IAG launches a new airline in Austria with just three weeks notice!

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To give Willie Walsh and the rest of the IAG management team some credit, they don’t mess around when they want to get something done.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, announced yesterday that it is launching a new airline based in Austria.  In three weeks time.

The new airline will NOT use the Vueling branding, which is interesting.  I wonder if the huge service issues that Vueling has had in the last couple of years – primarily when Alex Cruz was running it ….. – mean that IAG feels that the brand is ‘tainted’?

The new airline will be called LEVEL.  This is, as most of you will know, the name of the start-up low-cost long-haul airline owned by IAG.  This currently operates out of Barcelona with Paris due to start imminently.

Why is IAG doing this?

You may remember that IAG was keen to buy Austrian carrier NIKI from the ashes of airberlin.  That deal fell through and Niki Lauda ended up buying back the carrier with financial support from Ryanair.

As it happens, Vueling actually had an Austrian operating certificate issued in the name of Anisec Lufthart.  This enabled it to launch LEVEL in Austria very quickly.  Legally, the low-cost LEVEL flights will be part of Vueling.

(The LEVEL flights from Paris will legally be operated by British Airways under its OpenSkies banner.  LEVEL flights from Barcelona are legally operated by Iberia.)

Fourteen destinations launched, including Gatwick

LEVEL will fly to fourteen destinations from Vienna.

It will initially use four A321 aircraft, in an all-economy 210 seat layout.  The first one, ironically, is an ex-airberlin / NIKI plane!

The first two, launching on 17th July, will be Palma Majorca and London Gatwick.

Over the following four weeks, LEVEL will add Barcelona, Malaga, Venice, Olbia, Ibiza, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Milan Malpensa, Dubrovnik, Larnaca, Alicante, Valencia and Bilbao.

In-flight service

Lead-in prices will include one item of hand baggage.

Checked baggage and in-flight food and drink will be chargeable.

Flights can be bought at flylevel.com.  If you are looking for a cheap trip to Vienna this Summer and can get to Gatwick, you might get a good deal here.

I’m intrigued to see how this works out, and even more intrigued as to how the separation between Vueling and LEVEL will work.

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Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    A couple of apostrophes missing:
    with just three weeks’ notice!
    In three weeks’ time.

    • It doesn’t need an apostrophe because they’re not actually possessive – the notice and time don’t belong to the three weeks.

      • They are however a plural noun ending in an s – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/punctuation/apostrophe

        I’m with Genghis on this one 🙂

        • Sandra says:

          +1

        • RussellH says:

          Interesting article! But I am not sure that I would always agree, despite the authority behind the article.
          I was taught only to use possessive apostrophes with living creatures, because only things that are alive can truly posess.
          A ‘week’ cannot therefore posess, and no apostrophe required.
          I am entirely with Rob, not Genghis here!
          You could alsways subscribe to the Usenet group !
          (NB I do not subscribe, but I see others elswhere who do)

      • Genghis says:
        • the real harry1 says:

          yep but there comes a point where usage usurps grammar rules – so I think ‘three weeks time’ (no apostrophe) is OK these days, same ‘the data shows’ is perfectly acceptable (as opposed to ‘the data show’), which these days sounds old school when most people would prefer to sound contemporary

          ‘focussing’ with the double S is, however, unforgivable – and brings a sneer of derision to the face of anybody in marketing or management 🙂

        • Yes, but what does the Daily Mail say on the matter? Who’s to blame for all this ‘apostrophe abuse’?

        • Don’t panic, all will be fine after Brexit. Apparently.

        • Geoff says:

          No. When Useage superceeds rules we are on a slippery slope.

          People need to be focussing on getting it right!

        • Callum says:

          Geoff – Why are you speaking modern English if you objected so strongly to the evolution of language?

      • Michael C says:

        They are “possessive” in the sense of “three weeks OF time”…and they totally need the apostrophe.
        You can see it more clearly in “one year’s time”, where “one years” would make no sense.

