Landline Overcomes Its Biggest Hurdle on American Flights


From an air service perspective, small cities are screwed. To keep them connected to the rest of the network, we need to do something different. Landline has been working on that premise for a few years now by offering buses to replace airplanes, but it was never going to truly succeed until that bus could operate nearly the same as an airplane. Yesterday, that finally happened on the “flights” that operate for American.

The numbers are staggering. More than 30 small airports in the Continental US have lost service entirely compared to 10 years ago, 20 of those since the pandemic began. But in those 10 years, it’s not all about how many airports have lost service entirely, but how many have lost individual airlines. United abandoned 39, Delta ditched 20, and American pulled out of 14.

The bleeding is real, and it’s thanks to a whole host of issues ranging from long-ago FAA rule changes for 19-seat aircraft that made those airplanes more difficult and expensive to operate, through the requirement for all pilots on those planes to have 1,500 hours of flight time (with few exceptions), and most recently American’s move to spike regional pilot salaries (which others had to follow to varying extents). This has combined to put another nail in the coffin. It’s nearly impossible to fly to small cities with small airplanes profitably.

The basic idea that Landline had was simple and not new. The company would replace small airplanes with buses and slap a flight number on them. But the difference between Landline and others was that it fully believed that a bus had to operate as closely as possible to how an airplane operated for this to work. And it was willing to put in the considerable effort to make that happen.

The first hurdles were cleared awhile back. Landline was able to get its partners at Sun Country, United, and American to put these buses in reservation systems with flight numbers. That means that they could be sold on a single ticket, and if the bus was late, the airline would reaccommodate travelers. Later, the baggage issue was solved as the company figured out how to check bags through to the final destination.

This was a start, but the big issue was security clearance for passengers. Landline could park a bus behind security and take passengers off arriving flights to connect them to other destinations, but it couldn’t do the same in reverse. Travelers had to take the bus from their origin and get dropped off at the curb at the big hub airport, going through security there and adding more uncertainty to the process. As of yesterday, that has changed.

The big development this week is that Landline is now officially cleared to operate behind security on its American operation between Philly and both Atlantic City and Allentown. This is a monumental achievement since it required getting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to actually allow it.

Now, passengers on those “flights” go through security in Atlantic City and Allentown at their regular airport security checkpoints. They then board the bus and are dropped off at a gate behind security, making it an easy connection just as if a traveler was coming off an airplane.

Though this was always in Landline’s original vision, it has taken years to get here. The hard part for the TSA wasn’t the screening piece. There are already checkpoints at those airports so it doesn’t require extra staffing. The issue is in getting TSA comfortable that Landline could ensure that the bus remains secure throughout its journey.

Unlike an airplane, a bus can stop anywhere. If the door opens anywhere along the way, security can’t be guaranteed. Heck, it’s a bus. Even opening the windows could be problematic. Thanks to the checked bag program Landline had already been using seals to prove that doors did not open during a journey. Building on that further, there is now active tracking for both the TSA and Landline to be able to see where the buses are at any given point. Combine this with a detailed training program for the driver to ensure security isn’t breached, and TSA was finally ready to give it a go for passengers.

This TSA process is for American to use with Landline service. If other airlines want to participate, they will have to go through the same process with TSA to get approved. I have to imagine that the work for a future airline will be far less than it was for American as the pioneer, so kudos to American for pushing on this.

In the long run, this development should open more opportunities to help replace small city air service but still keep them connected in the network. When I spoke with United’s head of network planning Patrick Quayle, he told me that it has to be pretty close to the hub for it to work. So, here is a look at some cities that are within 2 hours of various hubs, just to give you an idea.

Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

This is really just the beginning. The easy part is going into a place where there is already a security checkpoint. But what about all those places that aren’t airports? The next step could be convention centers, sports stadiums, malls… you name it. It won’t be easy getting TSA to set up shop in these types of places — they have budgetary and staffing issues just to start — but it would make it even easier for travelers to opt into these types of services if they were in places where people want to be instead of at the airport. And it would help relieve congestion at a hub airport landside as an added bonus.

We’ll see where the future takes us on this, but getting TSA to play nicely is a really important milestone.

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77 comments on “Landline Overcomes Its Biggest Hurdle on American Flights

  1. The map is…interesting. I’m not familiar with all the hubs, but I’d love to know what bus can make EYW-MIA and SAT/AUS-IAH in under 2 hours.

