What to Know Now

As of this week, American Airlines and US Airways are now flying under one operating certificate and the US Airways brand is officially starting to fade. Travelers won’t notice much of a difference except for a few small things like unified messaging and marketing. In addition to hearing “Welcome to American Flight xxx” when you board your flights though, there will also be a subtle difference on the radio.

Over air traffic control, the US Airways callsign has always been “Cactus,” a throwback to their merger with America West back in 2005. Most dramatically, you can hear the Cactus callout on the US1549 crash in the Hudson a few years back, but for enthusiasts and dreamers like myself, Cactus is simply a reference to old times past.

The last flight bearing the Cactus callsign landed in Philadelphia from London Heathrow on Wednesday. From here, American has the helm.

Social Quote of the Day

Interesting — “cactus 450” call sign that US Airways flights used is gone Apr 8. Pilots just made a slightly emotional announcement.

@psifertex | Jordan Wiens

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Airlines

How Dynamic Award Pricing Will Change the Way You Book Airline Award Tickets: Rumor this week among the aviation blogs is that United Airlines is considering a new type of award pricing that could drastically affect the way you book award tickets. This comes after news that Delta Air Lines may be considering the same strategy. Read more at Skift

For Americans, European Travel is Getting a Whole Lot Cheaper: There’s a battle afoot between low-cost and legacy carriers, and travelers are the winners. Read more at Travel + Leisure

US Airways Brand Goes the Way of TWA, Pan Am and So Many More: Almost 16 months after the merger creating American Airlines Group Inc., US Airways’ “Cactus” call sign is poised to disappear. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Delta Looks to Shanghai as New Hub for China Expansion: Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said he envisions creating an international hub in Shanghai to build on a growing relationship with China Eastern Airlines Corp. Read more at Skift

Free Heathrow Express upgrade for Star Alliance Gold members: A little known perk of Star Alliance Gold membership is an ongoing free and very easy Heathrow Express upgrade from Standard Class to Business First Class. Read more at EUFlyer.com

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Tech

Be Prepared for Tech to Fail, Says Virgin Atlantic’s Brand Director: In an introduction to his upcoming presentation at the Passenger Experience Conference, set to take place next week as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Virgin Atlantic’s Brand and Customer Engagement Director, Reuben Arnold, advised the industry to be prepared for technical innovations to fail. Read more at Skift

All the Apple Watch Hotel and Airline Apps (So Far): Apple is four days away from taking pre-orders for its Watch, and over two weeks away from release, but that hasn’t stopped airlines, train lines, hotels, booking sites, and other travel brands from announcing their app for the new wearable. Read more at Skift

What Top Travel Sites Looked Like Five Years Ago: Dramatic redesigns have defined travel sites during the past five years, many of them for the better while some haven’t dispelled the clutter completely. Read more at Skift

Skyscanner Tests Periscope in Hopes of Kickstarting Travel Inspiration: Is Twitter’s new live-streaming app, Periscope, an attractive platform for spurring travel inspiration? Read more at Skift

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Hotels

The U.S. Hotel Boom as Illustrated by Omaha’s Expansion: Still days from opening its doors, the new midtown Hampton Inn Aksarben is almost sold out for the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders convention. Read more at Skift

Hotels Embrace Mind-Body Perks to Keep Guests Healthy: Health goes beyond breaking a sweat, which is why some hotels are focused on creating an overall sense of well-being by focusing on mind-body amenities. Read more at Skift

What Modern Hotel Brands Can Learn From Airbnb: Airbnb is a game changer. But not for the familiar reasons. Read more at Skift

Baccarat Hotel in New York City Really Wants to Be an Icon: Just across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan’s Midtown, you can go and sip cocktails from diamond-cut Baccarat tumblers, under the cool light of a crinoline Baccarat chandelier, then ride the elevator up for a disco nap in your Baccarat suite. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

The talented team of Freda Moon and Tim Stelloh have a multi part series on a wrongful conviction case running on Buzzfeed this week. Check out the first in the gripping series here.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin

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Photo Credit: A US Airways plane landing in North Carolina. James Willamour / Flickr