      • In my view the apostrophe is needed because it denotes a missing element; the full phrase would be “six weeks OF annual leave” or whatever. And usage is no reason to adopt something as it varies enormously from one country to another.

      • RussellH says:

        I put the use net group in brackets, and it has been remopved from the posting – I shall try again.
        alt.possessive.its.has.no.apostrophe

  2. Just tried to price up a flight to LGW, keep getting this:

    ‘Access Denied
    You don’t have permission to access “http://tickets.vueling.com/ScheduleSelect.aspx” on this server.’

    • the real harry1 says:

      tickets available on the Vueling platform – Vienna-Gatwick or vice versa £23

      • Geoff says:

        I wonder if these are “Opening prices” or a sign of where they will be positioned. I Notice on Vienna – Barcelona Level are cheaper than Vueling.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Definitely opening prices! but I reckon they’ll still be very cheap at times even once operations crank up properly

      • but when i tried access the Vueling website directly, the Level flights didn’t show up !

  3. LeMain says:

    “The first three, launching on 17th July, will be Palma, Majorca and London Gatwick.”

    Aren’t Palma and Majorca the same place?

  4. Phillip says:

    Yet, it directs you to the Vueling website to book… they may not mess about when it comes to getting things done, but they still manage to maintain a brand identity crisis!

    • Rob Brown says:

      It obviously takes longer to set up an booking system than an Airline!

      • it looks like the comparison websites aren’t picking up these flights yet.

        unless anybody has found one that is ?

  5. Rob Brown says:

    I would expect that the reason for using the Level brand instead of the Vueling brand has something to do with their recent strikes. Probably too much industrial action baggage which would roll over for the same brand.

    • if the reason that they’re using the Level brand rather than Vueling is the damage inflicted on the Vueling brand whilst Cruz was in charge … makes you wonder why Cruz is being kept at BA ?!

    • vlcnc says:

      Told you Vueling was toxic Rob! ???? We all know my Vueling hate, still think it is the worst airline in Europe. Given IAG’s record, I doubt this will make much of a difference to service especially as it’s basically Vueling behind the scenes. I suspect it will be part of a consolidation of brands, given considerable amount of money was spent on developing LEVEL as a brand using Brand Union, and it was set up from the outset as an international brand more.

  6. OT but no bits and flying-related. Has anyone else read about the imminent ban on having powdered items in hand luggage when flying to and within the US and Australia? I saw a piece in the media quite by chance; I’ve had no notification about it from BA or AA, with whom I have several flights booked this summer.

    Passengers will be limited to a small amount of anything in powder form, which may have quite an impact on hand-luggage only fares. Since the liquids ban came into force I travel with a fair few toiletry and food items in powder form in my carry-on, especially when I need to limit checked-in bags.

    • Also – when you go through security in the UK, how will they know what your destination is for purposes of checking powdered items?

      • Hadn’t heard about this – perhaps they’ll pick up at extra security near the gate? (as US flights already have anyway)

    • I noticed this in April when travelling from Frankfurt on Lufthansa, not to the US or the UK but on a EU flight. I handed over my liquids separately but they insisted to see the contents of my bag where they discovered my cooling powder. I was made very clear that I should know that the scanning machine would recognize this as a liquid and that I should treat it accordingly. Never had this before.

      • RussellH says:

        I was told at MAN security two years ago that I should have put my inhaler, which contains no liquid, but does have powder, in my liquids bag…

    • Do you earn TPs on vueling (any by extension LEVEL)?

      • Geoff says:

        No, You earn Avios on Vueling (Not Level unless booking through IB.com) but don’t earn Tier points in Exec Club. You can get Status with Vueling but you obviously need to fly on them a lot for that.

  7. Roger1* says:

    In a similar article, I read that taking food in hand baggage is not recommended as scanners find it difficult to differentiate between bread and explosives!

