I'm back with another trip report. This time I was lucky enough to grab one of the $99 intro fares from Level for Barcelona to Los Angeles in economy.
13 hours in economy was a long time, but here is my experience of it.
First off my video report as always for people who prefer it over readinghttps://youtu.be/BXqCc9k7CrM
And then the classic written trip report for those who prefer reading
Level airlines flight 2623
Depart: Barcelona (BCN)
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX)
STD: 3:40pm (ADP: 4:13pm)
STA: 7:55pm (ATA: 7:54pm)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
First Flight: 30th Mar 2017
Delivered to Airline: 5th May 2017
Flight Time: 12h 41M
Meal Service: Buy On Board
Today I would be flying on the newest airline in the IAG group. Level airlines.
Level airlines are the new low-cost budget airline that IAG started mainly to compete with Norwegian airlines on key routes.
They started operations on the 1st June 2017 at Barcelona airport and are flying two brand new Airbus A330-200's with four routes at the moment flying to Los Angeles, Oakland, Punta Cana and Beunos Aires.
I arrived at Barcelona airport on a short flight with British airways and had plenty of time to make my connection.
I ventured outside for a brief moment before starting my trip
Level airlines would not let me check in online and had to verify my payment card, so I had to use the regular check in,
Even though they are a budget airline they had a massive row of check in counters and the line was very short and I was being checked in after just a short two-minute wait.
When launching transatlantic fares Level offered starter fares at just $99 one way.
When booking, my seat selection was free with one world emerald status, but apparently level have now withdrawn that benefit.
After the quick check in, clearing the slightly annoying security and multiple passport checks at Barcelona airport I had made it air side.
Once air side our gate had not been assigned so I decided to kill some time in a priority pass lounge
The lounge was packed and the food was the usual cheese and meat selection with some bread on the side.
But at least they had some beer I could drink to pass the time,
After a few beers it was time to head down to the gate.
Level board the flight an entire one hour before its departure time, which is pretty impressive to be honest.
When I arrived at the gate people had already been lined up into boarding group numbers and it was very organised.
The boarding process started right on time exactly one hour before departure.
With credit to Level , I can see why they do this.
Let's just say the typical level airlines traveler probably takes two trips a year and is not fully down with the put your bag up and grab a seat as quickly as possible system. I'm only saying this from boarding where the path to my seat was jammed for two minutes by someone who could not decide where to put their bag in the overhead locker.
Now what is interesting with Level airlines is they have decided to adopt a 2 - 4 - 2 layout in the economy cabin.
To be honest this amazes me as most budget long haul airlines are offering 9 across in a 3 - 3 - 3 layout or on a bigger scale some, and not just budget airlines are packing in 10 across with a 3 - 4 - 3 layout.
So for level airlines to offer the double seats all the way through the cabin is a really nice thing for people who travel as a couple, and they don't charge anymore for these seats.
If you are looking for Level seats with the most Legroom Row 4 & 7 have fantastic leg room
With that being said, at the time of booking, there really was not a lot of information on what seats to pick and where the best seats are.
So I picked row 4 mainly because it was the first row in the economy cabin and had no idea what it would be like.
It was not my time to board and it was just a short walk to the plane, I was greeted and informed to cross over and turn left to find my seat.
Thankfully rows 4 - 6 are situated in a mini cabin with a bulkhead at the front and back of the cabin.
Personally I feel this makes the cabin more intimate as you don't have the feel of sharing a cabin with another 250 people and there are just 24 people in this cabin making it really the best of the bunch in my view.
Apart from row 7 at the front of the main economy cabin, this seat has tons of extra leg room with the exit row door just in front of it.
Here is my seat for the almost thirteen hour flight to Los Angeles,
I had seat 4L and I was delighted to have lots of extra leg room for the long flight.
Most of the regular seats with Level feature 30" of pitch which is a bit of a squeeze.
But as you can seat row 4 comes with some extra leg room and it amazes me that this seat cost no more than the others
I had plenty of space to stretch out
I made myself comfortable, well as comfortable as someone can be for a thirteen hour flight in economy,
For a long haul flight, you might be thinking about something to eat.
Yes you can buy food in the airport and bring it on with you, but the thought of a luke-warm sandwich which has been sitting in a bag for seven hours puts me off.
Level airlines offer a menu you can purchase from in advance, but that is only if you are able to pick up the really low level fare.
If you book the Basic fare or higher, your economy flight does come with a hot meal and a few drinks.
I however did have the level fare and it was an extra $40 to purchase the meal, yes that's right $40.
