Are Customers Being Cheated By Scales That Improperly Weigh Checked Bags?

News notes from around the interweb:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I have two home scales. The scales at the LGA/JFK airports consistently add about 5 pounds to the weight of the bags compared to my two home scales. I cannot say conclusively that the scales at the airports are incorrect. But it does give me pause.

  2. Las Vegas Airport scales are notoriously incorrect. I have also had to call for a manager numerous times. When you take the bag to a different scale and the readout is less, it is the scales issue, not mine!

  3. Given how a Normal curve of distribution works we might reasonably expect as many customers to be undercharged as those overcharged, unless you are asserting that scales are deliberately made inaccurate to shaft customers in which case, the curve will skew.

    “A recent inspection of the luggage scales at Charlotte Douglas International Airport identified six scales rejected by the state for inaccuracies. (Woofie: And how many scales are there at the airport?)
    “Sometimes it’s over. Sometimes it’s under,” North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Western Area Supervisor Buddy Dutton said.

    Sounds like a Normal curve to me….

  4. Since the airlines are charging for excess poundage, the scales should always be correct. They should never be wrong.

    How would you feel if you bought an once of gold from a gold dealer and he said, our scales are off by a normal distribution. A reputable gold dealer has accurate scales, end of story.

  5. Anyone flying long haul overseas on coach quickly realizes that the airline scales are always weighted in their favor. Or else they pay extra for “overweight” bags all too often. The lesson I learned long ago is to never pack more than 45 lbs. with a 50 lb. bag weight limit. And to bring a small portable bag scale to similarly weigh bags prior to the return flights.

  6. I’m so pleased that there’s an outdoor area in San Fransisco where people can smoke before a flight. The alternative is connecting passengers who will be hyper stressed when boarding another flight. Good call SFO, and that’s not even figuring the nonsmoking people like myself who are just happy to have fellow passengers who are not massively stressed to begin with.

  7. I usually over pack by a 1lb or two and no one seems to care so maybe my digital home scale is wrong.

  8. I was ready to watch the guy punch the back of the seat HARD! So disappointed…..those where just light tap.

  9. Airlines are subject to fines if the scales are found to be inaccurate, in the same way merchants selling by weight are required to have correct calibration. If there are serial offenders ,the fines increase exponentially. Why is it not the case here?

  10. Just to be clear, are you using click-bait headline to imply all airport luggage scales are deliberately decalibrated to cheat customers; or are you overstating and generalizing onto all airports, a problem found by state weights and measures agents at a single airport, and than only on 10% of the scales therein?

    Please, please, please keep your headline accurate, especially when it is allegedly* about deliberate inaccuracy adversely affecting every traveler. (Allegedly, because the other items in your post do not seem to have any remote nexus to the scale topic declared in your headline.)

  11. The seat recline issue rests completely on the Airline. Increase seat pitch and avoid these problems. And @gary, how dare you say that the knee defender will fix the problem? If the seat was built to recline and is actually able to recline then how is the reclining pax the problem? The guy behind this woman (even if the woman was being rude and reclining when not needed) was a complete moron, acting like an entitled teenager. What have we become???

  12. What does the airline say if they weigh your bag and then you pull your handheld scale out of your pocket and get a different weight?

  13. It takes all of two seconds for an airline to verify a scale every day using a standard 50 lb and 75 lb weight. How?
    A box of copy paper weighs: 50 lbs. A ream of copy paper weighs: 5lbs. So, obtain three 5 ream boxes, put one on at a time, the scale should measure 25 lbs, 50 lbs, and 75 lbs. If you don’t want to give any leeway to the customer, remove the amount of paper, maybe 100 sheets, that equals the weight of each container. If every scale is off, then get a new box of paper to make sure your standard has not been tampered with, such as someone ran out of paper and grabbed one of your 15 reams of unopened paper.

Comments are closed.