    Could this foresee a restriction on taking Boots/WHSmith meal deals on board ex LHR/LGW? Surely not!

    I’ve still to experience the offer of M&S inflight catering, or for that matter the Boots/WHSmith possibilities.

    • the real harry1 says:

      I often take frozen joints of lamb or beef (and a whole turkey at Xmas) in my hand luggage and have never had problems, sometimes they pull me out to open the bag to see what it is, but generally not. European travel but the Security staff wouldn’t know that.

      They’ve never been confused by sandwiches!

      • Gavin says:

        I have taken a butternut squash in hand luggage with me to Munich from UK before with no questions

        • Bagoly says:

          I bought a whole bunch of amaryllis (which have hollow stalks) for my wife on the street during a day trip to Amsterdam from London – the florist put a plastic bag at the bottom holding water.
          The Security Staff at AMS made no complaint – indeed they smiled broadly when I put them on the belt to go through the scanner.

        • RussellH says:

          I was pulled over at Prague for having a 45cm long 4cm wide salami in my hand baggage. I can see that it would have looked just like a large cosh on the scanner.
          The lad on security opened my bag VERY carefully, and then burst into fits of giggles.

      • Geoff says:

        Strangest look I have ever recieved was when I put through my Sky Box as hand luggage. I hadn’t even thought how it would look on the X-Ray. I was advised next time to give them a heads up before it went through but after an extra minute of checking I was on my way.

      • Do you mean sandwich’s 😉

      • Nick M says:

        My Dad came to see us on the Kent coast a while ago and took several crabs and quite a few oysters back on the Eurostar… apparently this caused great confusion at security!

        • I had trouble at T5 recently when a bottle of Hilton’s Peter Thomas Roth mouthwash (nicked from Hilton Park Lane the previous week) got the scanners VERY worried.

        • RussellH says:

          Never had any problems at Eurostar security.
          Once, returning from Aachen, at the Bruxelles Midi secuirity check I had the case I had gone out to Cologne with, plus a second overnight bag I had had to buy in Aachen, plus two umbrellas (presents) and a bag of shopping from the station supermarket. No problems at all. And I got back to London well before the rest of the group who had gone back to Koln Airport – major flight delay!
          🙂

    • Stuart_f says:

      I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to take blocks of marzipan!

      • Stu N says:

        We often buy aged Comté at Borough Market and fly back with it from Gatwick. Have learned to take it out bag and scan it separately, apparently the crystal structure of the cheese looks a lot like some plastic explosives. It’s definitely “of interest” in a bag when overlapping with a laptop and your phone charger cable…

    • We took a picnic on a flight recently – the scanner was most unhappy with the hardboiled eggs!

    • Kinkell says:

      3 of us travelling: one bought Pret, and bought Boots meal deal and I did the BoB. Boots voted best for content and value . BoB. Ugh!

      • Jenni says:

        I always get a Boots meal deal. I save my Boots points for this specific purpose.

        Except this year I happened to have so many that I could also buy the mother in law’s birthday present with them ????????

      • RussellH says:

        Yes, discovered Boots Meal Deal at NCL earlier this year. Repeated the exercise at LHR. And yes, on Advantage points seems a vastly better deal than BoB with Avios.
        🙂

    • Charlie says:

      I packed a ripe durian into my luggage, all the way from Hong Kong. My wife smelt it as we walked through Heathrow the next morning but she didn’t realise what I had done till we unpacked at home! True story!

      • ankomonkey says:

        I once brought a century egg from Hong Kong to the UK to terrorise my brother with. Maybe Hong Kong wins the ‘best souvenirs’ award.

        • the real harry1 says:

          struggling to compete with the great anecdotes, best I can offer is I took a blender out to our place in the sun quite a few years back, Security T3 got worried about whether I could potentially detach the blade and cut the trolley dolly’s neck or something (I think it was indeed detachable).

