Feat on the ground

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A small beacon of sanity has finally pierced the millennium darkness. Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced that it will ground its entire 25-plane fleet on New Year's Eve. The reason? To give Virgin employees the night off.

OK, so that last part sounds about as realistic as a United Airlines flight attendant helping a little old lady cross the street. The important thing is that Virgin has taken the first public step toward protecting passengers from the vast unknown that is Y2K.

Yes, Branson is an annoying human being. Despite his immense wealth, taxpayers wind up with the tab every time he crashes a hot-air balloon, which is often. But the fact is that he has taken a negative situation -- light bookings on a night when every computer in the world will be asking itself some really tough questions -- and turned it into a huge public-relations coup. And all by deciding to do nothing. I can't help but admire the guy.

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