Travelers Say New Budget Airline Left Them Stranded After Selling Flights That Didn't Exist
Arriving at the airport and finding out that your flight has been canceled or delayed is a major frustration. Arriving at the airport and finding out that your flight doesn’t even exist is a completely different issue.
According to ABC News, one-year-old budget airline Level has been throwing travelers through a loop with slews of last-minute cancellations and sales of non-existent flights on its website as well as booking websites like Expedia and Iberia.com.
Travel writer Erin Levi was one such customer. She booked a remarkably cheap ticket (about $179) from Newark to Paris on Level for Sept. 9. But when she got to the airport, she found out the airline had postponed the launch of their international flights to Sept. 18, meaning her ticket was completely invalid.
To make matters worse, Levi says she was never notified of this change.
“I've traveled to over 40 countries — even on a handwritten ticket to Uzbekistan — and this has never happened before,” Levi told ABC News. Even though she was given a number for customer service by a British Airways agent (both airlines are owned by International Airlines Group), Levi still had to book herself a more expensive ticket on WOW Air (about $320) to get to a friend’s wedding.
Hugo Trac, Level’s communications and marketing manager, wrote in an email to ABC News: “Indeed, on August 20th, we took the prudent decision to postpone by two weeks the launch of our operations between Paris and New York, planned for September 4th, for operational reasons. Customers impacted by this launch delay have been alerted by email, sent to [the] address registered in their booking (or to the travel agency that did the booking)."
However, no information about the delayed launch was found on the company's website.
According to ABC News, many customers have experienced similar issues with Level. While some did receive messages warning of canceled flights, many have complained about getting the messages too late.
One customer told ABC News that he got an email 15 days before his flight from Paris to New York, but it went to junk mail, forcing him to make another last-minute and more expensive booking on another airline once he saw it. Another customer said they were told the flight was canceled an hour after the flight had already boarded. Some customers said they have even been left stranded for several days while figuring out new bookings. Many complained about having to “jump through hoops” to get refunds.
But reps for Level maintain that the airline has been communicative with customers about these issues.
“We applied the same process in terms of passengers' option[s] for both Newark and Martinique. An email has been sent to [the] passenger's email address filed in the booking details (or email [for] travel agencies if booking [was] done by them, as they are in charge of advising their clients). In communications sent to clients, [it] was mentioned that customers who purchased through a travel agency should claim a refund through the agency directly; customers who purchased through Iberia.com should contact Iberia for a refund and customers who purchased on flylevel.com claim a refund from Level directly. Our customer service is dealing with each request and every client will get an answer from our service,” Trac told ABC News.
Level reps emphasized that the launch was delayed in order to sort out schedules, an understandable decision, but most customers seem to agree that some notification on its website would also have been appreciated.