          Not wanting to get a blender with no blending blade, I marshalled the 3 kids and sort of begged with a smile and 3 little blondies as back up – all I could muster, he let me through as the world’s most unlikely terrorist 🙂

  8. Any points to be earned on Level?

    The article is silent on this aspect.

  9. xcalx says:

    OT (no bits)
    A friend flew LBA-IBZ FR2486 on 21st June. Ryanair handed passengers form stating no compensation due to tech problems of inbound flight from Poland. Is this a reasonable denial of EU 261. Any sites I could check.

    Thanks.

    • Andrew says:

      Almost certainly not (depending on the exact nature of the technical problem). Technical problems are now considered part of the normal operation of an airline (hence something they should plan for) and not ‘exceptional’.

    • the real harry1 says:

      if you’re polite about it, the guys on FT BA EC261 compo thread will discuss a Ryanair flight (even if it’s not BA)

      Agree with other poster – tech problem is not extraordinary circs – won’t be defended at MCOL, but Ryanair wouldn’t take it that far, they are just trying it on

      other criteria (such as length of delay vs distance of flight) need to be satisfied, of course – see CAA site

    • Lady London says:

      difficulties with inbound flight are not relevant. The difficulty has to be a qualifying one and it has to be affecting your flight not the aeroplane they have flying in to service your flight.

      Always take a careful note of who said what when from the airline about any reason stated for delay. It’s amazing how many reports I see on here where an excuse given at the time by the airline looked highly like it qualified you for EU261 compensation, and later the same people receive a different explanation (that mysteriously would not qualify for EU261 compensation) when contacting the airline formally later to claim.

      • Inbound flight issues are taken into account. For example a plane not arriving due to bad weather on the inbound leg would still get you compensation as the airline should have made alternative provisions (I fell a little over the top).

        I know because I’ve received the compensation half a dozen times.

        • the real harry1 says:

          that doesn’t work with many outstations where it would be unreasonable to expect the airline to have replacement aircraft available – but yes, works at eg LHR

  10. Steve R says:

    The Moneysavingexpert forum have some very clued up people on flight delays
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/forumdisplay.php?f=251

  11. OT as no bits: What’s the advice on trying to book long-haul first with a 241 with inflexible dates? Is there ever F availability at -355 ? Is it even worth trying?

    The -355 date on my honeymoon is coming up and I’m trying to get a booking strategy together. Would it be more sensible to just set my sights on CW? Would really love to try F and I don’t know when we’ll get another chance

    • Ralph Hely Hutchinson says:

      Yes, there is sometimes F availability -355. We book two F trips with a 2-4-1 voucher every year, but not on the very sought after routes. Also routes that have switched to 787-9 with small F cabin hardly seem to come up at all. We got lucky last year on MEX which used to have a daily 747 (which was the case when we booked -355), then switched to 5 x a week Dreamliner a few months later. We kept the F seats.

    • No, nothing guaranteed at 355 days. More likely to open up nearer the time. Book CW to guarantee the seats and then keep an eye on availability.

    • Londoner says:

      Book CW at -355 and keep an eye out for F availability. If seats become available you can call up BA and pay the £ 35 fee (and Avios) to change to First.

      • Ah ok! Didn’t realise it was possible to upgrade 241 bookings in this way. Great, thank you! (and thanks Rob and Ralph too)

    • Mark2 says:

      As you would expect, it depends where you want to go to.
      The last few years I have booked F at t-355 to Seattle, back from Vancouver, to Toronto, Boston return. They often start at 9+ seats in F.
      Keep watch at T-355 and see the pattern. Also BA Redemption Finder.

  12. Devin says:

    O/T

    I have 200k MR points in a US Amex that I had been saving to use on ANA to a trip to Tokyo. Unfortunately it seems the rewards seats on ANA are increasingly hard to come by, and even a year out can be difficult to find 2 return seats. Does anyone have any experience with the ANA waitlist, or know if there are specific times of the year where there is more availability? Or would I be better using these as a 241 in BA F?