    1. Well, you can thank ChatGPT for any issues. I just asked it to give me airports within a 2 hour drive. I would urge everyone not to get stuck in the weeds on which cities are perfectly under 2 hours and which aren’t. It doesn’t matter. It was just for demonstrative purposes.

  2. Who came up with your definition of 2 hours? PDX-SEA? INP. TWF/IDA-SLC? ASE-DEN? I could go on but you get the point.

    TSA also makes things needlessly difficult. The point doesn’t have to be to make it zero possibility that something can’t slip through the cracks. It needs to be that the possibility is small enough that no bad actor can count on it working. if its 95% reliable that it won’t work that is almost certainly good enough because it means that path is effectively closed. You cannot plan an attack based on something that probably won’t work.

    There is chatter today that TSA wants to start checking IDs for 100% of Clear passengers because one person somewhere got through without an accurate ID check. WTF? Either Clear biometrics are reliable and trusted or get rid of Clear. But if there was one infinitesimally small failure, don’t junk the whole system.

    1. Landline has never been 2 hours or less. They do try to be 3 hours or less. There are currently 2 routes in Minnesota, DLH and FAR to MSP(Technically ND) that are longer than 2 hours.

    2. I’d be fine with the “get rid of Clear” option; the system as it exists today never made any sense to me. I don’t see why there has to be an elaborate ID verification system that overlaps what the TSA does. Why not just ditch the iris-scanning, several employees, etc., and just have one bored person scanning cards or phones (for people that have paid the fee, or had the requisite FF status, or whatever), and then those pax skip to the front?

      1. Sorry, are you talking about Clear now, or Landline? You make some interesting proposals, but this blogpost didn’t discuss Clear in any way.

    3. As soon as one person figures out how to subvert and circumvent the bus “security,” this option will be ended. 9/11 NEVER FORGET

      1. 9/11 has already brought 2 important security reforms in the air, regardless of whether a security mistake is made on the ground.

        Cockpit doors have been hardened, and cockpit access procedures have been changed, so it is now harder for a hijacker to get into an airline cockpit.

        Passengers and crew members are less tolerant of hijackers, starting with United Airlines Flight 91 on September 11th. They will not let most hijackings occur any longer.

  3. This is a FANTASTIC idea and I’m happy to see it’s coming to fruition in a limited manner so that hopefully the concept can be proven and used on a much wider basis.

    I love a potential route map as much as the next avgeek so I’m not going to quibble with some of the choices. However, thinking of specific destinations I would add and delete helped me reconsider the value proposition. And it relies on what I’ll call the “hassle” factor.

    Consider two trips of nearly identical mileage that I’ve done many times.

    1).STS-SFO – not on your map but probably should be. 75 miles. I would do this EVERY time to avoid the hassle of a rental car at SFO, driving through the city to get to the Golden Gate, etc.

    2) TOL-DTW – 70 miles. Other than the rental cars being in another county from the terminal, it is much easier to rent a car in DTW and drive to Toledo. I would NEVER consider the landline option here.

    3) DEN to the ski resort airports – this is going to be a lot longer, in time and distance, e.g., EGE is 155 miles and it’s probably the closest and easiest to get to as it’s right off 70.

    However, because of the significant “hassle factor” of renting a car, driving through the pass (which is precarious in winter), toting bags and equipment, etc., I don’t care how long the landside connection took, I would use it just for the insurance of being rebooked if we got stuck in traffic, if the pass was closed, etc.

    I know this is all anecdata and specific to me but I wonder if others will consider the “hassle factor” value proposition. It convinced me that landside won’t be for everybody but could become an essential link between the right city pairs.

    1. My “hassle factor” criterion even made me rethink one pair I was very quickly going to eliminate – EYW to MIA. In fact, the worse the traffic, the greater utility for landside. I’ll be sitting in it whether I’m on a bus or in a rental car. Again the HUGE difference is with landside, I’m rebooked on another flight if it’s a problem and I am deposited directly at EYW, a 5 minute cab ride to anyplace on the island so I won’t even need to rent a car. That’s a big price factor that would also apply to my example about DEN to the ski towns.

      If landside (a) provides traffic insurance via rebooking and (b) eliminates the need to rent a car, that gets pretty darn compelling to me.

