This has been far more than a standard week of travel news and today unfortunately, most news is bad and sad news. We’re seeing borderline unexplainable partnerships between airlines, the full details on the demise of an iconic US airline brand and unfortunately a very rare death as well. Here are the most important stories of the day…

American Airlines First Officer Dies On Final Approach…

This is extremely sad. An American Airlines First Officer was in control of a Boeing 737 on short final, just two miles from the landing strip in New Mexico when he passed away in flight. The pilot took control of the aircraft, touching down safely and getting the plane to an area where emergency CPR could be performed, but sadly to no avail. This is a testament to how prepared and ready pilots are for virtually any situation and my hat goes off to the pilot for handling this tragic situation so gracefully. Thoughts and sympathies to William “Mike” Grubbs and his family.

Virgin American Brand Officially Ends In 2018…

Alaska Airlines, who acquired Virgin America has shared details of the timeline for the sad demise of the much beloved Virgin America Elevate loyalty program and airline brand. January 1st, 2018 the Virgin America Elevate loyalty program will officially dissolve and all miles not already transferred will become Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles at at a rate of 1:1.3. The somewhat separate operation of Virgin America will also come to a close in Q1 of 2018, officially ending Virgin America….for now? Branson is making noise.

New Delta + Korean Air Joint Asia Venture…

On the surface this isn’t really news, because theoretically Delta and Korean are already alliance partners, and should therefore offer frequent flyer miles and elite status credits regardless who you fly on or which loyalty program number you input. That would be wrong. Delta and Korean have been frenemies and up until now Delta fliers could not earn MQM’s (elite loyalty status credit) which counts toward becoming a shiny Medallion elite flyer. With the initial agreement of this partnership that will all change and you’ll be able to earn miles and status points on either airline seamlessly as they coordinate schedules and share revenue. This should be effective immediately…