  13. kudos to IAG for the Level website/branding – simple but effective. However clicking a big box that says ‘New York from $149’ brings me to a city guide about Paris .. so a few kinks to work out.

  14. OT
    Might NEED to book a flexible upper class ticket on VS in the coming days in my MBNA card. What would happen if I need to cancel it next month when my vs card closes? ????

  15. O/T as no bits … how can I as an Amex Platinum holder refer a friend to Gold? It only seems to let me refer to another Platinum?
    Thanks!

    • I seen this when I referred people from plat. Resolved by getting the referred person to open the referral link in a different browser. There should be an option on the page you get from following the referral link to change from platinum to a different card. It’s at the bottom.

      • FlyingChris says:

        If you’ve got any adblock function turned on this might also strip out the other options at the bottom of the referral page they receive.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Certain Amex plat links will only allow you to refer to another Amex plat for business card. Generate the link from the mobile app and then you get the option at the bottom to refer to other cards such as Gold, SPG, Nectar etc

  16. I wonder, is this really the “launch” of a “new” airline? No new legal entities, no new branding, no new business model, no new commercial proposition, no new positioning, no new corporate identity… It’s simply the opening of new routes, as far as I’m concerned. (Yes, with the mess of who under IAG owns the operating certificates, but still all folded in the Level label.)

    • It is only for legal reasons it goes via Vueling. You should look at the intention rather than the legal implementation.

      • Think the intention is to put the boot into Ryanair, which effectively controls Lauda.

        This is part of the – sometimes amusing, sometimes not – competition between Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh, which started in Dublin decades ago.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMH7bwdBbak is worth a couple of minutes of your time (especially if you want to know the official pronunciations for Vueling and Iberia).

      • We’ll, that’s exactly it, I’m looking beyond the legal implementation: if I’ve read you correctly, the “new” airline (operating certificate granted to one Anisec Luftfahrt) will be called Level… which already exists under the IAG umbrella. That’s why I say this looks, sounds and feels like Level opening new routes out of Austria (despite all the underlying intricacies), and not really the launch of a new airline.

  17. Darren says:

    OT Lloyds related.
    I’m still having issues with the avios transfer from Lloyds to Avios acc. It is now being completed by a manual monthly transfer by the CS rep at Lloyds and I’d imagine that this will continue when the switch to BAEC occurs.
    But they have offered a measly £25 comp, belt tightening I assume.

    Also, I have an upgrade voucher with an expiry date approaching soon, can this be used one way back to the UK and what sweet spots are there apart from Hong Kong? Thinking UAE.

    Thanks

    • Only Hong Kong and Brazil ban fuel surcharges.

      • Darren says:

        Oh well, I’ve a HKG trip booked anyway and taking in Vietnam so I was interested in the IC talk yesterday.

        Looks like I’ll loose the voucher.

        • the_real_a says:

          10k Hilton garden inn in Hanoi (embassy district) is a particular sweet spot if you need a bargain. A cheap grab/uber car from anywhere.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          There’s a 10k Garden Inn in Vienna, too, which is useful here.

    • It may work out well in the end – when my account was sorted out I got all 12,000 avios again and no less than 3 upgrade vouchers! I assume it’s because the computer system doesn’t recognise what’s been added manually and just gives you everything you’re entitled to while your avios aren’t posting.

      • Darren says:

        That’s interesting, I’ve had manual transfers for a while and transferred them all to BAEC. I wish there was a way to ‘cash in’ a voucher as I won’t use it.

  18. Concerto says:

    What will the airline code for these flights be? The same as the current one, IB?

  19. Thomas Howard says:

    When so little is included in IAG premium brands economy fares (with no change in strategy in sight), what distinguishes Level and Vueling from BA or Iberia?

  20. Massive thanks to HfP for highlighting this. I just booked my family of four for a long weekend break during the summer holidays for 160 euros. I can’t imagine these fares will last long once they can be found on Skyscanner.

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