Watch out for American Airlines buses on a road near you — at least for drivers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Fort Worth-based American Airlines has inked a deal with bus company Landline to replace some short-hop connecting flights to Philadelphia International Airport from Allentown, Pa., and Atlantic City, N.J., with bus rides.
Starting in June, the Landline buses, painted with an American Airlines logo, will pick up passengers at Lehigh International Airport in Allentown or Atlantic City International Airport and rumble down the road to Philadelphia, a major hub for American’s international connections.
Passengers will actually park at airports in Allentown or Atlantic City, check in, check luggage and go through security before loading onto one of the 35-seat buses to take them on the roughly 50-mile trip to Philadelphia. From the bus, they can go straight into the terminal as if they were transferring airplanes. Bags are transferred, too.
“For too long, travelers have been bothered by all of the ancillary parts of flying, including getting to and from the airport, parking, transporting their bags and navigating security,” said a statement from Landline CEO and co-founder David Sunde.
Landline partners with airlines such as United and Sun Country on similar trips in Colorado and Minnesota.
Putting airline passengers on a bus actually solves a tricky dilemma for American Airlines in regions where airports are densely grouped. The 50-mile trip is simply too short for a commercial flight, even on a smaller regional aircraft. At the same time, customers are often willing to drive 60 to 80 minutes to get to an airport with far more connections.
American Airlines only flies from Allentown to Charlotte and Chicago, two other big hubs for American. That would make a long trip to get somewhere such as Boston or even Pittsburgh and Cleveland. American Airlines doesn’t even fly to Atlantic City International Airport, which is only served by Spirit Airlines.
American Airlines customers can earn loyalty miles for the trip.
On the way home, the buses will take passengers back to Allentown or Atlantic City, along with their luggage.
“Customers can start and end their journey at their local airport, relax on a comfortable Landline vehicle and leave the driving to someone else while they work or start their vacation early,” said American Airlines vice president of network planning Brian Znotins in a statement.