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New Transatlantic Low-Fare Airline Debuts with Cheap Flights to Europe

SmarterTravel

The new transatlantic low-fare line, Level, has started flying from its Barcelona base to Los Angeles and Oakland. This summer, it operates three times a week from Oakland and twice from Los Angeles. Schedules follow the usual pattern: overnight to Europe, daytime return.

The pricing strategy seems to be emulating Norwegian: a base fare that includes almost nothing extra, up to a fully flexible fare, plus premium economy.

Level: The New Cheap Europe Flights Option

Level is flying A330s for the U.S. trips. Although Level doesn’t yet publish a seating chart or provide data to SeaGuru, it appears that the economy section is the usual eight-across, at tight pitch, and the premium economy is seven-across at 37-inch pitch, with checked baggage and full cabin meal and beverage service.

Currently, fares from Oakland posted for mid-August show base round-trips at $401; Basic Plus, including a checked bag and meals, is $656; and premium economy is $1,399. Travelers on basic-fare tickets pay $44 for a checked bag if paid online, and $40 for a hot meal. Oddly, travelers on both Basic Plus or “promotional” premium economy tickets must pay $17 to $37 to preselect a seat. Wi-Fi is available at extra cost for all tickets.

Level: The Only Carrier Flying Nonstop from the Bay Area to Barcelona

Nobody else flies nonstop from either Oakland or San Francisco to Barcelona. By comparison, one-stop connecting flights from Oakland start at $672 on Norwegian; one-stops from San Francisco on the same dates start at $858 on the giant lines. So, at least for now, Level has the lowest available fare by almost $300.

I found two oddities with Level, though. The search engine on the Level website does not give you the option to search for premium economy. Instead, you hit “another search,” which dumps you into the Iberia website, where you can find premium economy. Presumably, Level will work this out over time.

Additionally, Google Flights listed a fare of $366 on Level flights if you buy the going and returning tickets separately. This isn’t common, but it isn’t rare, either. Airlines that offer cheap one-way fares sometimes offer lower fares from their home base to the U.S. than the return portion of a round-trip. Always check.

For now, Level is a no-brainer for folks who want to go to Barcelona. But you can expect more aggressive fare-matching in coming months.

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