Level Enters Service to the Americas
This week, new airline Level finally entered service after months of anticipation. The inaugural flight left Barcelona bound for Los Angeles and the next day another new service to Oakland began. Both flights were operated by brand-new Airbus A330-200 aircraft and Level expects to have 5 of them in service by the end of the year. BCN-LAX will operate twice per week while BCN-OAK will be in the air three times per week.
Level is a new low-cost airline owned by the IAG group that includes British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling. It’s the first low-cost Trans-Atlantic service from the group and it’s expected that the flights will code-share with Vueling services from other parts of Europe. Level is just one of a number of low-cost airlines offering super cheap fares on Trans Atlantic routes. Last year, Norwegian began flights to Oakland from London Gatwick and now fly to 8 cities in the US. WOW airlines will also begin services in July from their base in Reykjavik.
What to Expect On Board
Level only came into existence this year, formed as a British-Spanish joint venture of BA and Iberia. The group ordered 5 brand new A330-200 aircraft for the LCC, with the first two being used on the LAX and OAK routes. They each seat 314 passengers including 21 in Premium Economy and 293 in a 2-4-2 layout in Y. Economy class seats only have 30″ of pitch but due to the layout, enjoy a bit of extra width compared to airlines operating a 3-3-3 layout. On the back of every seat is a 9″ screen with a decent selection of movies and TV shows.
There are 3 Premium Economy rows at the front, with a layout of 2-3-2. Seats in this cabin have a 37″ pitch and are equipped with a 12″ screen and noise-cancelling headphones. The seats recline well, include a foot rest and because the cabin only has 3 rows, there is a sense of privacy and quietness.
Wi-Fi is provided on board but it’s quite expensive, starting at €8.99 for a measly 40Mb. Below is a list of the internet packages on offer:
The Opening Flights
Surprisingly, there was not much fanfare or media presence for the launch flight. Marked as IB2623, it left the gate 40 minutes after the scheduled departure of 3:40pm, arriving at LAX 50 mins early at 7:05pm. The flight was crewed by Iberia staff who will operate the flights for the foreseeable future. Level arrives at the TBIT and offers onward connections with American Airlines, in line with the OneWorld partnership. This is really handy for those that are used to flying on Low Cost carriers and then having to check in again for onward connections.
The next day, the BCN-OAK flight similarly went off without a hitch and not so much as a peep. I couldn’t even find a news article reporting the latter inaugural flight. However, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and Level really doesn’t need any more publicity to promote these flights than it already has.
Fare Structure and Inclusions
Level have around 6 different fare types, ranging from the most basic through to an “all-inclusive” premium deal. The base “Level” fare allows you to bring one piece of hand luggage, with all else extra. The company informs you that if you plan to bring a piece of checked luggage, then the “Basic +” will be better value. This fare also entitles you to a free hot meal but you still need to pay for a seat.
Naturally, as you go up, more is included and the top Premium Economy deal includes the roomier seats, 2 pieces of checked luggage and a 3-course meal. All in all, it’s in line with what we’ve come to expect from a LCC and we think it’s solid competition compared for the likes of Norwegian.
Click here to read more about what Level includes in their different fare structures.
Different fare types. Image: FlyLevel.com
More New Routes and Future Growth Plans
It won’t be long before Level launches more routes. On June 10, it will launch flights between Barcelona and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Just a week later, on June 17, the airline will begin flights to Buenos Aires from Barcelona. This latter flight will tap a market that only one other low cost carrier flies – between Europe and South America. Currently, Azul Brazilian Airlines offers direct flights between Sao Paulo and Lisbon and will soon be joined by Level.
This is a real game changer as the LCC market in South America overall has been slow. Level will have a big advantage as it can code share with the short-haul Vueling. Another 3 new A330 aircraft will be delivered in the coming months, which most likely will be used to open up more routes. Rome and Paris are on the cards, as well as destinations in Asia.