I Understand Why the U.S. Is Afraid Of Insurgents, But What's So Scary About a Virgin?

01/16/2007 11:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The terrorists were prepared to meet 72 virgins at the gates of heaven after they crashed their airliners into the World Trade Center. I'll be happy to meet only one virgin when I get on my next flight: Virgin Airlines.

Anyone who's ever flown Sir Branson's sky chariot knows what an elegantly run and witty experience it is. There used to be an ad slogan for some now-defunct U.S. airline -- a Greyhound of the air -- that asked, rhetorically, "Is this any way to run an airline?" In the case of Virgin, it certainly is.

But thanks to the Department of Transportation, Virgin America is currently being blocked from offering discount fares because a dominant ownership position is held by non-Americans. Today, Virgin begins the official appeals process in an attempt to over-ride the DOT's refusal. I hope the bureaucrats cave.

I thought that this president was an advocate of free markets. The rule against foreign ownership of airlines is an absurd relic of some distant past when someone believed that our national interest would be threatened by it. But please tell me the point of what's the equivalent of keeping Sir Richard on a watch list?

If Virgin Atlantic can come into the U.S. market and take more skin out of the Neanderthal domestic aviation business, so be it. Why should air travelers be deprived of what the rest of the economy has benefited from: the drive for better products and better service that comes when American companies have to compete with imported products?

We've seen what JetBlue has done to shake up the half-dead white guys who run the airlines. Let Virgin into the mix and watch what happens. It wouldn't mean the end of filthy planes, slop-on-a-tray and indifferent at best service, but it's a start. A new way forward, in the words of our fearless captain.