    2. As you look at routes like DEN-EGE and DEN-ASE, another question is how Landline will handle adverse road conditions. It’s not at all unusual for there to be road closures at the Eisenhower tunnels or Vail Pass. Will passengers be protected and get guaranteed transportation even if it’s a day or two later? That can get complicated. And while the EGE airport is at Gypsum, many of the passengers want to go to Avon/Beaver Creek and Vail, so it’s not that easy to figure out how to provide attractive service. I don’t think a bus to Gypsum will be all that attractive.

    3. While you might not take a bus from DTW to Toledo when travelling to Toledo, you might think that was a pretty attractive option if you lived in Toledo.

      (FWIW, I was once travelling to Detroit and had to take Amtrak home due to an ear infection. Amtrak actually offered a service like this from Detroit to pick up the train to DC in Toledo… the kicker was the pickup point was the Detroit Greyhound Terminal. No thank you… My expense account that trip was tied up in audit for months. I had a plane ticket (of which I discarded half), a rental car (getting around Detroit, and that turned into a one-way rental), a car service from the Toledo airport to the Toledo train station (this was pre-Uber days), a train ticket from TOL to DC, and a second train ticket back home to RDU (connection was too tight to book it on a single ticket.))

      1. Wow that was quite an odyssey!

        My cousins who lived in Toledo always drove to DTW and parked, an hour or less door to door. With the TOL airport being rather SW of town, many Toledo residents have a 20-30 minute trip to TOL and could be halfway to DTW in that time. Plus factoring in 2+ hours for the connection time at DTW, it would be hours longer to use the landside option.

        Again this just illustrates that the value proposition will have to be considered for each unique city pair.

        I’m thinking that vacation destinations to hub airports would be especially compelling inasmuch as vacationers could eliminate the cost of rental cars.

  4. Agree with the others that many of the map segments are going to be way more than 2 hours, especially if the bus is tracked and has to drive the speed limit.

    The cuts for small cities are painful, but the problematic ones are the cities that are *not* 2 hours away from a big hub. If you live out west, driving 2 hours to Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, or Denver isn’t a big deal. But driving 6 hours to any of those places from much of MT/WY/ND (or other examples) is harder and those flights disappearing are the bigger deal that buses can’t solve as easily.

    1. Your point about the difficult in serving some of the smaller, remote communities in MT, WY, ND is real and significant.

      This really deserves to have an adult conversation with everyone showing all their cards and putting all the resources onto the table. The 1500 hour rule absolutely deserves to get re-examined to make service to smaller communities more viable. But so does the whole EAS program. Not only is most of the EAS money wasted by providing flights that barely get any use, but in many cases the EAS flights weaken other commercial airports in the vicinity. There needs to be a large radius, maybe 2-3 hours of driving time, if there is an airport that has 2 or more daily flights to a true hub (e.g. SLC DEN MSP) then no EAS subsidies that divert passengers. And maybe some of that EAS money could instead support a bus shuttle to the commercial airport, whether that’s landside or airside is less important.

      The current situation is a mess, with some airlines and airports coveting the EAS money for their own parochial interests, and of course the pilots unions preventing entry into the profession with the 1500 hour rule. From a public policy point of view, it’s pretty insane and you’d never design it this way.

  5. The substitution of bus for aircraft makes sense on a number of levels. Yes, it can serve small cities that wouldn’t be feasible otherwise – as long as those cities are an fairly easy drive from a hub. This won’t work for Sidney, NE or Farmington, NM. And, as we don’t have a robust rail system here in the USA, there is some sense in substituting bus for aircraft in routes like SFO-SMF, ORD-MKE, ORD-SBN, BOS-PVD, etc.

    The main downfall to the entire idea, as I see it, is that busses are vulnerable to the same traffic issues that your SUV at home is. Thus, some of those routes that I outlined above could have appalling delays when the “flight” happens to leave at the wrong (or unlucky) time of day. Imagine what *fun* the Bay Bridge could be on your SFO-SMF flight; or the horrible Borman Expressway (80/94) through the NW Indiana wastelands on the ORD-SBN run. Seriously, you could be stuck on that bus for hours. Which is why people fly. So, that is an issue that I trust Landline is closely studying. Because the concept does have merit. but it has flaws as well.

