American Airlines Shuttle New York-LaGuardia – Boston – Flight Review

By Paul Riegler on 19 June 2019
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With the acquisition of US Airways, American Airlines became the operator of one of the hourly air shuttle services operating in the northeast United States.

The original premise of the shuttle was simple. It would link Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., no reservations were needed, passengers could buy their tickets on board, there were no reserved seats, and passengers merely had to show up at the terminal. Eastern kept an extra plane on standby so every person who showed up could be accommodated. On board, there was only one class – not first class, business class, or coach – and meals were served to everyone even for the shortest flights.

Founded in 1961 as the Eastern Airlines Shuttle, which pioneered the concept, the shuttle is the last remaining vestige of Eastern Airlines, although the operation changed hands several times. Under the control of corporate raider Frank Lorenzo in its last years as part of Eastern Airlines, the shuttle was sold to Donald Trump, promising he would make a “diamond” out of it, in 1988 for $365 million and became the basis of the short-lived Trump Shuttle.

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The Trump Shuttle ran out of cash in 1990 after Trump was forced to cede control of some of his businesses to his bankers to avoid personal bankruptcy and US Air assumed operational control in December 1991. [Trump installed gold-plated facuets and faux marble counters in the lavatories and embossed chrome-plated seatbelt buckles on passenger seatbelts, while flight attendants uniforms included faux pearls.]

The American Airlines Shuttle, like its predecessors, is targeted at the business traveler, something borne out by the noticeably higher fares of flying, for example, from LaGuardia Airport to Boston versus from JFK. Its shuttles follow a rigid schedule that doesn’t vary during the week and flights leave from the same gates, day in and day out.

American offers dedicated check-in counters at the airport for its shuttles – there are three from New York, going to Washington, D.C. and Chicago in addition to Boston – and the gates the shuttle uses are the ones closest to the security checkpoint. While the airline doesn’t offer onboard ticketing, passengers can check in for a shuttle flight 20 minutes prior to departure (25 for the Chicago shuttle).

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