Traveling can be stressful, and each carrier has different rules that can lead to upcharges and discarded items at checkpoints. Weighing your luggage before traveling can simplify your trip, prevent pain and save you money.
You should avoid estimating your bag’s weight, as airlines are becoming stricter with monitoring limits. Southwest airlines had a sloppy calculation method to estimate weights, and got fined after an FAA investigation. Not only can this affect how much fuel a plane uses, it can also unbalance the plane, causing a change in handling or making it more difficult for pilots to react to emergencies. Here’s why the weight of luggage can be so important:
1) Many carriers have restrictions
Depending on how you’re traveling, and which company you’re using, you could have to put up with restrictions regarding how much weight you can carry before you’re charged. Otherwise your bag may get stowed with heavier luggage causing you to lose access to your things during transportation. This is not exclusive to airlines; trains, buses, and cruise ships can have restrictions as well. Some companies charge a significant fee for overages, so depending on how many bags you bring and how many people you travel with, it can quickly add up to a large sum of money!
2) Airport scales are frequently inaccurate
Airport scales may be inaccurate, or calibrated too infrequently to maintain accuracy they once had. You can ask to reset the scale if you know your bag is under the limit. The scales should be inspected and calibrated, and not used if they’re found to be inaccurate, but it could cost you a significant amount of money if you happen to be traveling between inspections.
3) Your luggage weighs something, too!
Don’t forget, your luggage will not be tared on the airport scale, and it may be heavier than you think. Even if you packed light, the weight of your bag could be enough to put your luggage over the limit because of wheels or heavy materials.
4) You can save money
As we mentioned above, some carriers can charge you an exorbitant amount of money when your bags go over the limit. But depending what you bring or how long you stay, you might not be able to pack less. If you know the weight of your suitcase before you leave home, you can decide if it would be cheaper to pack two smaller bags and pay less that way. Deciding to take less in advance or packing smaller bag can also help you avoid throwing your things out at the last second in front of strangers in the airport.
5) Prevent waste
At Newark airport alone, the TSA sometimes ends up with 100 to 150 pounds of discarded personal items per day. During holidays, that weight can easily double. Some of the trash is destroyed right away for security reasons. When travelers give up items that will not be destroyed or confiscated, they’re eventually sold in thrift stores or auctioned. Whether the items are disposed of, donated, or eventually sold, depending on what was confiscated, it can be a huge waste of your hard-earned money.
6) Health and safety
As frustrating as some of the restrictions are, they’re made to ensure your safety. The plane, ships, buses or trains can only carry so much weight before their performance suffers or fails outright. There are also people who have to carry your luggage, and last but not least, yourself. Carrying heavy backpacks can cause injury, so frequent travelers should be aware of the weight. Heavy bags can also injure your arms, shoulders, neck and joints. Even if you avoid permanent injuries, you could be sore or strained. While luggage with wheels reduce that strain, they can be difficult to lift up staircases or on rough terrain.
7) Smart luggage can be banned
Some smart luggage shows you the weight so you don’t even have to weigh your things. While this seems very handy, several major carriers will not let you bring them due to safety issues concerning batteries. If you want to use such bags, check the battery type to be sure you can bring it, or make sure your bag has a removable battery. Otherwise it may be smarter to invest in a regular suitcase. This also affects carry-ons.
Which scales should I use?
Weighing scales, like our versatile CPWplusW, have wheels and handlebar for easy transportation. You can find these at use in curbside check-in areas at airports, for example. For smaller bags, bench scales can fit on counters with limited spaces. Floor scales can handle bigger luggage with ease, and can even be set to the maximum weight using a handy checkweighing feature to tell at a glance if a luggage is within carrier guidelines.
Don’t forget, do this BEFORE you travel. When you buy your ticket or make your reservation, check the weight limits and follow them. Be sure to read the fine print. The airport, dock, or train station is not the place you want to find out you’re about to incur extra fees and need to scramble to buy another bag or throw things out. Remember you will likely buy souvenirs during your travels, causing your luggage to be heavier on your return trip.