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The International Airlines Group (IAG), owners of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, and Aer Lingus, introduced a long haul low cost carrier last week called LEVEL. The airline is based out of Barcelona and has just four destinations for now.

Flights begin in June from Barcelona to:

  • Oakland (Bay Area) three times per week, beginning June 2
  • Los Angeles two times per week, beginning June 1
  • Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) two times per week, beginning June 10
  • Buenos Aires three times per week, beginning June 17

The cheapest tickets are priced at $150 for a one way between the west coast of the United States and Barcelona.

Don’t Expect Frills

LEVEL is a low cost carrier, which means the cheapest fares don’t come with any extras. You’ll have to pay to check luggage, select a seat, eat a meal, etc.

The branding is fresh and seems to be appealing to a young, backpacker market that won’t care about the economy seats having just 30 inches of pitch for a 12 hour flight as long they don’t have to pay much to get on the plane.

Looks like an Instagram photo to me. Hello Millenials!
Looks like an Instagram photo to me.

The Product

LEVEL will fly two Airbus A330s, each with 293 economy seats and 21 premium economy seats.

Seat configuration in economy is 2-4-2 with a pitch of 30 inches. For comparison, if you’ve ever flown one of Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliners used for long haul flights, those economy seats have 31 inches of pitch.

Each seat in economy has its own 9 inch screen.
Each seat in economy has its own 9 inch screen.

Premium economy will be a little less cramped with a 2-3-2 configuration and a pitch of 37 inches. Each seat a 12 inch screen fitted on the seat in front of it.

Wifi will be available in both cabins with prices starting around $10.

Wild Success?

On their second day of operation, LEVEL posted the following tweet…

That seems like a lot of tickets. Incredible, really.

Best Rewards to Use for Flights like These

Airfares, especially to Europe, are getting more and more competitive. You can easily book roundtrip fares across the pond that include a checked bag for $500 or often less. With the introduction of low cost carriers like Norwegian Air and LEVEL, you can book super basic fares for dirt cheap.

To cover these kind of flights, you don’t want to use traditional miles. Credit card points pretending to be miles, like those earned by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, are the best type of rewards to use on cheap revenue tickets.

You can open one credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, to completely cover your airfare and in some circumstances have statement credits leftover to help cover accommodation, low cost carriers for travel within Europe, or any other typical travel expense.

For a limited time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is offering with 50,000 bonus Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Arrival miles are perfect for covering cheap economy flights when miles aren’t worth spending, award taxes/fees, Airbnb’s, hotels, etc because they’re redeemed in the form of travel expense statement credits. You’ll earn 56,000 Arrival miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement of $3,000 in three months for the sign up bonus (50K), as every dollar spent earns two Arrival miles.

Bottom Line

At the end of last week, IAG’s new low cost carrier LEVEL launched ticket sales for routes from Barcelona to Oakland, Los Angeles, Punta Cana, and Buenos Aires. This is good news for those of you that live on the west coast and don’t mind budget travel, as you can find roundtrips for as little as $300 between California and Spain (or $150 for a one way).

Personally, I’m happy to see a little more competition introduced to the market in Buenos Aires which, historically, has had few options. I’ll be even happier to see Norwegian Air arrive to Southern South America at the end of this year, which I hope will provide and promote even more affordable options.

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