for families and have protected swimming areas that allow kids to really make the most of their beach time. Canoeing and windsurfing facilities are also available. The nearby marina means there are lots of options when it comes to dining.

Alternatively, take the two-and-a half-hour ferry crossing over to Porto Santo, which lies 50 kilometres off the coast. Boats leave from the harbour in Funchal at 8am and return at 6pm, although it is worth checking for any seasonal changes to the schedule. With more than nine kilometres of beautiful golden sand, it is well worth the extra effort for a day on Porto Santo’s stunning beach. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the sea is warm to swim in and its safe too.

There are several restaurants near the beach, making grabbing lunch easy enough if you haven’t packed a picnic. Mar e Sol is a particularly good option, as this family-run establishment serves up large bowls of fragateira. Nothing says a beach day like a mouthful of seafood stew. If you fancy a stroll, then head into nearby Vila Baleira and there are even more restaurants there.

Day 4 – Take in the coastal beauty of Camara de Lobos

Photo credits: iStock/saiko3p; aldorado10; aldorado10

If on your fourth day on the island you are ready to do some more exploring, make your way out west. From Funchal, you will soon find yourself in the small fishing village of Camara de Lobos, named for the sea lions that were once present in the sea off the coast. Now, you will find a charming village, pebble beach and plenty of natural attractions to keep you entertained all day.

Among these are the Cabo Girao cliffs, which are the second highest in the world, with a drop of 590 metres into the sea. For those who are feeling brave, there is a glass skywalk that takes you right over the edge to experience this stunning natural phenomenon with a bird’s eye view.

If you’d still like great vistas, but would prefer something more substantial beneath your feet, try the Pico de Torre viewpoint instead. At 250 metres high, it affords wonderful views over Camara de Lobos, the surrounding area, complete with vineyards, banana plantations and cherry trees, and then across to Funchal. It’s worth the climb to see all of the bounties that nature has to offer.

To really treat yourself, dine at the Vila do Peixe restaurant. Not only does it have superb views over the bay, but there is a huge selection of fish available. You pick your specimen before it is cooked and then it is served up to you at the table and charged according to weight. It is a good idea to book, especially in high season, as Vila do Peixe has a great reputation not just locally, but internationally too. If you are visiting on a Wednesday, you may also be treated to a performance by Madeiran folk dancers.

Before leaving Camara de Lobos, the adults may wish to partake in some poncha. This fiery local spirit is a speciality in the village and is distilled from sugar cane and usually served with lemon juice and honey. You’ll see it advertised at many of the bars around Camara de Lobos, so give it a try if you’re feeling adventurous.

Day 5 – See the sweet side of Santa Cruz

Photo credits: iStock/val_th; Drpgayen

Just 15 minutes from Funchal lies the quiet laidback destination of Santa Cruz. Located on the east coast of the island, you’ve got verdant hills to one side and the tranquil ocean to the other. In between is SantaCruz, with its whitewashed churches, blue painted boats and friendly atmosphere. Spend the morning relaxing on one of the sun loungers on the pebble beach, before wandering along the promenade to enjoy lunch at a restaurant lining the shore.

Sugar cane has always been an important crop for Madeira and there are still a few factories that still process it in the traditional manner. One of these can be found in Santa Cruz and it’s a fascinating way to spend the afternoon. You will be given a guided tour of the factory and see exactly how the cane is converted into the sugar that we know and use on a day-to-day basis.

Not far from Santa Cruz is Machico, which was among the first settlements on Madeira to be founded. Explore the two forts that were used to help defend this part of the coast from pirates and be sure to find the oldest church on the island. As much of Madeira has pebble beaches, it’s worth taking your shoes off and feeling the sand between your toes at Machico, as it is home to one of the best beaches on the island.

Day 6 – Climb Pico Ruivo

Photo credit: iStock/Lidian Neeleman

The tallest mountain on Madeira at 1,862 metres is Pico Ruivo and for keen walkers, it is just crying out to be climbed. The only way to reach the summit is by foot, but there are two different options when it comes to getting there. If you are especially fit and up for a challenge, then tackle Pico Ruivo after first conquering Pico de Arieiro next door, which involves a fairly strenuous hike. Alternatively, take on Achada do Teixeira, which is shorter and more straight forward.

Depending on which route you opt for and the general speed of your walking, you’ll be away for varying amounts of time. Realistically, most relatively fit people will take between five and six hours to complete the 12 kilometres of the Pico de Arieiro option. Meanwhile, the Achada do Teixeira hike can normally be completed in between two and a half to three hours.

