We just flew 6,000 miles for $107 a piece, did that get your attention?
Level Airlines is one of the newest ultra-low-cost-carriers to join the ranks of Wow and Norwegian. Their first flights commenced in June, but it still seems like a few kinks need to be sorted out.
99 Euros from Barcelona to Los Angeles
Booking for Level opened on March 17th with $100~ promo deals. I couldn’t help myself so I scooped up two one-way flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles. To give you an idea of how cheap this is, an award flight from Spain will still charge $55 in fees on top of points. We paid $45 more and used ZERO points.
We arrived to Barcelona on our routing through Abu Dhabi after flying on Etihad’s First Class Apartments. (just a slight step-down)
I used my Barclay Arrival Plus card which allowed me to “wipe out” these travel charges redeeming 10,700 points a piece. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that to go from Europe to the West Coast nonstop.
Level operates from Terminal 1 at Barcelona El Prat, the last stop if you are taking the L9 metro from downtown. Head up the long escalator to floor P3 for the Level check-in counter. When we arrived there was no line at the Level counter even though our flight was 95% full.
Upon walking up to the counter we were quickly greeted by a friendly face. She asked if we were checking bags, we said ‘no’ and made a small joke about traveling light. In less than two minutes she handed us boarding passes with some bad news for me. Unfortunately, I was “randomly selected” and tagged with the SSSS on my boarding pass. Not a fun sight at the end of our trip around the world.
Keep in mind, Level’s site claims to have strict baggage policies regarding weight and dimensions. Our carry-on bags were not weighed OR measured, a sigh of relief. Alyssa’s bag was slightly oversize, which could have cost us $55 to check at the airport had they checked/cared/looked. You are allowed a personal item like a backpack and a small carry-on with Level. (up to 22lbs & up to 22″ X 17″ X 10″ for the carry-on piece, personal item must fit under the seat and is not weighed)
Wow Airlines strictly enforces a ONE cabin item policy which makes it tough to not check a bag or pay for an extra carry-on. I weighed my backpack and carry-on suitcase, they totaled 43lbs. Most people bring well over than 40lbs of crap when traveling around the world, but I found it to be adequate considering the warm weather climates. (I carry the same amount of luggage when flying full service carriers, I just refuse to check luggage)
After heading over to the E gates, we spotted our flight’s gate and boarding line from afar. My SSSS badge of honor earned me a trip to secondary screening. I took off my shoes and the guard THOROUGHLY searched my belongings, a 10 minute process. Seems strange considering I have global entry, whatever.
They started boarding the back of the plane first, we had to wait for a while since we landed seats in row 20. In case you were wondering, we didn’t pay for seats OR baggage, not a dime! The check-in gal put us next to each other in row 20, one aisle and one middle. If we reserved these seats, we’d have paid $45 in total.
Level operates one plane, an Airbus A330-200. Seat pitch is a claimed 30″, though I felt it was a tad more. Seats are configured in a 2-4-2 layout. We were situated in seats 20E and 20D. Seat 20G was empty so Alyssa was able to sleep “more comfortably” for a good part of the flight.
The seats weren’t anything special but I did appreciate the adjustable headrest. When the passenger in front of you reclines things start to feel tight. I am 6’1″ so a bit taller than average but I never felt claustrophobic.
If you are under 5’10”, I wouldn’t be too concerned about space unless you are particular. If you are tall or wide, I’d pay the $30 in advance to reserve an aisle seat.
The flight was about 95% full so I didn’t see anyone attempt to self-upgrade. That isn’t to say people didn’t do weird things on this flight, because they did.
Each seatback was equipped with your run-of-the-mill A330 IFE setup. Nothing to rave about but it gets the job done. If you forgot your headphones, they will sell you a pair for around $6.
There were plenty of new releases and oldies to keep you occupied. The on-screen flight details were vague and the map would not load on my screen, I did see it working on others’. It was a bummer not having a window or a working on-screen map to pin-point our location.
Free entertainment is always welcomed on a long flight. I found myself listening to music most of the time since none of the titles excited me after all our flights leading up to this one.
WiFi is available but I did not purchase it, I don’t have patience for slow internet. Level also has a way to link your phone for payment of food, water, etc.
After five minutes of attempting to pair my phone, and feeling my mouth become more dry, I gave up and walked to the galley to ask for water. The flight attendant let me know that the phone payment system wasn’t working for anyone, classic. They had a stack of cups and large bottle of water at no charge. Remember, ZERO food is provided for free on Level flights.
My fellow, passengers
This was my biggest take away from the flight, which I don’t feel I can complain much about considering the cost. That said, some of the passengers on this flight were extremely inconsiderate of others.
I’ve flown on a handful of long-haul economy flights in and out of the US, this one certainly takes the cake for strange passengers.
Feet in the aisle
This woman, who had seats A and C to herself (next to the window), decided it would be a good idea to sleep across two seats and stick her bare foot in the aisle. I don’t know what is worse, that someone would do this or that the flight attendants didn’t say anything to her.
Unfortunately, I had to step over her foot to get to the lavatory as did others. I witnessed this go on for at least 30 minutes with many people looking in disgust. If someone did this on while on a full-service carrier, the flight attendants would either hit their foot with the cart or wake them up and tell them to move their foot. At least her toenails were painted..
I witnessed a woman, in seat 18C, completely recline her seat prior to take off, multiple times. She did it once before the flight safety briefing. The flight attendants came through and told her to raise her seat up.
Within two minutes, she reclined again once the coast-was-clear. I watched as she thought a flight attendant was on her way back and she brought her seat forward as to not get ‘in trouble’. When the flight attendants took their seats, back it went.
She slammed her seat back with vengeance and gave no warning to the man behind her. He wasn’t a small man and looked very uncomfortable during taxi and take-off.
Because the seats were tight, so many limbs were in the aisle during the flight. It made things annoying when trying to get back and forth from the galley for water.
I don’t feel like I have much room to complain about a 6,000 mile flight that cost me $107. That said, the prices have certainly increased towards the $300+ range for a one-way from Barcelona to Los Angeles on Level. For $300, I would be upset with the lack of service and faulty payment functionality.
The reason I LOVE low-cost-carriers to/from the US/Europe is that there is generally no penalty for booking a one-way flight. With most legacy carriers, a one-way to/from Europe is not half the price of a round-trip, at times it is more for a one-way. For my unusual itineraries, cheap one-way flights to/from Europe are godsend to say the least.
I did witness a young male flight attendant chatting in the galley with a young female passenger behind the curtain, on multiple occasions. I thought it was a little strange and unprofessional when I walked up to ask for water.
If you are able to find this flight for under $200 one-way, I would consider it IF you can pack light and avoid a $30 seat reservation.