LEVEL Is Commencing Short Haul Operations (This Month!)

Filed Under: Other Airlines

UPDATE: Excellent launch fares appear to have now been loaded (this article was written late last week). If you are looking to travel to or from Vienna you may be in for a steal!

I’ve written before about how the ‘Big 3’ airlines are forming in Europe. Arguably the biggest airline group in Europe is the almighty IAG, home to British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, my nemesis Vueling, and others.

In a bid to compete with Norwegian, IAG launched LEVEL, a long haul, low cost model from Barcelona, where the group already has a huge presence with Vueling and Iberia. LEVEL is not well-known in the UK because they currently do not fly there, and from reading LEVEL trip reports, I don’t think Norwegian has much to worry about, as long as they can remain an independent airline.

I must admit I have absolutely no desire to fly LEVEL.

There are loads of low cost carriers in Europe already, in what is already a very crowded market, so I was somewhat surprised to hear the news that IAG is launching short haul operations from Vienna, using the LEVEL brand.

Launching in less than three weeks (!), LEVEL will commence flights to the following European destinations:

  • Alicante
  • Barcelona
  • Bilbao
  • Dubrovnik
  • Ibiza
  • Larnaca
  • London (LGW)
  • Majorca
  • Malaga
  • Milan (MXP)
  • Olbia
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Valencia
  • Venice

This is an impressive route map for what is essentially a start-up airline. It shows the size and power of IAG that they are able to organize slots at airports like Gatwick so quickly, and it is a good mix of both business and leisure destinations.

While the LEVEL brand is nothing to get excited about, if you live in Vienna this is a great time to be traveling cheaply, as Laudamotion has also recently launched from Vienna, picking up some of the ex-airberlin/NIKI planes.

As an aside, Laudamotion is possibly the silliest name for an airline I have ever heard, and as an Australian always makes me think of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8z34lhKWrQ

Surely it can’t be a coincidence that the video opens with aircraft at an airport?!

The LEVEL experience

Anyway, back to LEVEL. I am a little confused as to why they didn’t use the Vueling brand and just open another base in Vienna, but perhaps IAG realises the Vueling brand is not well regarded, so a safer option is to use the lesser known LEVEL brand.

Like their long haul flights, LEVEL short haul will be a common European low cost model, where checked baggage, seat selection, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Fortunately unlike some ultra low cost carriers, LEVEL short haul will not charge for hand luggage.

Even though flights to Gatwick are supposed to be launching this month, a quick check of FlyLevel.com does advertise LEVEL launching from Vienna, but when booking redirects to the Vueling site, offering expensive Vueling fares via Barcelona.

This suggests the LEVEL and Vueling brands will be closely linked which makes the decision not to use the Vueling brand even stranger.

Having a look at a few dates from London over the next few months it appears LEVEL flights (to London at least) have not yet been loaded. FlyBe is offering direct flights from London Southend for as low as £60 return, which is ridiculously cheap for direct summer flights on a perfectly good airline (albeit from an inconvenient airport for most people).

It will be interesting to see how LEVEL prices on popular routes – Vienna is not traditionally a cheap destination to fly to and from (that FlyBe price is a steal!).

Bottom line

More competition is always a good thing.

I’m not in any hurry to try LEVEL but if their prices are good I won’t say no. Vienna is a wonderful city I visited recently — if you live in or are traveling from Vienna it’s a great time to do so, and if you have wanted to visit Vienna keep an eye out for what I expect will be some competitive launch fares.

Do we have any readers from Vienna here, and if so, what do you make of LEVEL launching flights from there?

Comments
  1. Already booked VIE-LGW-VIE on Friday for travel in mid August for just 48€ return. Absolute steal

  2. @ Chris – oh wow – so they’ve loaded fares now? This article has been in the queue over the weekend. That’s an excellent price!

  3. Wizz Air is no longer charging for hand luggage. As of November 2017 they do allow a hand luggage sized trolley free of charge.

    However, like Ryanair, it wil be placed in the cargo if no Priority Boarding is booked.

  4. I live in Vienna and just today LEVEL announced that on July 3rd the first 50.000 tickets are sold for 1 Cent each. Thats an unbeatable launch sale. In the long run I think that competition will help lower the prices in Vienna, the Lufthansa group has to big an influence in my opinion, they are so strong that they more or less dictate the prices here.

  5. I am from Vienna and just today LEVEL announced that the first 50.000 tickets sold on July 3rd will cost 1 Cent each, which makes for an amazing launch offer. I think that in the long run the low cost boom will help lower the ticket prices because the Lufthansa group will have less market share in Vienna and wont be able to dictate the prices as much as they do today. So I am really glad that LEVEL launches its first routes this month.

  6. @alex Wow Air does, as only a personal item is allowed on board. Otherwise it’s about 40€ each way just to bring a cabin trolley onboard.

    Wizz Air did in the past, but has discontinued this strategy.

  7. Wizzair seems to have increased their allowance but Wow still does – only a small personal bag is free.

  8. More competition is not always a good thing as for example where it is backed by an oligopolistic market participant and used to drive out independent operators with less financial power.

  9. @Tam Agree totally with this. IAG are not good competition and not good for consumers. Also people be warned this is basically Vueling in disguise – I would be reluctant to fly them no matter how low the price.

  10. @James
    You didn’t tell us what airline you ended up booking with for your flight to Olbia.

  11. I too am intrigued why Level rather than Vueling.
    One possibility is that IAG will be getting rid of the Vueling name, perhaps due to the scheduling snafu last year?

    Or does Vueling, or its pronunciation in Spanish (“Buelain”?) mean something unfortunate in German?
    (Rather like the car called Nova that did not sell very well in Spain)

    It could even be a mixture – perhaps Vueling means something unfortunate in E.g. French, and in order to expand across Europe they are switching to Level?

    Personally I think using a common word as a company name is ridiculous.
    E.g. “I flew Level today?” “Do you normally fly roller-coaster style?!”

  12. I tried to book a couple of those 1 cent tickets tonight but I think I hesitate a bit to much. They vanished in less than 20 minutes. Too bad… but at least I’ve learned something.

  13. The official company registration running these flights is Vueling and all the crew etc will be from them, so I am sceptical how good they can be given the horrendous experience Vueling offers, in particular their actively offensive cabin crew. This is Vueling in all but name.

  14. I managed to buy LGW-VIE return for 0.02 euro. Website almost died and I wasn’t able to buy more tickets as payments took ages and prices of tickets started to change.

  15. It looks to me that many of your readers have a lot of experience flying on LCCs. Yet many of your blogs are about business class and first class.
    Maybe time to include blog reports on more LCCs, do you want reports from me on Larnaca to Europe ? I fly regularly Wizz, Ryan Air , EasyJet and will be looking at Level now

  16. I rarely fly LCC but for 0.02 euro can live with cattle class 😉 And Gatwick is stone throw from me. Wouldn’t bother with flights from Luton or Stansted.

    I used to fly Wizz due to good flight times but that was before they introduced fee for standard size hand luggage. Never bothered again, they change rules again and again. Never flew Ryanair and only a few times Easy Jet.

  17. Afaik, the reason why IAG is using the LEVEL brand and a different AOC is so they can avoid Vueling’s collective bargaining agreement, although reputation probably plays a part too.

  18. Is anyone else getting an access denied error when visiting the FlyLevel website? It’s so strange.

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