Even if you are opting for the shorter route and expect to descend the mountain in time for lunch, be sure to pack supplies. This means both plenty of water and some snacks, as unexpected events can mean things take longer than anticipated. Also, bring rain gear in case the weather suddenly changes and a torch for the tunnelled sections. Mountain guides are available and their services should be sought by those who are less experienced on the hills.

The paths up Pico Ruivo are well maintained and there are plenty of signposts. There is a small rest hut and shop not far from the summit, allowing you to recharge a little before the final push. At the top of the mountain, all of your hard work will be rewarded with stunning views over the entire island of Madeira. Be sure to look for the places you’ve already visited on your trip and where you’re heading tomorrow.

Day 7– Relax in the natural lava pools at Porto Moniz

Photo credit: iStock/Olga_Anourina; dinozaver

On your final day in Madeira, treat yourself to a relaxing time in order to return refreshed. This means going swimming in the sea or taking a dip in a pool. In Madeira, you can combine both of these pastimes by heading to the small town of Porto Moniz. Here, natural lava pools have filled with sea water, providing great places to bathe. The contrast between the white horses produced by the crashing waves and the dark hue of the rocks makes it particularly stunning.

With great views over the natural pools and delicious seafood to match, the Orca Restaurant is a pretty good option for grabbing some lunch. Be sure to get a table on the terrace to make the most of the location and soak up the best of Madeira’s climate for the last time before returning home.

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Great Ormond Street Hospital chosen as Monarch’s new charity partner Thu, 19 May 2016 15:20:01 +0000 Monarch’s customers and employees have voted to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH) in its recent charity partner review, The Monarch Foundation announced today.

The Monarch Foundation is the cornerstone of the company’s corporate responsibility programme which raises funds through the generosity of Monarch’s customers and employees.  Customers and employees also voted to continue the partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, extending Monarch’s 27 year partnership, during which time more than £4.5 million has been raised to help make sure that no one faces cancer alone.  The charities fall into the Foundation’s categories of Children and Young People and Health and Well-being.

Monarch’s new partnership with GOSH means it can help to fund the hospital’s most urgent needs and provide world-class care to seriously ill children and their families all over the UK. Monarch’s customers and employees will be able to support ground-breaking research into the development of new treatments, fund the most up-to-date equipment, help to provide accommodation and support services for children and their families and contribute to the rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital.

The Monarch Foundation has also confirmed that it will continue to work with the charities Blind Veterans UK and Just a Drop which it has supported since 2014. In addition to working with Blind Veterans UK to support visually impaired passengers on board Monarch flights, work will also begin with the National Autistic Society. Cabin Crew will be trained and coached on the needs of autistic children and their families who travel with Monarch and how they can help to make their journeys more comfortable.

Child with Musicians












The Monarch Foundation brings together the generosity of Monarch’s millions of customers and thousands of employees to make a strong and positive commitment to its chosen charity partners.  In 2015 it raised £428,000 including £331,000 from onboard collections and £30,000 from its partnership with Pennies, the digital charity box, which encourages customers to donate 50p when booking online. Employees raised over £37,000 and a further £30,000 was raised from the sales of onboard charity initiatives.

Pauline Prow, Chair of The Monarch Foundation, said:

“Great Ormond Street Hospital was a clear winner with our employees and customers and we are very excited about our new partnership with them as well as continuing our partnerships with Macmillan, Blind Veterans UK and Just a Drop.   We would like to thank our customers and employees for their ongoing support helping to make a difference to the lives of so many people.”

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No1 Lounges bolsters Monarch partnership Wed, 18 May 2016 13:06:02 +0000 Building on a successful partnership at Gatwick Airport, leading UK independent airline group Monarch has chosen award-winning lounge operator No1 Lounges as its preferred lounge supplier at Birmingham Airport.

Monarch passengers will now be able to purchase No1 lounge entry with departing flights from Birmingham Airport at The deal comes a year after Monarch began offering No1 lounge entry to passengers departing from Gatwick Airport.

Birmingham Airport has been a primary focus for the leading airline this year with new routes between Birmingham & Lisbon, and Birmingham & Madrid launching this month. Monarch also announced the arrival of an additional Airbus A320 aircraft which will be based at Birmingham Airport this summer, bringing the total number of flying aircrafts to 35.

For £24.00 per adult and £16.00 per child, Monarch passengers can take advantage of a tended bar serving soft & alcoholic drinks, a seasonal bistro menu, plus unlimited WiFi and a wide range of leading newspaper and magazine titles to take on-board.

