American adds 2 new routes from Philadelphia — operated by a bus

Apr 7, 2022

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American Airlines will soon “land” in two Northeast cities, but the new routes won’t be operated by a plane.

Instead, the carrier announced on Thursday that it’s partnering with ground transportation provider Landline to offer bus connections between its hub at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and both Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) in New Jersey beginning on June 3. The news was first reported by Airline Weekly.

Travelers headed to or from Allentown or Atlantic City will be able to book connecting itineraries through American, which will include a segment operated by a Landline bus.

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If you’re beginning your journey in either Allentown or Atlantic City, you’ll arrive at the airport and check in with American. Your checked bags will be tagged and collected, and you’ll clear security there.

But, instead of walking down the jet bridge to board a flight, there’ll be a Landline bus, wrapped in American’s livery, waiting to whisk you off to Philadelphia.

During the drive, you can enjoy one of the 35 leather seats, complimentary Wi-Fi, streaming entertainment and power at each seat.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Upon arrival in Philadelphia, the bus will pull up airside (past security) and you’ll disembark into the terminal. Your checked bags will be automatically transferred to your connecting flight, and you won’t need to reclear security.

On the other hand, if your journey ends in either Allentown or Atlantic City, you’ll land in Philadelphia, and then follow signs for a dedicated bus gate from which the Landline vehicle will depart. Once again, your checked bags will be automatically transferred.

Tickets for these air-and-bus itineraries will be available for sale beginning on April 11. Landline will operate two daily round trips between Allentown and Philly (blocked at 90 minutes each way), and three daily services between Atlantic City and Philadelphia (blocked at an hour each way).

Itineraries that include bus segments operated by Landline will be eligible for AAdvantage mileage and Loyalty Points accrual.

“Our partnership with Landline is one more way we’re making it easy for customers to connect to American’s premier trans-Atlantic gateway in Philadelphia,” said Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning.

While this partnership is new for American, it’s not Landline’s first time working with an airline. In fact, the bus company partners with both United and Sun Country.

United offers bus services between its Denver hub and both Fort Collins and Breckenridge in Colorado. Shortly after United launched its tie-up last March, I had the opportunity to try the service myself. It was seamless, and my skis and checked bags arrived in the mountains on time and in perfect condition. The bus driver was also quite friendly, but it likely didn’t hurt that I was the only passenger headed to Breckenridge that day.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While I haven’t tried Sun Country’s Landline partnership, it’s seemingly performing well — the carrier recently expanded its ground transportation offerings in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, for American, offering a Landline shuttle to Allentown and Atlantic City likely makes more economic sense than sending a regional jet to either city. (American last operated flights between Philly and Allentown in May 2020, before cutting them entirely due to the pandemic, Cirium schedules show.)

Related: Reviewing United’s bus service between Denver and Breckenridge

For one, you only need one bus driver to operate the ground transportation service, compared to two pilots and at least one flight attendant for a plane. Plus, with an industrywide pilot shortage, carriers have been forced to slash their regional connectivity to prioritize the markets that matter most.

In this case, Landline offers a great, lower-cost alternative to a regional jet.

Plus, the provider has solved one of the biggest hiccups with the end-to-end travel experience with its American partnership. Instead of needing to clear security in Philly, the entire journey will operate airside, pending regulatory approval.

Assuming that Landline gets the necessary permissions it needs, this will be a major win for its offering. When I tested United’s bus service, I needed to clear security when I arrived in Denver, even though I “checked in” when I departed Breckenridge. Hopefully, the provider is laying the groundwork to expand the airside transfer option to all of its existing and future routes.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As part of the news, Landline announced that it has closed a $28 million investment, bringing its total funds raised to $38 million to date.

The company promises that it’s working to expand. “Future services, with regulatory approval, will connect industrial parks, corporate campuses, cruise ports and other convenient locations,” Landline said in its press release.

Featured photo courtesy of American Airlines.

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