Continental sham divorces pass court test

Back in May, Continental Airlines sued nine pilots for getting sham divorces. The marital splits were part of a play for pension benefits, with the “ex” collecting while the pilot keeps earning. It’s good cash if you can find it, but Continental wasn’t thrilled at having to bear that extra cost. On Monday, a federal judge told the airline to live with it, ruling in favor of the pilots. Regardless of the pilots’ intentions, the judge said there wasn’t anything that would let him rule in favor of the airline.

Continental is considering an appeal, which makes sense given the money involved. The airline paid between $10 million and $11 million in pension distributions to the nine pilots, with some individual payments reaching as high as $900,000. In some cases, the spouses remarried after the check cleared.

Well, $11 million … do you know how many bags of peanuts pretzels that buys?

Indian company offers “divorce tourism” package to quarreling couples

For many happy couples, a trip is taken to commemorate joyful events, like a marriage or the impending birth of a child. Then there are other couples – the ones who certainly aren’t happy but who aren’t quite ready to rush off to Vegas for their divorce party. For them, there’s “divorce tourism”.

The Daily Mail reports that a company in India, called KV Tours and Travel, is offering packages to destinations like the Maldives aimed at helping couples on the brink of divorce to reconcile. India has typically had a very low divorce rate – only about one out of every 100 marriages end in divorce – but in India’s largest cities, it is becoming more common. The company offers a few different packages, ranging from local stays to more expensive exotic destinations. Vijesh Thakker, the company’s chief executive told the AP, “We’re trying to send them where they have not been before, where there are not many people – and no relatives”. For couples that don’t want to invest in saving their marriage, the company reaches out to family members and asks them to foot the bill on the couple’s behalf. Experienced marriage counselors accompany the couple on their trip and help them work through their issues and determine if they want to stay together or go their separate ways.

Can a seven-day vacation save a marriage? Not likely, which even the concept’s creator admits. “We’re not destiny changers,” Thakker said, but “we want them to treat the trip like a second honeymoon”.

Continental pilot pension scam, nine disappointed pilots

Continental Airlines is looking to cash in on pilots who cashed in on a divorce scam. The pilots used sham divorces to divert more than $10 million to their ex-spouses. Post-divorce, the exes cashed in on retirement benefits, and the fliers could stay in the sky – and keep earning.

It’s really pretty simple. A couple divorces. The pilot assigns all pension benefits to the ex-spouse. Then, the recipient goes to a state court and gets an order for a lump sum. After the divorce was final long enough for the money to start rolling in, these couples “reconciled.” Yep, they remarried once the scam was complete.

So far, eight of the nine pilots are gone (either by quitting or being fired). One was rehired, because he promised to repay the cash. Apparently, he didn’t do so fast enough and has been named as a defendant. The spouses are being pursued, as well. Seven of the alleged scammers are men, and two are women.

If you don’t want to believe that greed is responsible for the situation, you can call what these pilots did a Darwinian play to protect their cash. The average pilot on Continental is eligible for a lump sum of up to $900,000 upon retirement. But, some airlines are terminating their pension programs and turning them over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which backstops pension plans up to an amount that’s not even close to $900,000. Faced with the prospect of losing their pensions, therefore some are turning to (alleged) fraud.

In addition to the nine who got nailed, other pilots have tried and failed.

Think that’s bad? Click the pictures to read about other women causing problems in the sky:

Austria offers therapeutic package holidays for the newly divorced

If you are on the brink of divorce, you might want to pass by the world’s first Divorce Fair that’s happening in Vienna today and tomorrow. The Fair will later carry on in Austrian cities Linz and Graz.

50% of all marriages in Austria end up in divorce, 65% in Vienna. This Fair is aimed at providing consultation to separated partners on how to overcome the situation with the least possible suffering.

The event seems to be organized quite thoughtfully as days for women and men are separate so as to avoid any sort of possible awkwardness.

Lawyers, mediators, life-crisis consultants, private detectives and DNA laboratories will be participating, and yes therapeutic holiday offers will also be available. Anything to market a holiday huh! I’d really like to know what they include.

Lectures on coping as a single parent, and the effect of divorce on children will also be held and information will be available in German, English, French, Turkish, Croatian and Serbian.

Isn’t that the nicest reasons to have an event!?

[via BBC]

7 gravest threats facing America, according to GQ (It’s not Capri pants)

I admit it. I actually got the 50 Anniversary Issue of GQ with the big “50 Most Stylish Men of the past 50 years” title on the cover. The cover page comes in 10 mutations, ranging from Michael Jordan to JFK. I got Johnny Depp because he lives in France…and that’s how this is all related to travel, in case you were wondering. (I also got it because Johnny Depp is, you know, Johnny Depp.)

Here is what Gentlemen’s Quarterly thinks the Gravest Threats to America are:

  1. The Media (“I like my truth like my coffee: black or white. Shades of gray are for brain tissue and for the weak. neither has a place in the News Business.”)
  2. Immigrants (“Yes, Virginia, there is a right kind of foreigner. The kind who comes to America, loses his brogue, and creates US Steel”)
  3. Divorce (“Walk it off. Work it out. Thirty day return policy and then no exchanges.”)
  4. The Homosexual Agenda (“I am perfectly fine with someone being gay as long as he marries a woman and has kids like the rest of us.”)
  5. Race (“The worst thing about affirmative action is that it encourages reverse discrimination, so-called because it goes in the opposite way of how we naturally discriminate.”)
  6. Religion (“America is a Christian nation…Think of Judeo-Christian values like ‘Sears, Roebuck and Co.’ Judaism is Roebuck.”)
  7. Evolution (“Just because Darwin was a sick twist with a God Complex doesn’t mean you have to buy into this power trip.”)

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Although funny, it is ignorant and oversimplified. At the same time, these seven points nicely sum up what America doesn’t want the rest of the world to know about America, don’t they?