Mark Woodcock, Commercial Director at No1 Lounges said:  “Monarch continues to promise superior service at an affordable price and we’re delighted to be able to extend our partnership to Birmingham Airport.”

Hugo Vicente de Freitas, Retail Product Development Manager at Monarch said: “We are pleased to be building on our partnership with No1, offering customers access to their lounge facility in Birmingham. Our focus is to continuously improve our customer journey and we believe that the No 1 Lounges will be a popular choice with our customers.”

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Top tips for a digital escape Wed, 18 May 2016 05:00:01 +0000 It’s hard to leave work behind at the end of the day – especially when smartphones make it so easy to check what’s happening anytime. And the more you do so, the more of a habit it becomes – a quick glance on the train home, a swift check while watching TV in the evening, a final look before going to bed… In fact, before you know it, you might be constantly checking in with the office, no matter where you are.

Of course, this kind of technology has plenty of advantages – not least giving you the flexibility to work where and when you choose. However, it can cause a problem when it comes to switching off. Plenty of people now not only find themselves becoming more stressed during the run-up to their holiday, trying to get everything finished before turning on their out of office, but regularly dipping into work while they’re actually away too.

If this sounds like you, read our tips for making your next holiday a digital escape.


There’s more to a holiday enjoying quality time with your partner and children than simply leaving your smartphone switched off (though that will certainly help) – it’s as much about good preparation as anything else.

Naturally, as your holiday approaches, you’ll be trying to tie up loose ends and finish projects. Before rushing to do so, take a step back and evaluate what really needs doing before you go. For example, there might be projects that will not progress while you’re away anyway because other key members of staff aren’t available. Or, some tasks may simply be unachieveable in that timeframe. Try to make a list of what is both necessary and realistic, and stick to that.

To that end, it’s best to keep the day or two before you go away as free from meetings as possible. This way, you can focus on getting what’s necessary done without adding unduly to your to-do list. It’s also a good idea to book your first day back as a meeting-free day – this will give you an opportunity to catch up with minimal interruptions. Knowing you have that time set aside will help make going back to work less daunting, and by extension, your holiday more relaxing.

Another good tip is to make a short to-do list for when you get back. This can help keep you focused on your priorities and make sure you don’t feel lost for where to start once you return. Again, this creates a little extra peace of mind for a happier holiday.

Image credit: iStock/MaximVasic

Digital? Don’t pack it

There is no simpler way to give yourself a break from your smartphone, laptop or tablet than by not packing it. However, this is probably far easier achieved with laptops and tablets (though the children might want these for entertainment on the plane!) than with smartphones, simply because you’re probably more reliant on your phone. You might feel you need it to translate restaurant menus, for example, or to navigate new places.

So, pack as little as you can – but what you must pack, try to use as little as possible. Aim only to pull out your phone for the essentials, and don’t be tempted to check your work email in the middle of a memorable family day out.

Sever the work connection

Of course, staving off the temptation can be easier said than done if your work emails are permanently linked up to your smartphone. If that’s the case, sever the connection for the duration of your holiday. After all, it’s hard to escape work if you’re still being notified every time you get a message!

Image credits clockwise from left: iStock/Imgorthand, iStock/Imgorthand, iStock/Christopher Futcher

Rope in the whole family

Turning your family holiday into a digital escape involves more than just you. Encourage your partner and children to follow suit and put away the smartphones and tablets for the duration of your trip. If all of you manage it, you’re far more likely to have a proper break from the digital world and spend more quality time together as a family. It’s surprising just how much of a difference taking away those distractions can make.

Interactive activities

Make the most of the fact that you and your family are smartphone and tablet-free by indulging in a few activities that allow you to spend some quality time together. Why not enjoy a scenic bike ride along the coast, for example, followed by a picnic lunch? Or spend a day exploring historic ruins, imagining what the world was like in their heyday? Anything that gives you the opportunity to make some memories and have fun together – uninterrupted and distraction-free.

When you return home

Having a break from technology for a week or two can do you the world of good – especially if you take a few lessons from it home with you. For example, it’s likely that once you switch on your phone or laptop, you’ll discover that you haven’t missed anything important. While you can’t always ignore your phone or emails, you probably don’t need to check them as much as you think – and doing so less will free up more time for you to spend time with your family and doing things you enjoy.

In search of inspiration for your next break? Take a look at the best family resorts for half-term.

