Level air­line is now the world’s bud­get cham­pion

Journal Pioneer - - DESTINATIONS - BY ARTHUR FROMMER Arthur Frommer is the pi­o­neer­ing founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book se­ries. He co-hosts the ra­dio pro­gram, The Travel Show, with his travel cor­re­spon­dent daugh­ter Pauline Frommer. Find more des­ti­na­tions on­line and read Arthur Fr

If you were to ask even a wellinformed travel pro­fes­sional to name the cheap­est air­line fly­ing the At­lantic, he or she un­doubt­edly would an­swer: Nor­we­gian Air­lines.

And that per­son would be dead wrong. The cheap­est such air­line is Level, a joint en­ter­prise of Bri­tish Air­ways and Ibe­ria Air­lines. It flies mainly from Paris and Barcelona, Spain, to Ne­wark, New Jer­sey, Bos­ton and San Fran­cisco for a ba­sic fare — hold your breath! — of only $300 or $350 round trip be­tween Ne­wark/Bos­ton and Paris/Barcelona, and for only $366 round-trip air­fare be­tween Paris/Barcelona and San Fran­cisco.

I am not mak­ing this up. Just re­cently, a rel­a­tive of mine and her boyfriend — both res­i­dents of Paris — used Level to fly round trip be­tween Paris and Ne­wark for a cost of the euro equiv­a­lent of $350 per per­son. To pay that lit­tle, they took no bag­gage other than the small overnight cases that could fit into an over­head rack, and they ate no air­line-pro­vided meals (con­tent­ing them­selves with home­made sand­wiches brought aboard).

As you can imag­ine, Level charges higher-than-usual fees for checked bag­gage, seat se­lec­tion, in-flight meals, Wi-Fi and other “op­tions.”

De­spite the as­ton­ish­ingly low price, the plane was half empty (re­flect­ing a lack of ad­ver­tis­ing to date), and each of them stretched over four seats to sleep.

Level air­line, as best I can dis­cover, is the brain­child of Willie Walsh, CEO of Bri­tish Air­ways, and his coun­ter­part at Ibe­ria Air­lines.

The planes used for Level are ex­cel­lent air­craft staffed by Bri­tish per­son­nel, and the flights them­selves are ab­so­lutely nor­mal.

The air­line be­gan fly­ing in 2017 and ex­panded its des­ti­na­tions to in­clude Ne­wark and San Fran­cisco in Septem­ber 2018.

Level’s Eu­ro­pean gate­ways are mainly Paris, Barcelona and Vi­enna. Sur­pris­ingly, it does not fly to or from Lon­don, but it does fly heav­ily to and from Paris (Orly Air­port). Whether Level will con­tinue fly­ing in win­ter is not yet known, but I know of no rea­son it shouldn’t.

If you’d like to be the bestin­formed travel maven of your com­mu­nity, learn more about Level air­line from the ma­te­rial on the in­ter­net, and then use it for your next trip to Europe and pay the un­heard-of price of only $300 or $350 round trip.

Just don’t bring a nor­mal­sized suit­case or you’ll pay for the priv­i­lege. And do bring a few sand­wiches pre­pared at home.

MIKE MCBEY/FLICKR

Level air­line pro­vides cut-price flights.

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