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Travel Roundup: American Retired 500 Pilots, Boyfriend Arrested in Marriott Fall, Shorter and Cheaper Cruises and More

500 pilots retired from American Airlines in 2008 -- About 500 American Airlines pilots retired in 2008, taking advantage of a contract loophole that gave them hundreds of thousands of dollars by retiring within 90 days of a stock market peak. So many took the deal that American had to take out a charge of $103 million in the fourth-quarter of 2008 to cope with the mass exodus. Other analysts said that the stock market was only part of the reason the pilots left, other reasons included the economy and job satisfaction. Around 2,000 pilots retired from major U.S. carriers in 2008, and American was the only one to give a pension and a lump-sum payout to pilots. [Source: Chicago Tribune]

Boyfriend of woman who fell 16 stories arrested -- The boyfriend of a woman who fell 16 stories to her death in Florida was arrested late last week for murder. Jonathan Justin Speegle, 27, was arrested on suspicion of killing Nichole Hammond, 30, who fell New Year's Eve from a balcony at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. Hammond had been sharing a room with Speegle, her boyfriend. Speegle initially told police he was in the room when he heard Hammond scream and fall from the balcony. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Cruises getting shorter, cheaper -- Cruise lines are bulking up three-to-four-day cruise offerings to the Caribbean and Mexico for travelers looking for inexpensive and last-minute trips. Carnival Cruise Lines is offering trips starting at $209 from Florida to Mexico and the Bahamas. Norwegian Cruise Lines is also offerings short hops to the Bahamas starting at $229. To battle last-minute travelers, Carnival has also unveiled its "Early Saver" program which drops 25 percent off for some cruises booked 90 days in advance. [Source: Florida Today]

Fourteen states expanding or proposing gambling -- About 14 states are deciding on whether to expand or allow casino resorts, lotteries or racetracks to help generate taxes and other revenue for their struggling regional economies, probably the highest number ever, analysts said. Casinos and other gambling ventures including state lotteries, will be turning up in states such as Ohio, Georgia, Utah, Hawaii and Kentucky. Gambling is a $54 billion annual industry that employs more than 350,000 people. [Source: Associated Press]

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