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Sink your teeth into World Baking Day Tue, 17 May 2016 08:00:42 +0000 Whether you enjoy trying pastries on your holidays in order to recreate them when you get home, or marvelling at baked treats that you’ll never cook yourself, World Baking Day is the perfect excuse. This event, celebrating all things sweet, squidgy and oh-so-yummy falls on May 17th and we’ve put together a list of the pastries you should try across Europe and some of the best bakeries serving them up.

Éclair – Chez Maitre Pierre – Nice

Photo credit: iStock/Gennady Kravetsky

No round-up of the best pastries in Europe would be complete without mentioning France. After all, it is here that the art of patisserie was born and continues to thrive. The best bakery – or should we say boulangerie – in the city of Nice is Chez Maitre Pierre. For more than 30 years, this wonderful establishment has been turning out artisanal bread, pastries and cakes. It even produces a different type of loaf for each day of the week.

While there are many sweet treats that may catch your eye, you can’t beat a classic. The éclair is the perfect combination of choux pastry, fresh cream and that crowning sliver of chocolate across the top. Choux pastry is quite a skill to master, so why not leave it to the experts?!

Cannoli – Ciuri Ciuri – Rome

Photo credit: iStock/EnkiPhoto

Although originally from Sicily, there is a great place to get cannoli in Rome. Ciuri Ciuri was set up by a Sicilian family and has become so successful, its shops can be found in four locations across the Eternal City. Cannoli are pastry tubes filled with a sweet ricotta filling that is sometimes flavoured with additional ingredients.

The way to tell a good cannolo (the singular of cannoli) is that its filling is only piped in when you order it. This maintains the integrity of the pastry, preventing it from going soft or moist.

Vanilla slice – Konditorei Schatz – Salzburg

Photo credit: iStock/gillian van Niekerk

Austria is another nation that has got its baking down to a fine art. The firm but tasty crème patisserie held within two pieces of puff pastry and finished with icing on a vanilla slice is a thing to behold. Down a little passageway in Salzburg is a gem of a patisserie that has been serving such delights since 1850. The shopfront is stunning and inside it is like stepping back in time.

Sit and indulge in your vanilla slice with a cup of coffee or have it beautifully packaged to take away. Either way, be sure to feast on the array of cakes and pastries beautifully displayed before you leave.

Pastel de nata – Pasteis de Belem – Lisbon

Photo credit: iStock/Zakharova_Natalia

You may have to queue to get your hands on one of the custard-filled tarts from the Pasteis de Belem bakery in Lisbon, but it will be well worth it. The establishment still plies its trade in the shadow of the Jeronimos Monastery where the recipe was thought up by resident nuns. The tarts are served hot from the oven in beautiful blue and white surroundings in the same way it has been done since 1837.

There are other items available from the bakery, but these custard tarts really are the star of the show. If you become hooked after one bite you can buy a box to take away with you.

Panettone – Marchesi – Milan

Photo credit: iStock/haoliang


Indulging in a baked treat from Marchesi in Milan is as much about the whole experience as satiating a sweet tooth. This beautiful pastry shop has been in business since 1824, although when it first opened it was somewhat humbler than it is today. When Angelo Marchesi took it over in the early 1900s he complemented the cakes, pastries and biscuits with a bar selling coffee and even cocktails.

There is nothing quite as Italian as panettone and this sweet bread originated in Milan. It’s a great option for anyone who finds many other pastries just a little too sickly. Needless to say, the panettone served as Marchesi is prepared in the traditional manner.

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Meet Ed, Avionics Technical Services Engineer Tue, 17 May 2016 07:00:58 +0000 Working in avionics means no day is the same, as Ed will tell you. Find out what he gets up to here at Monarch as an Avionics Technical Services Engineer! Spoiler: it involves travelling to Greenland.

 Hi Ed! First off, let’s find out a bit more about you – what’s your background?

I was born in Luton and was raised in a village about 10miles form there called Harlington. I spent 16 years there until I moved back to Luton after I got an apprenticeship with Monarch. I went to Harlington Upper School which is a Specialist Science College which I really enjoyed. It turns out a lot of people from Harlington Upper School work as engineers here at MAEL!


If your friends described you in three words, they would say…

Generous, committed and caring. I am usually referred to as the one in charge – taking after my dad. I always know what we’re doing and where we going.

When did your passion for aircraft start?

My whole family works at Luton airport so it’s kind of in my blood. However I’ve always wanted to do something different, something you don’t hear of people doing every day. I started out wanting to be an electrician, but was soon on to the idea of becoming an aircraft engineer. As I wanted to be an electrician what better to do than work in avionics, the best of both worlds.