    1. They wouldn’t schedule trips during the “horrific” travel times. I know there will still be traffic delays This isn’t and won’t be available for all flight times. If you haven’t used it yet there are only a few bus departures per day (4-6 ) that try to accommodate as many flights as possible. On one bus you will have people taking 15-20 different flights from the HUB.

    2. This is true! But aircraft have their own traffic issues as well both in the air, and on the ground.

      In the air: Flow control systems for both landing or departing, being asked to do a go-around, being asked to circle a bit more, etc.
      On the ground: Other aircraft blocking the taxi way preventing you from pushing back, another aircraft already at your gate, etc.

      Ground transport also seems to handle weather much better. :) No ground stops lightning or high winds.

      Otherwise, agreed that Landline has both merits and flaws.

  6. A YouTuber did a trip To Atlantic City a few months ago for his channel “Trains are Awesome.” Picked up the bus at PHL & described the entire process from gate to drop off & was quite pleased with the operation despite a slight road delay.

    I can see a few really good options for Landline to set up operation points if things fall the right way…
    1. LV convention Center
    2. HPN & smallish airports like it as the residents who live around there would like the reduced noise.
    3. certain large bus terminals such as South Station, Kenidy Plaza & the PABT as they already have airporter service, but it’s curbside & not to gate.

    1. As a former DCA neighbor let me assure you that no amount of anything will appease the noise crowd.

      New, quiet engines on larger aircraft? Nope, only MD-80s should fly over my house cause they are smaller.

      Bus replacing aircraft? Nope, won’t anybody think of the traffic.

      Close the airport? I don’t want to drive to Dulles for my once a year flight to Florida.

      That crowd is insufferable.

  7. The question begs to be asked: Why just hub airports? There are at least some mid-sized non-hub airports with respectable connections already. (For instance, instead of taking pax from FAY to CLT (almost a three hour drive), take them to RDU instead (1h 20m.))

    It would be even better if it could be a multi-airline trip… why just restrict the service to passengers of a single airline? Restricting the bus to a single airline reminds me of all the airports with an endless stream of rental shuttles, none with more than a few passengers ea., going to facilities right next to each other.

    1. Another great idea, if each landside bus to an airport could codeshare with multiple airlines. Really increases the utility and the potential number of passengers.

    2. The point of going to a hub is to avoid a double connect, which I’m sure is unpopular.

      Plus going to a hub gives you more options of destinations.

  8. I just took the summer seasonal BIH-SFO on a 70-seat CRJ7 which often has 25-45 pax. I was surprised at TSA’s staffing at BIH: It takes 5 people! (1) ID checker, (2) guiding bags into X-ray, (3) guiding pax through metal detector, (4) screen watcher, (5) secondary bag screener.

    1. I have likewise thought this before flying out of HYA on Cape Cod. ~5 agents to scan for a 9 passenger Cessna to BOS. Kind of crazy!

      1. I bet there are more passengers per day out of HYA compared to the once daily CRJ7 from BIH?

        But then, anything is supposedly worth it to send passengers directly into the terminal, airside, when they arrive at BOS/SFO/PHL…

      2. Oh, I’ve had 5 screeners to myself at Hagerstown (who droves in a van from Baltimore) as the only passenger. Funny, I drove from Baltimore too and worked at BWI at the time and knew the supervisor who was with them…. we agreed couldn’t they have just screened me, put me in their van, and taped the door shut to save us all some trouble? haha

  9. Instead of a bus model for a 2-3 hour ride, would rather a more creative JSX airline model. Smaller planes (30 seats) that do not need 1500 hour pilot training to make the system economical. It might require some subsidization from the rest of the network, but that is a conversation the public will need to have.

    1. Except thats not possible, I am the chief pilot for a 135 operation, and we still have the 1500 hr rule. It doesn’t go away just because its less than 30 seats. All of ours have 6-8 and it’s still very much in play.

  10. It is indeed a great step forward for the TSA to recognize behind security ground transportation outside of security. I fully expect – or certainly hope – that there are security procedures and technology besides just basic GPS tracking that can make sure the bus is secure throughout the entire journey and that verification process is done before the vehicle is allowed to enter the secure area of the destination airport.

    I’m not sure the value for behind security airport transfers are as large for small cities that are multiple hours in the best traffic in the western and southern US but in more densely populated areas of the country such as the NE, the Carolinas, Florida and Southern California etc where there are already multiple airports w/ scheduled passenger service and TSA facilities.

