New bus service 'seamlessly' connects Lehigh Valley airport with Philadelphia
HANOVER TWP., LEHIGH COUNTY, Pa. — Lehigh Valley International Airport has launched a first-of-its-kind bus service to the Philadelphia airport, with an experience more closely resembling the regional jets passengers are used to.
- Lehigh Valley International Airport and American Airlines launched a new "tarmac-to-tarmac" bus service Wednesday to the Philadelphia Airport
- The bus line leaves from a standard airport gate, and arrives at the secure part of PHL like a typical regional jet
- The ABE-PHL route, and another connecting Philadelphia with Atlantic City, are the first in the nation to drop off passengers to the secure part of an airport, ready to catch another flight
The new service, run by bus operator Landline for American Airlines, will let passengers clear security at LVIA, board a bus at a typical departure gate and arrive at another secure gate in Philadelphia, ready to catch their next flight.
Right now, buses run between the two airports twice daily.
The TSA is going to assess the new program for 180 days, and determine whether it is worth continuing, or potentially expanding to other routes and airports.
Bags are handled as with any flight: passengers check their luggage in with American Airlines on arrival, and the airport’s baggage handling system takes over from there. Check-in also works like any other AA flight.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline used to operate flights from ABE to PHL and back; at the time, it was the shortest flight on American’s schedule. The service was canceled in 2020, and reinstated using buses last year.
Until this week, those buses left from the ground transportation area, like buses from the airport to anywhere else. To catch another flight, passengers cleared security in Philadelphia. Now, passengers will arrive at a standard terminal gate instead.
The same bus service also connects Philadelphia’s airport with Atlantic City’s.
Letting passengers 'travel seamlessly'
The “tarmac-to-tarmac” service has been more than a year in the making, according to Landline Chief Executive Officer David Sunde, and required close collaboration among the bus service, airports and the Transportation Security Administration.
"We're doing something that has never been done before in the history of the aviation business."Landline CEO David Sunde
“To be able to have this hometown airport experience, and show up on the tarmac an hour later at one of the biggest airports in the world — it's incredible,” Sunde said at a news conference Wednesday.
“We're doing something that has never been done before in the history of the aviation business.”
Thomas Stoudt, executive director of the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority, said, “A lot of passengers like to choose ABE for the comfort, the convenience and the low stress environment.”
“Being able to do that now, and get them through the [security] process here and into the terminal to enjoy the atmosphere of this space, I think is one of the things that our passengers have been talking about.”
To operate, the program got a security program amendment from the TSA, the product of more than a year of work among regulators, airports, American and Landline.
“This program streamlines the passenger experience and enables travelers to seamlessly travel,” Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport, said in a news release.
“We have put in numerous security requirements for the bus operators and all airline personnel to ensure robust security protocols are followed at all times.”
“We are excited to offer customers a more convenient experience to clear security at their local airport and arrive airside at our Philadelphia hub with a seamless connection to our global network.”American Airlines Vice President of Corporate Security Gary Tomasulo
American Airlines Vice President of Corporate Security Gary Tomasulo said, “We are excited to offer customers a more convenient experience to clear security at their local airport and arrive airside at our Philadelphia hub with a seamless connection to our global network.”