What to Know Now

Flying through Chicago this week? I didn’t think so. Late last week, a surly contractor at a regional Illinois air traffic control center went off the rails and started his office on fire. Traffic to both O’Hare and Midway effectively ground to a halt, as flights started to cancel left and right.

As of today, 400 flights are already canceled. With hubs in Chicago, United, American and Southwest are being impacted the most, and delays and cancellations are rippling across the country as flights connecting through the city are also disrupted.

If you find yourself with a ticket through Chicago this week, a few tips. The airlines all have free waivers in place, so if you can route around the city, try building a different itinerary. If you do have to fly through the Windy City, stick to mainline flights, which have a lower probability of being canceled. Rule of thumb: the bigger the airplane the better.

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Social Quote of the Day

FAA hopes to return Chicago air traffic center to full service by October 13 http://cnn.it/1CyOYE6

@thompatterson | Thom Patterson, CNN senior producer who writes, reports and produces on aviation, travel, transpo, infrastructure

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Airlines

Virgin Atlantic Considers Buying 5 More Planes on Path to Profitability:  Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said it’s close to firming up an order for five more Boeing Co. 787s as the carrier pursues a fleet upgrade to phase out older jets. Read more at Skift

Has Southwest Airlines Flown Off Course? The Paradox Of Disruption And Direction: Southwest Airlines may have forfeited its role as the disruptor of the airline industry. This month, it’s marking two milestones — its integration of AirTran and its introduction of international flights — with an updated logo and the mantra “New look. Same heart.” Read more at Forbes

Etihad Unveils Its New A380 Branding in Hamburg, Germany: Rumors surrounding new branding initiatives from Etihad have been swirling around the industry and all speculation answered today during a special Etihad reveal via live broadcast from Hamburg. Read more at Skift

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Airports

U.S. Flight Cancellations Will Linger as FAA Fixes Chicago Air-Traffic Center: Flight cancellations that stranded travelers across the U.S. will take days to unwind as the government works for the next two weeks to fix a Chicago-area air-traffic center crippled by a worker’s alleged sabotage. Read more at Skift

Air France Pilots Announce End to 14-Day Strike: Air France’s leading pilots union on Sunday announced an end to a 14-day strike that grounded roughly half of the airline’s flights, stranded passengers worldwide and led to stern shows of frustration by the French prime minister. Read more at Skift

Lufthansa’s Pilots Still Aren’t Happy, Hint at Even More Strikes: Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which has suffered a spate of pilot strikes this year, faces more walkouts after a union representing cockpit staff said a fresh round of talks about early retirement benefits produced no results. Read more at Skift

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Tech

The Worst Cities for Commuting, Broken Down by Traffic Delays: Washington, DC, is the absolute worst U.S. city for daily commuters, according to Passenger Travel Facts and Figures, a report outlining personal travel trends released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics this week. Read more at Skift

The Cause Behind Melting Dreamliner Batteries Is Still a Mystery: Japan’s transportation authority failed to find the cause of a lithium-ion battery meltdown on a Boeing Co. 787 almost a year after the incidents led to a three-month grounding of the fleet by U.S. and Japanese regulators. Read more at Skift

European Regulators Approve In-Flight Calling and Personal Electronics Use: Europe’s air safety agency has issued new guidelines allowing passengers to use portable electronics including cell phones and tablet computers any time during flights. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

New York City To Get A Seven Star Hotel: Few hotels around the planet have earned the prestigious (if not farcical) seven star rating for luxury, but New York City is about to get one. Read more at Forbes

Hilton HHonors Wants You to Vote for their Next Promotion – and What Charity They Should Support: Hilton HHonors has narrowed their next promotion down to two options, and members can vote for which one they want to see. The one that gets the most votes will run November 1 through January 31. Read more at View from the Wing

Four Seasons drives food truck craze (and headlines) with East Coast tour: It may sound counterintuitive, but Four Seasons – the luxury hotel chain where you can easily pay $300 for a night’s rest – is temporarily getting into the food truck business. Read more at Travel Update

Your Turn

Congratulations to Marty and Ken on the relaunch of their new flight.org website. Check it out here.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

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Photo Credit: American Airlines planes sit at their gates while others taxi for arrival and departure at O'Hare International airport in Chicago. Frank Polich / Associated Press