    There is also the opportunity for airlines to offer this type of service between airports in the same metro area such as MDW to ORD, DAL to DFW, LGA to JFK or DCA to IAD or ONT to LAX, all where different airlines have considerably different levels of service at airports in the same metro area and where it could be advantageous to either allow an air to bus to air connection or even provide a local check-in at one airport w/ a bus to a flight at another airport.

    I personally doubt that the TSA is going to create TSA checkpoints at non-airport facilities such as convention centers or stadiums but they most certainly benefit from increased traffic at smaller airports.

  11. So flying 30 passengers on a plane with a pilot with less than 1500 hours is not allowed in the name of “safety,” but putting those same 30 passengers on a bus, where they are many times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, is OK?

    1. Lol great perspective but I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the logic (or lack thereof).

  12. Any bus route requiring the bus to cross active (non-exempt) railroad tracks at any point could not be operated; as buses have to stop and open their door in most states to look for trains.

  13. I partially agree with the author. It is interesting to learn about this concept, which is likely feasible for many airports.

    I partially disagree with the author, in that this procedure might be unfeasible for some airports. I am primarily thinking about how it could be implemented at Los Angeles International Airport.

    There would be 2 problems with driving a passenger bus to the airline terminals at LAX airport.

    A bus could get tied up in traffic on the horseshoe roadway which is in front of the terminals. Of course, a short haul airline flight could also be disrupted by a variety of factors, so you take a chance of a missed connection, whether you fly or use a bus. Also, next year, traffic on the horseshoe road might be reduced, because a new People Mover shuttle will begin serving the terminals, plus a new subway station will be added at the airport.

    Second, you could successfully security screen passengers at an outlying airport, but there would be a security issue of how to move them from the bus into the airline terminal. One solution would be to temporarily have T.S.A. screeners keep people from crossing the passengers’ path, as they walk from the bus into the terminal. The National Park Service did something similar to this at Independence Hall national park in Philadelphia. Both sides of the public street had a security area, and private security officers watched pre-screened visitors cross the street between the 2 areas, and ensure that non-screened members of the public did not interact with the prescreened visitors.

    You could also drive a prescreened bus onto the airfield to the terminal buildings. But I hate to see more motor vehicles driving on the airfield.

    1. Dominick – This bus wouldn’t go through the horseshoe at LAX. It would come from the airfield and exit at one of the various points outside the horseshoe, if they were to bring it there. And the bus parks at a gate, so passengers do not have to go through the non-sterile area at all.

      1. Thank you.  It’s nice to know that horseshoe related traffic would not delay these new buses.

                Yeah, I through about driving the buses onto the airfield.  I am concerned about cluttering the airfield with a lot of additional motor vehicles for safety reasons.  But on the other hand, if the bus passengers all continue using small aircraft, the additional planes will clutter up the airfield anyway.  (Think about the U.S. Air crash of 1991.)  So I guess that the airfield might be cluttered either way.

                You  are probably far more familiar with the situation than I am.  I haven’t flown in many years, and I haven’t worked at the airport for far longer than that.

        1. Ever been to FRA? They have so many hard stand gates with buses picking up and delivering passengers that there are often dozens of buses in the airfield.

  14. I just don’t know how well this will work. Who is the target market here?

    Look at Brett’s mapper, almost all of the cities on the list already have flights to nearby hubs. Longview and SHV to DFW, FSD/DLH/FAR to MSP, etc. So in some ways they are going to be competing with themselves. Unless they are thinking they can kill the flights and just send a bus there?

    Let’s consider Longview, which I know because my sister lives there. It’s 2 hours from Love Field and like 2:20 from DFW. They also have two flights on Eagle to DFW, morning and evening. My sister almost always just drives to Dallas (or DFW) and flies from there, because the GGG flights are very expensive. But let’s say they wanted to kill the Eagle flights. Could they get enough pax to make the buses work?

    What benefit does the bus provide? If the person in Longview (or other small city) still has to go out to their own airport, park, check in, and go through security, they still need to be there a couple of hours before departure, just like if they were flying. But then they would have a 3 hour bus ride from Longview to DFW. So for someone living there, it’s a five-hour commitment just to get to DFW to catch a flight somewhere.

