The authors investigate the multiple confined modes of GaAs L3 photonic crystal air-bridge cavities, using single layers of InAs quantum dots as active internal light sources. Theoretical results for the energies, quality factors, and emission polarizations of the first five modes are compared to experimental data for cavities with lattice periods ranging from 240 to 270 nm. The authors also present in-plane field distributions for each mode. In addition to the well-known quality factor improvement of the fundamental mode, they show that outward displacement of the end-holes selectively redshifts modes with large end-hole-field overlaps, thus reordering the modes. (c) 2007 American Institute of Physics.