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BA closes OpenSkies from Paris, launches LEVEL – use Avios to Martinique and Guadeloupe

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OpenSkies is a little known part of the British Airways empire.  Operating from Paris Orly, it operates two flights per day to New York Newark and New York JFK.  It was originally L’Avion, an ‘all business class’ start-up founded by the same team who went on to form La Compagnie.

OpenSkies services have always been bookable with Avios and, if you pay cash, you earn Avios and British Airways tier points.

It is a three-class service, albeit one which I always felt was badly described – the classes are Biz Bed, Prem Plus and Eco.

LEVEL launches from Paris Orly

Full details of OpenSkies can be found on here.

If you want to try it, you’ll need to get a move on.  OpenSkies is being closed next Summer.  The airline will legally continue to exist but will become a ‘front’ for the French base of LEVEL, IAG’s new low-cost transatlantic carrier.

You can find out more about LEVEL in this introductory article we wroteThe LEVEL website is here.

LEVEL currently operates out of Barcelona with four routes to Buenos Aires, San Francisco (Oakland) and Punta Cana and a summer service to Los Angeles.  A fifth route to Boston is being launched in March 2018.

It is designed to compete with Norwegian and offers low headline fares but a wide range of paid extras for everything from luggage to food.  Operated by A330 aircraft, there is no business class cabin but there are 21 Premium Economy seats on top of 293 Economy ones.

The LEVEL business model means:

you will pay for all food and drink

you will pay for all checked luggage

you will pay for seat selection (€15 for a middle seat at the back up to €68 each way for a window or aisle exit row seat)

you will pay for a blanket, pillow and / or amenity kit

you will pay for internet

you will, after an introductory period, pay for IFE

Premium Economy passengers will not pay for food and drink, seat selection, IFE or checked baggage.  You can buy more expensive economy tickets, sold as Basic+ or Optimal, which include some of the items above.  The only thing that no-one can get for free is wi-fi.

There are no status benefits.  If you have BA status, for example, you still cannot use fast track or a lounge.

LEVEL launches from Paris Orly

LEVEL is performing very well and is already profitable despite currently operating with expensive Iberia crews and infrastructure.  I am not hugely surprised by this, because Barcelona is a bit of a soft market with a large catchment area but no flag carrier operating out of it.

Paris Orly will be a bigger test of the LEVEL business model given the competition from Air France and the far wider range of other carriers operating from the city.  The choice of routes is interesting:

  • Montreal, from 2nd July (three times per week)
  • Guadeloupe, from 3rd July (four times per week)
  • Martinique, from 3rd September (three times per week)
  • New York Newark, from 4th September (four times per week)

Using Avios with LEVEL

You can earn and redeem Avios on LEVEL flights.   Your flights need to be credited to an Iberia Plus account, not a BA or account.  You will also not earn miles in any other oneworld airline programme.

For redemptions, it will price off the standard Iberia Plus redemption chart.

You can only book LEVEL redemptions via Iberia Plus.  This means you need to use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move your points from or over to Iberia Plus.  Remember that you cannot transfer Avios into Iberia Plus until your Iberia account is both 90 days old and has earned 1 Avios.

The Iberia Plus website was misbehaving yesterday and refusing to price any Avios redemptions for me, on these or any routes, so I can’t give exact numbers.

Headline cash fares are very low at the moment. As an example, a return Economy flight to Martinique next September – hand baggage only, no meals – is €216 return.  Do not dismiss an Avios redemption, however, as (assuming the Barcelona model carries over to Paris) these get free seat selection, a free hot meal and a free suitcase.  Premium Economy may also prove to be a decent deal.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (14)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    To be pedantic openskies was around before they acquired L’Avion. The original openskies products were called biz, prem+ and econ. Then when they merged in L’Avion they changed to biz bed and renamed the premium economy product to biz seat and claimed it was all business class. I seem to recall in those days the ‘biz seat’ class earned business class TP and ‘biz bed’ first class points but this could be a false memory.

  • Bob says:

    Still I cannot understand why Level mentionned Martinique and Guadeloupe as a destination, instead of Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre.
    I guess the target is mainly French customers: there are usually less than 4% of foreigners from Paris and they are coming mainly from French speaking countries.

    And Rob…
    As you write a post France centric today…
    the title should be:
    “BA closes OpenSkies from Paris, launches LEVEL – use Avios to Martinique and Guadeloupe, Johnny Hallyday passed away!”

    Well you couldn’nt know. He died this morning at 2am.
    France is under shock and sadness this morning.

    You could not use Avios or Flying Blue miles to attend its concerts: you had to pay!


    • Rob says:

      Yes, was just reading that on the tube. The article implied that I wasn’t meant to know who he was, given his French dominance.

      That said, having been force fed Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? as a kid, the death of Rodney Bewes last week was more newsworthy ……

      • Bob says:

        Good point!

        It makes me learn who Rodney Bewes was.

        It is great to see that culture is not yet fully worldwidely standardised.

    • Anna says:

      For the same reason I imagine that BA refers to Barbados and Antigua – these are much more familiar names than Bridgetown and St John’s, plus the fact that other nations have towns of the same name!

      • Bob says:

        Fair enough!

        I wish success to LEVEL.
        There will be already 4 competitors and 5 flights daily when it launches the routes to Martinique and Guadeloupe, not counting if Norwegian tries those routes.
        And there are not business routes.
        We will see how it works for LEVEL.

      • David Safir says: also insists on referring to Sardinia whether searching for flights to Cagliari or to Olbia; to Sicily whether searching for flights to Catania or to Palermo; and to Corsica rather than Figari.

    • RussellH says:

      I got the feeling that the BBC presenters this morning did not really know who Johnny Hallyday was either, pronouncing his name in English rather than French. Having spent two lots of school holidays in the 1960s in Limoges, staying with a family who had many of his records, I had a better idea of who he was than Rodney Bewes (who to me was just that other guy who once appeared with James Bolam, for whom I have alot of respect. Beiderbecke Tapes anyone?)

      • Rob says:

        Saw all the Beiderbecke stuff ….

      • Fenny says:

        How young are these BBC presenters who didn’t know who Johnny Hallyday was??? They wouldn’t have appreciated The Beiderbecke trilogy or When the Boat Comes In.

        Bob was always the under-appreciated Likely Lad.

  • Richmond says:

    I bought Level ticket last week when new routes opened but it did not ticket for a week and now have email from Iberia telling me to call them or ticket will be cancelled.

    • Roberto says:

      Its the security code they will need for the credit card. Most airline systems automatically delete that from their system after a short while.

      BA is a pain with this if you are manually upgrading flights as they often take weeks if not months to ticket ( and charge for ) the deal.

      • RussellH says:

        Had problems with this with our Avios upgrade to OAK last summer. We only found out about it when we tried to check-in on line and could not, and then it took about 20 mins on the phone to sort out.

  • Lady London says:

    Apparently Willie Walsh’s comments when announcing Level’s second base would be Paris, were how pleased IAG is with the load factor and the average revenue achieved so far from Barcelona and had exceeded targets. Also he apparently commented that Level is bringing in new customers to Level’s longhaul flights and not cannibalising Iberia’s existing business.

    I think there’s a good chance that in three or four years we may well see a decent set of competitors offering low(ish) lead-in prices (albeit paying for every option under the sun like meals drinks luggage etc.) across a variety of longhaul destinations.out of Europe. This will be a big change to the current longhaul landscape and I wonder which of the existing carriers will get squeezed? I think IAG is ahead of this trend.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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