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My LEVEL Airlines Experience (EWR-ORY)

My LEVEL Airlines Experience (EWR-ORY)

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Old Apr 1, 19, 4:34 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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My LEVEL Airlines Experience (EWR-ORY)

There isn't much information on LEVEL Airlines so I want to share my recent experience flying them: EWR - ORY. I couldn't resist the one way fare of about $113 (there are plenty of seats for about $130 in the fall now) on a new A330. This was an overnight flight so that the meal is not included didn't matter. I only needed a carry on for my short 3 day weekend trip so nothing to pay extra. I refused to pay to select a seat which varied from about $12 to $75, depending on the seat location. If I had a family with me, I will probably have paid to choose but as it was only me, I didn't care. But I did not want to get stuck in the middle seat so I constantly checked the seat map and found how Level assigned its seats (this is just my observations but unless they change the programming, it would probably assigned this way). The economy section is configured 2-4-2 (AC DEGH JL).

When online check-in was available -24h, seats were getting greyed out from windows (A and L seats in the back section (rows 28 - 43) then aisle seats (C and J) then middle aisle seats (D and H) then middle middle seats (E and G). Only rows 28 - 43 were getting greyed out as I headed to the airport. In the meantime, the whole front/middle section (rows 7 - 27) was pretty much green (unassigned). So I decided to not to check-in online as I did not want to get assigned a middle seat in the back section. Now, I am in Terminal B, ground floor (this was the exact area I checked in for the very short lived Primera Air, next to the Spirit Air counters). The line was short and as it moved, I constantly checked the seat map on my phone (looks like it gets updated in real time) and saw there were still about 4 seats not assigned in the back section (E&G middle middle seats). I was afraid that I would be assigned one of those seats. As I approached the counter, I inquired if I can request an aisle seat and the lady said "no, the computer automatically generates the seats". Lo and behold, the gate agent said my seat would be a middle middle seat, 32E I think (this was one of the 4 seats that was unassinged in the back section). S*#t! I asked if there was a way I can get an aisle seat in the front section of the plane (remember all aisle seats were gone in the back section now). She said "sure you can pay". I was like no way I am paying when I see the whole forward/middle section empty. I then told the lady, do not check me in yet and I decided to move to the back of the line. I was thinking with about 20 people on the line, that those 4 back middle unassigned seats will be gone by the time I approached the counter again. And it worked! As I moved to the front of the line again, every single seat in the back section was greyed out while the entire front/middle section of the aircraft was still green. Then I was assigned 26H (middle aisle seat). I was satisfied. Those poor people who got assigned to the back section of the plane was also in the last boarding zone. The rows 28-43 was completely full. The rows 7 - 27 had scattered number of people but pretty much the entire middle DEHJ seats were empty! I quickly moved up to 24H as the row was empty. There was such a contrast between the back section and the front/middle section. I do not know why Level assigns seats this way. Isn't the plane unbalanced? Anywho, the moral of the story is, do not check in early. If the load factor is light, you will have much better experience checking in later and be assigned in the forward section of the plane. If you want to pay and be comfortable, buy a seat in the forward middle 4 seats as they will be least likely be assigned by the Level bot.

Now, the boarding process was unorganized. No one cared to check the carry on bags either at the check in counter or at the gate (although they made announcements about the strict bag policy). Just bring a water bottle, maybe some snacks, and enjoy the complimentary (limited time) movies (they had latest releases while the selection wasn't extensive) but instead of watching you should be sleeping on a 180 degree flat bed (if you get lucky by taking the whole middle row). I hope with the IAG support, LEVEL will be more financially stable and be around a while and not face the similar fate like WOW or Primera. With new aircrafts, low prices, seats that are mostly equal or better than the legacy carriers, there is no reason not to like about this experience. I will happily choose them to cross the Atlantic.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 4:39 pm
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What about rows 1-6? Is it a premium cabin or just seats with fees? How do those seats look?
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Old Apr 1, 19, 6:08 pm
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Thank you for your report. I was just looking at reserving a flight from ORY to FDF in June with Level and will use your strategy for getting better seat assignments.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 7:11 pm
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Thank you for your input. Have you tried Norwegian before on EWR-ORY? If so, how would you compare LEVEL to Norwegian?
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Old Apr 1, 19, 7:46 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
What about rows 1-6? Is it a premium cabin or just seats with fees? How do those seats look?
Rows 1 - 3 are their premium economy cabin. They look similar (identical?) to Iberia's A350 premium economy seats. They charge a large premium over the regular economy seats for them and they still make you pay 45E - 75E to select seats. I did see a sign at the check in counter that read "upgrade to premium" for $199. I didn't inquire but that might be a better deal. I didn't check out the seats but my experience with Iberia A350 premium economy was very positive.

Rows 4 - 6 are regular economy mini cabin. If the flight is full, those are probably the best economy class section. I didn't check how full it was on my flight. You can select those seats for 40E to 75E (bulkhead, they call it XL Seats). Those rows will probably get assigned the last on a fuller flight.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 8:39 pm
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Originally Posted by gab787 View Post
Thank you for your input. Have you tried Norwegian before on EWR-ORY? If so, how would you compare LEVEL to Norwegian?
Not on that sector but I flew JFK-CPH last year in economy and just flew MAD-JFK in premium cabin.
For economy, I prefer LEVEL over Norwegian because LEVEL's cloth seats were more comfortable over Norwegian's hard leather seats. While I like 787's air pressure that helps with jetlag, I think A330's 2-4-2 seating is wider than 787's 3-3-3 seating. Norwegian was very strict with the carry on bags. Norwegian's free entertainment is a plus. LEVEL I think will only offer free entertainment until June/July. I noticed that Norwegian's fares have been creeping up so it is not as attractive in economy as it used to be. Now their premium cabin...

I think is fantastic. The fare difference was only like $60 between economy and premium cabin on the MAD-JFK flight I just took so it was no brainer. The experience was premium throughout: complimentary seat selection, premium check in line, premium boarding call and the best part is the seat itself. Sure they are only recliners in 2-3-2 config. but they are large and comfortable. They provided 2 full meal services, free alcohol and drinks, etc. They provide nice blanket but no pillow. The cabin crew is friendly although their moral isn't so high b/c management is not making the right decisions. I hope they stay afloat because I really enjoyed the premium cabin experience given the very reasonable price.
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Old Apr 2, 19, 10:59 am
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The trick is - check the seat map and then once you're on-board find the empty rows in the middle that are unfilled, and take the whole row for yourself

I was offered $99-$149 upgrades on BCN SFO a few times and took them up on that offer.
Prem-Econ is more like US domestic F, except the seat may be a bit narrower, nicer than DY's prem economy.
The food ex-BCN is decent, though nothing to write home about (DY has better food in prem. econ.)

Neither Level, nor DY are super strict with carry-ons if you bypass checkin. The standard 1+1 is allowed.
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Old Apr 18, 19, 4:57 am
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> I do not know why Level assigns seats this way.

Those front seats are the ones you have to pay extra to choose. They don't give them away for free until there are no worse ones left.
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Old Apr 19, 19, 2:49 am
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The logic of charging for seats only works if passengers think they will get a rubbish seat if they don’t pay. The method you describe will only work as long as hardly anybody pays and the flights are full enough to fill the whole rear section before you check in.
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