    Driving their own vehicle will save them some time, at least 30 minutes over a bus.

    So really, the only people you would attract doing this are people who don’t want to drive from the smaller city to the hub. In the end, you’re competing with people’s cars. And if you do NOT cancel the flights to the small city, it REALLY doesn’t make any sense, because the bus adds a couple of hours to the trip and doesn’t save the passenger any money.

    I just think this would be a very limited package, maybe to vacation places such as ski resorts.

    1. I gotta think this would be in lieu of, not in addition to, actual flights.

    2. > they still need to be there a couple of hours before departure

      Who goes to a small airport a couple of hours before departure? Did you ever read a trip report where Cranky is flying from Long Beach and leaving his house 30 mins prior to departure (maybe slightly exaggerated).

      > Driving their own vehicle will save them some time, at least 30 minutes over a bus.

      And driving your own vehicle means you are responsible for parking, gas, and most importantly the risk of traffic delays while Landline as a “flight” protects you against misconnects.

      But then they have to pay for gas and parking

      1. Most people check bags. At a small airport they will have one or two people working. That’s 30 minutes at least, and then you better make sure you get there in time for security, which as Brett noticed at MRY is very intensive at smaller airports.

        Maybe you can save 30 minutes by doing security at GGG or SBN but most people are still going to hit the airport more than an hour out. And you will make up most of that time driving yourself as opposed to riding in a bus doing 54 mph.

        You’ll still have to pay for parking at a small airport. It will be cheaper but these cities aren’t missing that revenue. And yes you pay for gas…but you would not pay the bus fare, which wont be free. It will almost always be cheaper overall to just drive yourself to the hub.

        Plus who cares if the bus is “protected” against misconnects. You’re still screwed and sitting in the airport for hours or even days, aren’t you?

        So…a bus will have greater travel time than driving or a regional flight…and it won’t cost any less either. So really the only reason would be to avoid driving in the city. That’s about it.

        1. You’re thinking of it as a resident. As a tourist if I can take the bus directly to Key West or Vail instead of having to drive from Miami or Denver while eliminating the hassle and expense of a rental car, then sign me up.

          1. I am thinking of it as a resident, too. And I recently picked up a rental car at my little airport that doesn’t have flights to the nearest hub and drove myself three hours to the hub to catch an international flight. I could have flown to that air port via another hub (so two flights to get there), but a bus “flight” would have been my preferred choice.

            1. Much less service and, often, much higher fares.

    1. Would switching buses for EAS flights really save much money?

      You would have the same costs at the EAS airport with security there. Then you’d have to drive the pax to the larger airport. How much do you save by having a bus carry 7 people from Scottsbluff to Denver or Owensboro to St. Louis in a Cessa Caravan compared to driving them on a bus?

      1. Can you adjust the size of the vehicle by the number of reservations?  Can you run a shuttle van sized vehicle on trips which have 5 or 6 passengers, and a full sized bus when the passenger load warrants it?

  15. My biggest gripe is if you have to be in the car anyway, wouldn’t you prefer the convenience of your own car? If I lived in Bellingham, WA (2-2.5 hours from SEA), as soon as I land at SEA, I’d want to get in my own car and start driving home. I don’t want to sit around SEA for an hour or however long the connection is, waiting for a bus.

    1. I mean if you have something you’d rather be doing than driving, spending that hour at SEA to get that 2.5 hours of productive time instead of driving.

      Driving is a big waste of time. It is usually best to have someone else do it.

  16. One other thing about EAS airports.

    Before 9-11, there was no security at all at these airports. You’d just get on the plane and fly to the hub, and then they would discharge you outside security. There might be a police officer on duty at the airport, but there was no TSA there.

    I’m still not sure security is needed for planes carrying 7 people.

    1. Yeah, I worked at a commuter airline in the early 1980s, which had no security screening on most of our flights.  I drove some close connect passengers across the airfield to a major airline, and a major airline manager screened them with a hand held wand on the airfield.

  17. This is one small example of how a multi modal approach might work to both relieve congestion and provide service to smaller communities. There is no one-size-fits-all magic bullet that meets all transportation needs. Figure out what the best solutions are in each situation (which tend to be the easiest and least expensive ones to implement) and go with them.

