Finally, like a flight: American improves Landline bus connections via Philadelphia

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American Airlines is eliminating one of the biggest pain points for customers connecting from two of its smaller East Coast destinations.

Passengers making Landline bus connections from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, will no longer need to clear security in Philadelphia. Instead, they can go through security at the start of their journey and stay “airside” through their connection.

Landline, a bus service that sells “connections” on behalf of American from Allentown and Atlantic City, began arriving inside the secure side of Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) terminal Tuesday.

Previously, Landline passengers from those cities had to go through airport security twice when connecting to American flights at PHL — once at the original airport and again after arriving at PHL.

Landline’s bus rides are meant to function as though they’re connecting flights to PHL, which is a hub for American. All airlines fly a number of short routes from their busiest hubs. However, some especially short routes — like AA’s flights between PHL and Allentown and Atlantic City that are each a little over 60 miles — can be a tough sell for customers who can just drive to the airport.

The Landline bus option offers a cheaper option for the airline to fly such routes while offering customers a connecting experience that doesn’t involve worrying about on-time or canceled flights.  

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Gerardo Spero, the Transportation Security Administration’s federal security director for Philadelphia International Airport, said the agency implemented security protocols for the buses and airline personnel to allow for seamless connections.  

“This program streamlines the passenger experience and enables travelers to seamlessly travel out of a large international airport conveniently by going through our security screening process from a smaller international airport,” Spero said in a statement.

The move is welcome news for Allentown and Atlantic City Landline customers. However, those making Landline connections from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, won’t be as lucky. Passengers departing from Lancaster Airport (LNS) via AA’s Landline connection will still need to go through security twice.

American isn’t alone in looking at the possibility of bus connections for some of its shorter feeder routes.

Landline also runs services to Denver International Airport (DEN) for United Airlines and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) for Sun Country Airlines.

For American, the elimination of a second security screening for passengers flying from Allentown and Atlantic City will make the Landline connections more in line with a regular flight connection — likely increasing passengers’ willingness to book such an itinerary when connecting through the carrier’s PHL hub.

For the airline, that will help increase feed for its connecting flights there. For the smaller airports like Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) and Allentown’s Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), the unconventional link to PHL will likely be a welcome one, as the airports have been caught up in a broader trend that has seen big airlines slash flights in many of their smallest markets.

Aside from American’s Landline-operated bus service to PHL, ACY is served by just one carrier: ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines. At ABE, American’s landline bus service to PHL will complement its existing service to its hub in Charlotte, the carrier’s second-busiest. ABE is also served by Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Since American partnered with Landline in 2021, PHL CEO Atif Saeed said Landline has already transported thousands of passengers to domestic and international flights in Philadelphia.

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