On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation dotted the eyes and crossed the tees for Sir Richard Branson's airline, Virgin America, to begin flying out of SFO, which will actually be its home base. Huzzah, more local jobs! The company is planning a mid-summer launch.

The airline is billing itself as a "a new low fare U.S. airline," though the proof will be in the pudding; it seems to us that airline competition is more or less stagnant; everyone has low-cost flights available if you're willing to be flexible (at least for the flights we've taken in the past year or two).

The first flights will be between SFO and New York (JFK); eventually expanding service to LAX, Washington/Dulles, San Diego and Las Vegas by the end of its first year of operations.

Hey -- maybe we'll see some hot air balloon action soon in the states!