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Considering IB Plus award booking on LEVEL-Vueling

Considering IB Plus award booking on LEVEL-Vueling

Old Jan 7, 19, 9:50 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2001
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Considering IB Plus award booking on LEVEL-Vueling

I’m expecting the 50K opening bonus for the Chase IB Visa card in the next few days, and I’m wondering if it’s a good use of Avios to book BOS-FCO for two people on a LEVEL-Vueling combination with Avios and money at 25K Avios + nearly 700 USD per person, in Premium on Level. This would be in September. On the IB site, it’s confusing what the change/cancellation rules are for an itinerary combining the two airlines: basically Vueling shows change and refund not permitted, so what happens to an itinerary where the longer flights show possibly more flexible rules?

There are things happening at home that make me hesitate to book with certainty a September trip. This board can’t help much with the effect of home matters, but I’ll put these questions out:

Even if the award site says “2 final places,” with some flexibility in travel dates do you still think we can find places a few months from now?

I understand that Premium on Level is a slightly better form of Economy, but if I’m looking at search results correctly, it seems to be a better deal on an Avios booking than regular Economy on IB flights. Does this seem worth $1400 for two, plus nearly all my Avios?

I’ve generally gone by the rule to book awards early, but wait until later for paid bookings. I’ve thought of this as a trip that would mix the two, such as one person on an award, the other paid, or one way on an award. I’ve thought of going one way on the Norwegian non-stop, but see stories about doubts about their future, and don’t know when we can be certain that they’ll operate. Do Level’s operations look secure?

I’m uncertain about just booking this and being done with it, or watching for paid tickets on any airline that could be in the same range as the paid portion of this, saving the Avios for a future trip when another bonus will take me over 85K, and I can add points from Chase and Amex.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 5:26 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Barcelona, London, on a plane
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Only the Vueling element would be non-refundable.

Only you can really judge whether $1400 + Avios works for you. I'm surprised it's that expensive, since a return Business Class USA-MAD reward should only cost $300 or so. Are you using Avios & Money or something?
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Old Jan 8, 19, 8:40 am
  #3  
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Yes, as I said, Avios and Money based on the number of Avios I'll have. The full use of Avios for two on that itinerary would be 140K + $484.82. I could ease the monetary part by transferring points from Amex or Chase UR; not sure if that's the best use.
How is it determined how much of this is for the Vueling element?
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Old Jan 8, 19, 10:05 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
Yes, as I said, Avios and Money based on the number of Avios I'll have. The full use of Avios for two on that itinerary would be 140K + $484.82. I could ease the monetary part by transferring points from Amex or Chase UR; not sure if that's the best use.
How is it determined how much of this is for the Vueling element?
Are you flying BOS-BCN-FCO? Try pricing BOS-BCN and BCN-FCO separately. Then you'll see the Vueling cost. I would guess it's 2000-7000 Avios each depending on which Avios & Money price you selected.

To decide whether you should transfer more points, figure out how much IB is charging you to for the difference in points. Below is a sample flight cost,
  • 5,000 Avios + $ 32.39
  • 4,500 Avios + $ 37.39
  • 3,500 Avios + $ 42.39
  • 2,750 Avios + $ 52.39
  • 2,000 Avios + $ 62.39
  • 1,250 Avios + $ 72.39
In this case, start with the 5000 point option. IB will let you spend $30 more for the 2000 point option, so they're effectively charging you 1 cent per point. That is not bad, so spending more cash might be better depending your point of view and how many points you have to burn.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 10:51 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
Are you flying BOS-BCN-FCO? Try pricing BOS-BCN and BCN-FCO separately. Then you'll see the Vueling cost. I would guess it's 2000-7000 Avios each depending on which Avios & Money price you selected.

