What to Know Now

As of this morning, Virgin America is now operating service from the mainland US into Honolulu, Hawaii. Next month come flights to Kahului. This is significant for a few reasons: first, it’s the first time that VX is operating over-water aircraft — a big step for their growth plans — and second, because they’re now competing with the legacies over that route.

This means that regardless of your allegiance or business travel habits or your in-flight entertainment preferences, travel to Hawaii is about to get cheaper. And we can all get behind that.

The inaugural flight takes place on Monday at 7:30 AM PT. Expect high jinks from Richard Branson in step.

Social Quote of the Day

Keep sharp #SF. We’ve got a few surprises cooking for our Hawaii launch. Follow along: #NOWBoarding

– @VirginAmerica

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Airlines

Passengers Don’t Make Rational Judgments, Which is Good News for Branding Experts: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has found that happy airline passengers are hard to come by, and that pleased passengers may not reward the bottom line, but passengers’ perceptions can be influenced by brand. Read more at Skift

5 Ways to Stay Comfortable and Productive on a Flight: Does anyone actually like flying? Even if you do, there are always ways to make the trip more comfortable, as we highlighted in a recent Getaway column on getting through long-haul flights. Below are five quick tips the column touched on. Read more at The New York Times

Air France Offers Early Star Wars Screening to Lure U.S. Passengers: Air France is offering U.S. Star Wars fans a unique flight-and-film package to see the Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in a special screening on December 16, two days before its official US release. Read more at Skift

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Airports

JetBlue Bets on the Caribbean Market: JetBlue has announced today the increase of frequencies in the Fort Lauderdale – Barbados service, as well as a new codeshare agreement between the low-cost carrier and Seaborne Airlines. Read more at Airways News

Delta Abandons ATL-DXB Route, Blames Gulf Carriers: Starting in 2016, Delta Air Lines will serve one less destination from its main hub, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). In a press release issued Wednesday, the legacy carrier announced it will no longer serve Dubai International Airport (DXB) because the “Middle East Three” — Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways — have made it impossible to compete. Read more at FlyerTalk

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Tech

The Unicorns: These Are the 15 Most Valuable Private Companies in Travel: Unicorns. The most overused word in startup and tech circles these days, unicorns are private companies valued at $1 billion and above by investors, primarily venture capitalists and growth equity investors. Read more at Skift

Domestic Business Trip Spending Has Skyrocketed: A variety of factors have made traveling abroad cheaper for business travelers, but the savings have been undermined by expensive airfares and pricy hotel rates in the U.S., according to new data from Travel Leaders Corporate. Read more at Skift

Commune Hotels Introduces Personalized Guest Communication Service: As a growing number of hotels employ technological strategies to put more power into the hands of the guests, boutique hospitality company Commune Hotels + Resorts recently introduced a personalized guest communication service, advancing the unique experience available for those staying with Commune properties. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Hilton Says It’s Not Worried About Starwood-Hyatt Merger: In a third quarter 2015 earnings call with analysts Wednesday, Hilton Worldwide made clear that it is not bidding to acquire Starwood amid reports that Hyatt Hotels and three Chinese companies are pursuing Starwood. Read more at Skift

New York Hotel Group Releases Study of Airbnb’s Impact on the City: Airbnb Inc.’s room-for-rent business model is hurting New York’s hotel industry. Read more at Skift

How Independent Hotels Tackle Online Reputation Management: Perhaps no segment of the hospitality vertical feels the pressure of the online marketplace more directly than that of the independent hotelier. Read more at Skift

La Quinta’s Interim CEO Says Company’s Future Leadership Still Remains Unclear: In a third quarter 2015 earnings call with analysts, La Quinta’s interm CEO Keith Cline fielded questions regarding the company’s leadership as the board looks to appoint new leadership. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Twitch just dumped the entire Bob Ross library onto a live stream. What better distraction is there from Monday’s work commitments?

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to GM[AT]SKIFT[DOT]COM or to @GRANTKMARTIN

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Photo Credit: The Virgin America dancers in the airline's in-flight safety video. Virgin America