American Airlines Bus
American Airlines Buses Parked at F Concourse (PHL) waiting to board passengers airside at gate F8.

If you’re flying American to or from a regional airport near Philadelphia, your next plane may look slightly different. Namely, there will be a single pilot and wheels that don’t retract after takeoff. In fact, your connecting partner may not be a plane at all, thanks to Landline. Welcome to a new “flight experience” and the American Airlines Bus.

American Airlines Bus
American Airlines Bus Boarding Gate F8 (PHL)

“Your Bus is Boarding at Gate F8”

Following in the footsteps of United and Sun Country, American Airlines has linked up with Landline, a bus service that provides “last-mile” service for passengers to regional airports. American started “connections” to Atlantic City (ACY) and Allentown/Bethlehem (ABE) in June and added Lancaster (LNS), an essential air service city, in mid-August.

American Airlines Bus Boarding Pass
This is really a boarding pass for a bus! Seats are assigned in a 1-2 configuration.

Why a Bus Might Be Better

While your first reaction might be one of disdain, for these routes, the buses could be a great alternative.

The American Airlines Bus

The major advantage, of course, is that the bus is simply a cheaper method of transportation. On thin routes such as these, where travel can vary widely based on the season or even the day of the week, it makes little sense for the airlines to offer significant capacity. Bussing is much less expensive than a regional jet and will lead to lower costs and better accessibility.

The buses are likely to be a far more comfortable way of reaching these destinations, which are 60-80 miles from the city. These aren’t school buses. You’ll have leather seats configured 1-2, free Wi-Fi, and power at your seat. Travel time ranges from just over an hour (Atlantic City) to about two hours (Lancaster).

Boarding and Connections are Simple

The process is virtually the same as it would be for any other connecting flight at Philadelphia Airport (PHL). You will even have a boarding pass that looks exactly like any other “flight” boarding pass. The buses depart airside at Philadelphia from the F concourse.

Since the buses depart airside, you can even visit the Admirals Club or your favorite lounge on the way to your (bus) gate. Your checked bags will be transferred from your connecting flight to the bus.

American Airlines Bus
Bus at ACY (Atlantic City International Airport)

If you’re traveling from one of the three airports to Philadelphia, just show up at your home airport and board your bus. American will take your bags and, if necessary, transfer them in Philadelphia to your connecting flight. Depending on what regional city you depart from, you might be dropped at the PHL F concourse and have to clear security before going to your connecting gate.

The ultimate goal is for buses to also arrive at Philadelphia Airport airside, but that approval which depends on the security coordination at regional airports, is about a month or so away.

It may sound strange to book a flight on American to take a bus ride, but in a world where pilots are scarce, and oil prices are high, it’s an idea that could “take off.”

Michael Trager

Michael is currently back in the USA after residing in London and Amsterdam for the past eight years. His newest venture is TravelZork Travel which focuses on luxury and casino destinations, with a unique...

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  1. Amtrak (train) has had bus connections called Thursday for a long time. So this isn’t some “rocket science” for airlines to be getting it out now for a little bit of regional last mile connectivity. Have they tried a bus between EWR and JFK yet, or do people have to get their own connections still?

  2. I saw one of those bus connections in Manama, Bahrain and it went to the city in Saudi Arabia on the other side of the causeway Daman I think it’s called.

  3. Title leads you to think this is just American. Delta and United are allowing their regional carriers to do this as well. I would be upset to by an air ticket and get bussed. I could rent a car myself and call it good. I have been PP for a number of years with AA and have my complaints but I have also been satisfied.

  4. I seen some nice awards from ACY that don’t even show up from PHL sometimes with AA. ACY to PPT 40k miles, ACY to ORD 6k miles. ACY to LAX 11k miles. BA charges more Avios for ACY, I guess they treat the bus as a stop.

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