So I decided not to purchase any food in advance and pick something from the menu on the day of my flight.
More to come on my food choices later,
Sorry I forgot to take pictures of the menu, but they are in the video version.
Each economy seat comes with a 9" seat back TV screen which had a really good quality picture and good touch screen controls
There is also a small remote for Volume and channels next to you in your seat
Row four was almost like business class when it came to window space, I had three windows to myself
We pushed back right on time and then the safety video started to play.
The safety video was very clean and modern, almost sterile to be fair and sort of aimed at a younger market.
We had a fairly long taxi to the runway
And we crossed one to make it to our runway,
Finally we reached our runway and waited for about five planes to land and then the Captain informed us we had been cleared for take off.
It was a nice sunny afternoon in Barcelona and we took off into mainly clear skies, though it was a little bit bouncy on the climb out, mainly due to wind in the area.
We reached our initial cruise altitude of 36,000 FT and at this point we were flying west over Spain and onto Portugal.
Just after the seat belt sign was turned off the crew jumped into action selling amenity kits or headphones
I returned back to the tranquility of my mini cabin
Once in my seat the crew came around again and started handing out the pre order meals that had been bought.
Only about six of the people in my cabin had decided to take Level up on the pre purchase meal.
I had been talking with someone in the cabin and they very kindly took a photo of the Lasagne meal they had ordered in advance.
When I finally took a good look at the picture I can safely say that I was happy with my choice not to pay for it.
I mean $40 for this is pretty awful, but once again unless it was with the price of your ticket.
Next up I decided to review the entertainment selection.
Another nice feature about level airlines is all of the entertainment is included for free and you don't have to pay any extra to unlock it.
Movies, TV shows, Music is all free and has a really updated selection.
It's simple enough to use the touch screen to select what you want to watch,
Just remember that you will need to bring your own headphones, the headphone jack is located next to the USB charge point on the screen
The picture quality was great, clear and crisp
Just before I settled down to watch my movie of choice I decided to purchase something to eat and drink.
Level is one of the few airlines that presently offers in flight dining from your IFE screen.
You simply just pick out all the items you want on your screen and add them to your cart,
There is a pretty good selection of food, spirits, beer and wine and snacks to pick from,
Once you have loaded up your cart you check out on the screen.
Now the fun part here is that if you download the Level App in advance of your flight, you can add your credit card details and pair it with the screen via the planes Wifi.
The screen them provides a code at check out which your enter into the App and the check out process is then confirmed.
Within a few minutes of checking out the friendly flight crew arrived at my seat with everything I had ordered.
The sandwich was much better than I expected and tasty and the Gin I went for was very enjoyable.
My only slight complaint is paying 2.50 for a small bottle of water, but then again, it is a budget airline.
Later on in the flight I did order a few more snacks to enjoy
One slightly annoying this, and this is just from an airline geek perspective, is that Level's IFE system does not provide a map on where you are, it just shows you how long you have left in flight and the distance you have flown so far.
Over the Atlantic there was not much point in me checking, but once we crossed into the United States I used the GPS in my phone to track our location, this also works over the Atlantic if you are interested.
We crossed down just north of Toronto and made our way over Chicago and through Iowa into Kansas
We had about two hours of turbulence as we approach the coast of the US, but at this point the weather was nice and smooth
We crossed the Atlantic at 37,000 FT , but once we hit the states we flew up to our new cruising altitude of 40,000 FT for the rest of our flight.
With about one hour and thirty minutes of flight time remaining the crew came around again to give passengers who had paid for meals a snack box.
To my surprise the crew handed a snack box to myself and seat mate, we looked at each other confused for a moment.
Neither of us had pre paid or ordered this snack box, but it turns out that Level have some weird hidden benefits for anyone with one world status.
We found out from the crew, that this free snack box is provided to top tier frequent flyers who have one world emerald status.
But Level don't mention this at all anywhere on their website.
So it was a welcome bonus to end the flight with,
It was around 7.30PM local time and the sun was starting to set and we had about thirty minutes of flying time remaining.
We arrived into Los Angeles airport right on time with some stormy skies around but had a smooth touch down.
I was impressed with Level, they offered an exceptional fare with a brand new modern plane with some fun features that was better than some full service airlines. I was lucky with my leg room and enjoyed the flight.
At the right price I would consider flying Level airlines again in the future.
At present they have some expansion plans for the future and are looking at three more aircraft for summer 2018.
They also hope to have thirteen aircraft by 2019 and around thirty by 2022.
We have seen a lot of long haul budget airlines come and go over the years, so lets see how this plays out.