Two days ago President Bush signed a bill slowly repealing the Wright Amendment that for so long prohibited long-haul flights out of Dallas' Love Field in order to protect American Airlines and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. From its inception the law was arbitrary and anti-competitive, and it's good (especially for the people of Dallas) that it's going to disappear. Wikipedia has some background on the Wright Amendment and explains its motivation thusly:
After the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978, Southwest Airlines [headquartered at Love Field] entered the larger passenger market with plans to start providing interstate service in 1979. This angered the City of Fort Worth, DFW International Airport, and Braniff International Airways which resented expanded air service at the airport within Dallas. To help protect DFW International Airport, Jim Wright, a Fort Worth congressman, sponsored and helped pass an amendment to the International Air Transportation Act of 1979 in Congress which restricted passenger air traffic out of Love Field in the following ways:
* Passenger service on regular mid-sized and large aircraft could only be provided from Love Field to locations within Texas and the four neighboring states, (Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico). At the time, all of Southwest's destinations were included within this zone, hence the law had no immediate effect on Southwest's operations.
* Long-haul service to other states was possible, but only on commuter aircraft with no more capacity than 56 passengers.
While the law deterred other major airlines from starting service out of Love Field, Southwest continued to expand as it used multiple short-haul flights to build its Love Field operation. This had the effect of increasing local traffic to non-Wright-Amendment-impacted airports such as Houston/Hobby Airport, the New Orleans Airport, and the El Paso and Albuquerque Airports.
Some people have managed to "work the system" and get around the Wright Amendment's restrictions. For example, a person could fly from Dallas to Houston or New Orleans, change planes, and then fly to any city Southwest served — although he or she had to do so on two tickets in each direction, as the Wright Amendment specifically bars airlines from issuing tickets that violate the law's provisions, or from informing customers that they can purchase multiple tickets that would allow this.
Until recently I didn't even know about this stupid law, and I can't even imagine how many other ridiculous laws we're stuck with that no one affected even knows about.