American Airlines Will Now Let Passengers Do This, Starting Tomorrow
It's an unorthodox move under strained market conditions.
Around the aviation industry, a pilot shortage continues to cause service disruptions—and even potentially dangerous cabin conditions. The Regional Airline Association recently estimated that half of all the pilots in this country are set to retire in the next 15 years, and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement that pilots retire once they reach 65 years old was already set to impact the industry—a problem that only accelerated when pilots took early retirement packages early in the pandemic. Read on to find out how the latest ripple from the pilot shortage could affect your next trip.
In April, airlines announced they would replace some shorter domestic routes with bus service.
As a result of the pilot shortage, especially at a regional level, some carriers are attempting to mitigate the impact with a rather unconventional method. Back in April, both United and American began replacing certain routes with buses instead of planes. The two airlines signed contracts with Landline Co., a Colorado-based bus transit service, to transport passengers and their bags on some shorter domestic routes.
American Airlines' regional bus service rolls out this week.
And now it's time to see how those bus rides work in the real world. American's new buses operated with Landline roll out this week. The service will operate between American's hub at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and three nearby regional airports. These include Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Lancaster Airport (LNS) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and the beach and gambling destination of Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) in New Jersey.
Travelers on these routes can book their journeys with connecting itineraries that include a bus segment. Service to Allentown and Atlantic City begins on June 3, according to The Points Guy, which also has early photos of the brand new buses. The vehicle is wrapped in vibrant blue and branded with a huge American logo, though there's no disguising it as, well, a bus.
American is set to complete its bus service rollout near the end of the summer travel season,
Although the Allentown and Atlantic City bus routes roll out this week, it will be nearly two more months before the Lancaster service bows. That bus route is set to kick off on Aug. 16.
American's new regional buses offer free Wi-Fi, streaming entertainment, power at each seat, and a bathroom.
The Points Guy's intel on the new bus includes a robust description of what appears to be a rather comfortable—even plush—ride. Inside are 35 seats arranged in a one-by-two configuration. There's ample room for each passenger (far more than a typical airplane seat would offer). Plus, there's Wi-Fi (included in the fare price), streaming entertainment, and power in each seat. There's also a bathroom at the back of the bus, adjacent to a mini-fridge and bar area.
For passengers traveling this way, luggage will be automatically transferred to connecting flights, and there will be no need to pass through another security checkpoint.
Although the nontraditional swap of buses for planes might alleviate American's pilot shortage for certain regional routes, the issue remains one of many the industry faces. As a way to help reduce the strain, various airlines have announced they'd be cutting their schedules—even as demand soars—to build some slack into their operations in the hopes of avoiding more mass cancellations.