Why did you choose to work in engineering?

I enjoy tinkering, taking things apart and putting them back together. I also love cars and motorbikes especially, I ride my Yamaha MT-07 every day to work and back. This said, I thought I could take on the challenge of working on aircraft – it’s a different level of engineering, the tolerances worked to are within thousands of an inch! My apprenticeship certainly pushed my boundaries, but I enjoyed every minute of it and I’m glad I did it.

What made you want to work for Monarch?

My auntie was cabin crew for Monarch at the time I expressed my interest in the aviation industry, so she got me an application form to apply for the company’s apprenticeship scheme. I had looked around at other companies, but Monarch has been commended for their apprenticeship scheme and has been taking on apprentices for 40 years or so. I ended up only applying for Monarch, as I only wanted to get an apprenticeship here. Thankfully, I got it.

How long have you been working for Monarch?

I have worked for Monarch for nearly 7 years. I completed my four years’ worth of apprenticeship which I loved; when I finished all the apprenticeship graduates including myself were offered jobs at the newly-opened Birmingham hangar, which at the time didn’t suit me. It was while on an ‘A’ license module course at the training school that I saw the Technical Services role advertised. Having some of the engineers moving up to the department in my final year of my apprenticeship made me interested to see what it was all about. I knew they had taken on a trainee in the past so I applied and the rest, as they say, is history.


What does your day-to-day job consist of?

My day to day role consists of an enormous amount of work. It can be anything from assessing publications for Service Bulletins to Airworthiness Directives for some of our many customers, to troubleshooting aircraft issues, to speaking to manufacturers or vendors. We also have a long list of other work items we have to monitor – some of these being user-loadable software, coding and registering Emergency Locator Transmitters, controlling modification statuses, providing assistance in flight safety investigations, monitoring defects, reliability analysis, support to aircraft on ground and many more. Also answering any issues our customers may have. As you can tell a lot of work goes on! There are 16 Technical Services Engineers on my floor with the same workload as me, if not more on some days. The workload can change from day to day, I am never doing the same thing. This is a busy and exciting time to be a Technical Services Engineer at MAEL.

What are some of your best memories from travelling on the job?

I’d say the best memory from travelling with work was travelling to Greenland. It was a trip of a lifetime! How many people can say that? I have been to many places but Greenland sticks out. Between jobs we went fishing, saw an iceberg, got bitten by small birds (not so fun), drank local beer and I was inside the Arctic Circle!


What are some of the challenges of the job?

The main challenge of this role is keeping on top of the massive workload! There is so much to do and my to-do list is usually jam-packed with items. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy being busy, I find if you’re busy throughout the day it goes quicker. Plus I really do enjoy my job which makes the day go even faster!

What gives you the most satisfaction in the job?

The most satisfying part of my job is seeing the aircraft fly overhead. Knowing how much time and effort that goes on behind closed doors in Technical Services is great, the engineers do a great job but it isn’t without help.

What keeps you motivated to enjoy your job?

What keeps me motivated to enjoy my job is literally enjoying my job. It’s never hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. We also have a good bunch of guys and gals up here and that helps to. I work with a fantastic bunch of people and enjoy every minute of it.

787 engine

What do you love the most about it?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing, so here are two reasons. One of the things I love most about being a Technical Services Engineer is the challenge, no two jobs are exactly the same. The second thing is the travel, it’s a dream of mine to see the world and travel to do something I enjoy and getting paid for it, is quality! I have been travelling a lot recently but being a young man with no family of my own or commitments it’s easy for me to drop what I am doing and go. Next week I will be going to a new destination, Zurich, which I am really excited about. It’s for a C Check (a big aircraft maintenance check) on one of the aircraft that I look after, and I will be providing onsite support.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

My proudest achievement…so far is completing my apprenticeship! I worked hard for four years but it is paying off now. I really enjoyed it and it was made a breeze by the engineers that I worked with in the Luton facility. I am thankful for their support, they were brilliant. Also a big thanks to my colleagues Jay O’Brien and Jeff Brewer for putting up with me for four years!

Any advice for those thinking or pursuing a career similar to yours?

Absolutely!! Work hard in school, enjoy what you’re doing, and take life as it comes.


Thank you for your time Ed! Now to finish the interview off…tell me a fun fact about you!

Fun fact about me…I am always happy. You will be hard pushed to find me in a bad mood. Also I enjoy going to watch the England cricket team in fancy dress!

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