To decide whether you should transfer more points, figure out how much IB is charging you to for the difference in points. Below is a sample flight cost,
  • 5,000 Avios + $ 32.39
  • 4,500 Avios + $ 37.39
  • 3,500 Avios + $ 42.39
  • 2,750 Avios + $ 52.39
  • 2,000 Avios + $ 62.39
  • 1,250 Avios + $ 72.39
In this case, start with the 5000 point option. IB will let you spend $30 more for the 2000 point option, so they're effectively charging you 1 cent per point. That is not bad, so spending more cash might be better depending your point of view and how many points you have to burn.
All kinds of weird things happen when you combine two routes, as the surcharges should come from the cash fare (if there is one) posted for BOS-BCN-FCO.

I think you're making that point, but there's no guarantee that BOS-BCN-FCO is going to price at the sum of BOS-BCN and BCN-FCO, especially when you start playing around with Avios & Money.

The Avios part is pretty clear. 5000 Avios per person each way BCN-FCO.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 1:02 pm
  #6  
 
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That's probably true. I thought he just wanted an idea of what he'd lose if the short leg is not refunded.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 8:46 pm
  #7  
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Thanks, and what can people say about the reliability of Level service? It may be impossible to say, but can we expect to find Premium seats for flexible September dates if we wait a month or two?
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Old Jan 10, 19, 1:04 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
Thanks, and what can people say about the reliability of Level service? It may be impossible to say, but can we expect to find Premium seats for flexible September dates if we wait a month or two?
Hard to say. September is after the summer US --> Europe holiday season and also later than when most Spaniards return to work after their August holidays. But it doesn't seem to me that you are getting such a big bargain that you can't wait and see whether a good fare sale / error comes along.

Service? It's a low cost carrier! Maybe a blogger has written up a review, but my impression is that you get a better seat and more included elements, but that the service isn't all that thrilling.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 8:59 am
  #9  
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What I meant with "reliability of service" was "Will they operate?". I know there are sometimes bad stories about LCCs with small fleets, and this airline may be new enough that there isn't a lot reported. And maybe, if on an IB Plus award, we could hope for some protection on regular IB flights, but what I see about IB customer service isn't the best.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 9:03 am
  #10  
 
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Level to BCN is just a paintjob on an IB flight. That means if things go pear shaped, IB is able to do a pretty good job of subbing in an aircraft if they need to.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 9:11 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
What I meant with "reliability of service" was "Will they operate?". I know there are sometimes bad stories about LCCs with small fleets, and this airline may be new enough that there isn't a lot reported. And maybe, if on an IB Plus award, we could hope for some protection on regular IB flights, but what I see about IB customer service isn't the best.
If something went wrong you would be put on a BOS-MAD-FCO or a BOS-LHR-FCO which you would probably prefer anyhow. As LEVEL is a European airline you would be entitled to EU261 compensation as well.
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Old Feb 14, 19, 1:52 pm
  #12  
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Bringing this thread up: I went ahead and made the booking. After bringing my balance up with an Amex transfer, Premium Economy was $600 per person in a money plus Avios booking. When I attempt to do seat assignments, it takes me in circles and indicates I need to call. Will I indeed need to call the center with its bad reputation, or can I select seats online when it's fully ticketed? Will there be a charge for seat assignments, and about what amount for the TATL LEVEL segments? Can we get seat assignments on Vueling before T-24 or whenever?
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Old Feb 20, 19, 1:43 pm
  #13  
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Since I didn't get an answer here or from a direct Twitter message to IB, I called and it went o.k.: for the record, they first said that seat assignments in row 1 would have a charge, but not in rows 2 or 3, then he found that row 1 didn't have a charge; I'm not sure if it was because it was an award or because my wife asks for disability assistance.

He said that Vueling seats would need to be arranged separately; on the VY site, the booking couldn't be found, either in conjunction with my email or the airport codes, with the 6-character PNR the IB agent gave as the VY code, the 6-character IB code, or what's on the email confirming the seats: IB-slash-5 characters, with or without the IB/. I saw one thread here that somewhat indicates the problem, but not the solution. I'll ask here if there's an easy solution, and I see an online contact form with VY. I don't care all that much about seat assignments for the shorter flights, but it would be good not to find on the travel date that VY has no record of us.
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