  18. I knew they were working on the TSA element of this, as that was kind of the point to start with. I’ve seen the busses board at Philadelphia from the F gates… which is hilarious as they board by Group number like any AA flight… 1 through 9 or whatever it is. So you can still have 8 people getting on a bus to ACY and listen to the agent call for any Concierge Key and wait 30 seconds while nobody walks up (which they already would know none are on board – but let’s be consistent) and repeat until at Group 4 someone actually approaches.

    I just booked a ticket out of ABE for next month through PHL just to give this a shot.

    Brett may know the answer to this as while he wasn’t there at the time, I’m sure knows the context: I recall America West used to offer service to Scottsdale via the Careliner Express, or something similar, that departed from one of the gates in the old T3 temporary wing. I am unsure if it returned back to the secure side or not – I know it went to the Scottsdale Airport. Obviously a different security world then, but that’s the first parallel that came to mind.

    1. Still laughing at the idea of Concierge Key preboarding… to get on a bus! ?

    2. Jason – Yep, the old Careliner did Scottsdale to/from PHX. It lasted into T4 as well, if I remember right. I honestly don’t know what happened on the inbound from Scottsdale, but my assumption is that people were dropped at the curb. Pickup was at a gate to go back out to Scottsdale.

  19. Love the idea of this at non-airports.
    It would be very cool if you had it at train stations in cities with poor airport public transportation. Trains can facilitate connections to the airport and are often located in downtown areas.
    Imagine a pre-cleared LAX flyaway bus! Checked baggage sounds like a problem though.

    This in secondary airports could be a nice idea too (and solve the checked baggage problem with existing airline counters) – like LGB-LAX-XXX.

    1. This would be perfect for Covenant or some other private company. They can have the local staff cross trained.

  20. My takeaway from this comment thread is that we need more time to let the market play itself out now that the process has finally become more streamlined.

    If pilot supply remains constrained, regional flights will continue to be expensive to operate (which is passed to the customer) and airlines & customers will continue to look for alternatives. Additionally, while you as an individual might not think there is demand for this type of product, there are probably enough people that fit a certain demographic that are interested in it. Think older people that aren’t comfortable driving 2-3 hours from their home, business people that prefer to work vs focusing on driving, an increasingly tech-oriented generation (looking at you gen-Z) that would prefer to play with their phone or watch a movie, etc.

  21. 1) If this becomes widespread, I wonder how this will impact larger airports. Will Southwest drop ORD flights and just bus pax to MDW from ORD. Or will American drop/reduce flights to BWI and bus passengers to DCA or Philly. Would united operate busses between LGA/JFK and EWR.

    2) I find the most intrigue if TSA set up check points in downtowns (think Chicago or NYC) and airlines bus pax out to the airport gate-side. They could charge quite the premium for this: likely short TSA waits, nonstop ride to the airport (similar time as a taxi), likely shorter walk to your gate, and just over all peace of mind.

    1. As a Chicagoan who grew up near MDW and now lives near ORD and a former A-List Preferred on WN, that won’t happen. Why would anyone drive to ORD and deal with ORD’s chaotic parking just to hop a bus to MDW? I can see people not wanting to deal with the perpetual construction zone that is 294, and I can see convention attendees in Rosemont getting transport (which begs the question of why they wouldn’t fly into ORD in the first place), but that’s about it. WN would keep the flights into ORD and MDW, and there might be a dedicated bus between the two for transfers, but I don’t think that WN has any unique routes from ORD that you can’t reach from MDW and definitely vice-versa.

  22. Delta should operate a bus from LGA airside to JFK airside since they actually have hubs on both sides and people connect between them all the time.

  23. How about buses departing from NYC rail stations out to LGA, JFK, and EWR? That would allow passengers to come into the city by train (or locally on subway), clear security, and board a bus that takes them airside, avoiding the security and landside access issues at these airports. It’s not easy getting downtown after flying into LGA, and it’s a trek getting the air-train to PATH. A landside bus would likely be an improvement.

  24. The model of clearing security before getting on the bus feels really backwards. This means I first have to go to the small airport instead of boarding it in the city, and that the bus can’t easily add more stops, which is one of the major advantages of the bus.

    I guess it might somewhat work in the US where security checkpoints at big airports are even worse than in other parts of the world, and people tend to drive to the airports instead of using local public transportation or just walk to the stops, but it’s still a very odd model.

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