COMING TO CALI — CHEAP AIR TO EUROPE
The fare war between upstart Norwegian Air and their European competitors is good news for California.
When Norwegian Air started offering one-way flights between the East Coast and Europe for as little as $65 a few years back, their older rivals vowed to retaliate — and now, they have.
International Airline Group, which operates British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, has announced the started of a new low-fare airline which they call Level, running brand-new Airbus A330s out of LAX and — drum roll, please — Oakland.
Eventually, they’ll be flying to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (the site of spectacularly cheap all-inclusive coast resorts) and to artsy, tasty and tango-sensuous Buenos Aires.
But their debut destination summer will be Spain. Barcelona. DETAILS
I’ve been in love with Barcelona since 2015. The weather is like San Diego. The food is like Spain. And thanks to the genius of Antoni Gaudi, the architecture is like nowhere else.
The price? One-way from OAK or LAX starts at $149, with the return a little less than four times that.
Do I have your attention yet?
The choice of OAK and LAX as departure points was not random. Level is going head-to-head with Norwegian, which is starting its own service to Barcelona from those airports in June.
Don’t you just love having choices?
There are no First or Business Class seats on these aircraft. Premium Economy is as high as they go.
The seat pitch, i.e., legroom in Economy is 30 inches, which for us taller travelers may be a bit tight for a flight lasting 10-11 hours, and is actually 1-2 inches shorter than Norwegian Air. The good news is the seat layout — 2-4-2, which means a two-seat side on both sides of the aircraft. No middle seat.
Then there’s their Premium Economy, which has its own separate cabin. Their 37-inch seat pitch is not the most generous in the air for this class of seat, but at 6’3”, even I can stretch out in that. They also promise some serious recline in your seat.
Your other perks include wider armrests, a bigger video screen and noise-cancelling headphones, one checked bag and one carry-on, advance seat selection and in-flight movies.
You also can get in-flight wifi starting at $9.65.
A random fare search on Level between Oakland and Barcelona found the cheapest outbound fare at $185, with a return fare of $434, for a total of $619. Of course, that doesn’t count all the “extras” — checking your bags, something to eat, selecting you seat, and on and on.
In other words, all the usual catches that the low-fare airlines try to get their hooks in your wallet.
At the high end, Premium Economy, the total round-trip fare came out to $1,399. For an airfare comparable to what you would pay for a regular Economy ticket from the West Coast, you get more inclusions and comfier seats.
Level will be operated by Iberia, Spain’s national flag carrier. And the tickets starting selling last week.
You can find the Level Web site at flylevel.com. Or if you want to create a complete Barcelona package, including hotel, excursions and even local guides and contacts, give us a shout at TripsbyGreg.com.