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Consumer Confidential: Passenger rights, Exxon profits, recalled cribs

April 29, 2010 | 10:06 am

Here's your throat-clearing Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--New rules kick in Thursday to protect air travelers from ungodly delays on tarmacs. But some experts say the rules may result cancellation of flights and higher fares if airlines pass along multimillion-dollar fines. The new rules say carriers can't strand passengers on the runway for more than three hours. They also have to provide a few amenities -- like food, water and clean bathrooms -- if the wait lasts too long. Airlines that don't comply with the rules can be fined up to $27,000 per passenger, or about $3 million per flight. Industry analysts say carriers will do everything possible to avoid such penalties (except run their operations more humanely and efficiently), so travelers can expect a host of new headaches.

--Here's some good news: Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil company, says its quarterly profit jumped 38%, to $6.3 billion. The increase followed a surge in oil prices and hence the amount you and I pay at the pump. Undoubtedly we can all agree that what's good for Exxon is good for America, so this is reason to cheer. Isn't it?

--Heads up: Wal-Mart, Target and Babies R Us are recalling all Simplicity cribs after a 1-year-old child suffocated after being caught between the mattress and the frame. There have also been 13 reports of the cribs collapsing. Separately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says about 217,000 Graco cribs are being recalled because of a danger of suffocation. The agency says there have been 99 reports of incidents involving the side of the crib opening, creating a gap between the mattress and the frame in which little ones can get caught. A free kit is being offered to fix the problem.

-- David Lazarus