Consumer Confidential: Airline fees, hot toys, less Coke
--If you're traveling abroad, don't pack too much. A USA Today survey of airline fees shows that some carriers have hit or surpassed the $400 mark for international passengers traveling with overweight baggage. On most international flights, Continental is charging $400 for a bag weighing 71 to 100 pounds. United Airlines similarly charges $400 for bags weighing 71 to 99.9 pounds on intercontinental flights. American Airlines will charge you $450 for overweight luggage bound for Asia. The reason, AA spokesman Tim Smith told USA Today, is to both defray fuel costs and to dissuade passengers from checking such heavy bags in the first place. Call it tough love.
--Is it too soon to think about what toys you'll be buying for Christmas? Of course not. Toys R Us, for one, is betting that 15 toys ranging from a flying, inflatable remote-control fish to tiny collectible monsters will be big hits this season. Making the right picks early is crucial for toy sellers so they have the right mixture of toys at the right prices to lure shoppers. The holiday season can account for about 40% of a toy seller's annual profit. In 2010, U.S. toy sales rose 2% to $21.87 billion, according to the NPD Group. Toys on the Toys R Us list include: Air Swimmers Extreme by Animal Planet, $49.99; Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls by MGA Entertainment, $34.99; and Monster High Fearleading 3-Pack by Mattel, $42.99.
--Coca-Cola thinks less may be more. The company will announce this week the launch of 12.5-ounce, 89-cent bottles to accompany the 16-ounce, 99-cent bottles it rolled out nationally last year as an alternative to 20-ounce bottles in U.S. convenience stores. It will also slash the suggested retail price on its recently introduced eight-pack of 7.5-ounce Coke "mini'' cans in supermarkets by about 20% to $2.99 to try to lure more customers. The proliferation represents a departure from years of relying heavily on three basic packages -- 20-ounce bottles in convenience stores and two-liter bottles and cases of 12-ounce cans in supermarkets -- as it battled rivals Pepsi and Dr Pepper in the $75-billion U.S. retail soda market. But sugar water is still sugar water, no matter how modest the serving.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: You may want to travel light to avoid higher baggage fees. Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt / Associated Press