Last Friday, International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling Airlines, and Aer Lingus launched a new airline called LEVEL. Based out of Barcelona, Spain, the airline will provide long haul low-cost service connecting Europe with 4 cities across the Atlantic. Starting on June 1st, LEVEL will operate brand new Airbus A330s between Barcelona and Los Angeles and Oakland, California. Later in the month of June, they will also be launching service from Barcelona to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Tickets went on sale last Friday with the announcement of the new airline and $149 one-way fares. Mr. TT sent this deal out to Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers and was also able to take advantage of the deal himself for a flight to Barcelona in June! The fares were only $256 round-trip, if you purchased two one-way tickets! Sadly this deal sold out Friday afternoon, but we'll definitely keep an eye out to see if they launch any new specials.
Fares include one personal item and a typical carry-on bag with reasonable dimensions of 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches. Checked bags are $44 and seat assignment is around $20 each way. We recommend traveling with a carry-on only to save quite a bit of coin (and travel more efficiently).
Notable Information From The Official Press Release
- The Airbus A330 aircraft will be fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats. Economy will have a 2-4-2 seat configuration (one our favorite configurations for the low number of middle seats).
- Initially, flights will be operated by Iberia's flight and cabin crew but will eventually create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona for LEVEL staff.
- Barcelona has been chosen as the first European city for the launch of IAG's new operation but LEVEL will look to expand its flights from other European cities in the future.
- Checked luggage (in addition to a free cabin bag), meals, seat selection and the latest movie releases will be complimentary for customers flying in premium economy. Those traveling in economy can chose what they want to buy based on a menu of choices (meals, drinks, seat selections, etc.). All customers will have access to next generation inflight technology with a wide range of onboard entertainment options. High speed internet connectivity will be available with prices starting at around $10.
- LEVEL's customers will be able to earn and redeem Avios (I imagine at a highly reduced rate) – the loyalty currency for IAG's airlines (British Airways). This will give them the opportunity to fly to 380 destinations across the Group's network.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world's largest airline groups behind it.
LEVEL is IAG’s response to budget carriers like Norwegian, WOW air, Icelandair, etc., who has given them tough competition in many of the European markets they serve. It will be interesting to see if the “If you can't beat them, join them” approach works for IAG as this is their first venture into the low cost carrier market. Based on the Facebook post above, their new approach appears to be working! 52,000 seats sold is equivalent to over 165 full planes sold out in the first day alone! From a consumer's standpoint, this news should be welcomed with open arms as it will surely mean more competition and continued cheap fares from the US to Europe. If you don't mind paying for seat assignments, meals, checked bags, etc., it is hard to argue with $149 fares from the west coast to Europe.
When will we see a similar entry into the low cost long haul from the APAC region? I know there are some from Singapore and other SEA countries but none cross the Pacific. Maybe something from Japan?
Great question Matt. Back in January, it was announced that AirAsia, a low cost Malaysian airline that operates primarily in SEA got clearance for flights to US airports. However, it has not yet been announced where and when these flights will start. More information can be found at the following link from CNN money. http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/24/news/airasia-us-flights-low-cost-budget-airline/