Know How Much Your Bag Weighs Before Flying

Delta tried to charge “Frustrated Traveler” an illegitimate bag fee yesterday by claiming it was over the weight limit. He knew, however, that unless the bag had been eating tubs of frosting throughout the flight, it was still the same 47 pounds it was when he weighed it himself before boarding.

I was flying [Sunday] on business from Tampa, FL to Albany, NY, and sadly knew going in I was going to have to cough up $25 for Delta to stuff in its vast coffers to check a bag. Tampa International conveniently has self-service luggage scales outside of the airline check in positions; and knowing my bag was borderline I took full advantage, relieved to find it come in at 47 lbs – just 3 below the limit.

Fast forward a few joyous hours later after being stuffed in an over-crowded coach cabin and a fun-filled connection in the cavernous McNamara Terminal in Detroit to find out, upon waiting for my bag at baggage claim, Delta was going to demand a ransom!

Turns out, one of the savvy, well motivated members of Delta’s baggage handling operation decided to slap a “heavy” tag on the bag at some point after my check in. As a free prize for this distinction, Delta demanded an addition $35 – the apparent price difference for an overweight bag. “Nay!”, I cried! Doubting very seriously that my bag could have gained 3 lbs on a flight, I demanded the baggage super on duty weigh it in front of me.

47 lbs.

Good to know units of measurement are the same in Florida as they are in New York.

This is the airline just fined by the DOT for denying passengers their legally entitled benefit after involuntarily bumping them from a flight, and is also under investigation by the FTC for anti-trust violations involving AirTran – can you guess what the subject is? If you guess a fee for checking the first bag, you deserve an ice cream cone.

Frustrated Traveler

I wonder if he really said “Nay!” to the Delta employees. I hope so.


Edit Your Comment

  1. sleze69 says:

    He is very lucky the scales were calibrated. Otherwise, he would have had no recourse but to pay the fee.

  2. Nighthawke says:

    There ought to be a set of certified scales that prints out receipts declaring the weight of each bag.

  3. full.tang.halo says:

    If I worked for the Dept of weights and measures I’d be “random” auditing airline scales once a month. No calling ahead to give them a heads up I’m coming, just weights and a fresh ticket book to start writing violations…..

    • GrandizerGo says:

      Why? The inspectors would just get another kick back by calling ahead that they were coming…
      Cynical Me…

  4. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I hate airlines, all of them. I hate all aspects of flying in recent years.

    I’m glad I haven’t needed to fly anytime recently, and that I don’t need to fly anytime soon. With any luck I’ll be able to go the rest of my life without flying.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Sadly, I agree with you. It wasn’t too long ago, you could buy a ticket for a flight, miss your scheduled flight and hand your ticket to the gate attendant at the next flight leaving for your destination (on any carrier). There was no argument, no id checks, you simply walked on to the waiting plane and arrived at your destination.

      The methods used in the U.S. to screen out terrorists still allows screaming children and drunk passengers who go crazy on to our flights. I’m so sure the trade off is worth it.

      • Rocket says:

        I flew US Air once, and missed my flight. The gate agent, took my old boarding pass, and gave me a new one for the next flight, no questions asked.

        • djshinyo says:

          I bumbled up my dates and times for an early AM flight once on JetBlue at DIA in 2007 and they handled it nicely….just had to stop over at JFK instead of direct back to Boston. That said, the airport was pretty dead at the time.

  5. whgt says:

    “A surprise inspection in 2008 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport found that 28 of Southwest Airlines` 72 baggage scales were slightly out of calibration, while three others had more serious problems and were shut down until they were fixed. At US Airways, 25 of 46 scales had minor problems. Accurate weights are important now with airlines charging extra fees for bags weighing over 50 pounds.

    The good news — for consumers, anyway — is that scales found to be out of compliance generally were off in the passengers` favor.

    Sometimes consumers lose.”


  6. opticnrv says:

    Does anyone else here feel that air travel has devolved from a luxury endeavor to a carnival side show? The product/service of travel has changed so dramatically as to be unrecognizable. The change is only so dramatic with American travel. Why has the rest of the world managed to maintain an acceptable level of service, civility, and dignity when transporting humans while in the US, it remains such an elusive endeavor?

  7. alSeen says:

    Somehow I don’t buy this story at all.

    The cost of an overweight bag on Delta is an extra $90. That is on top of the first $25 charge for the bag.

    $35 is what is costs for a second bag.

    Plus the computer systems are not set up to charge a bag fee after the flight.

  8. pot_roast says:

    If a bag shows up that’s right around 50 lbs, I would take it off, zero out the scale, and re-weigh the bag. Only takes a few seconds. And we’d use the “Heavy” tags and write the weight on it if it was right around 50lbs. If it was 49, we’d write “49lbs” on it. The tags are usually a nice heads-up to the ramp crew that this bag is around 50lbs, so stack accordingly.

    Sounds like a Delta employee was just not paying attention.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      This happened on my most recent flight. I put my bag on the scale, and it was slightly over. I pulled out a coat, it reweighed at 50, and she put a “Heavy” tag on it. My assumption was because it was right at the limit.

      If you do self-check, is there any sort of receipt with the weight printed?

      • alSeen says:

        No there isn’t. and this is why I don’t believe this story. Baggage workers don’t care about the weight. If they see a bag with an Heavy tag, they are not going to go and check the person’s record to see if they paid the overweight charge. They are concentrating on getting the bags onto the belt.

  9. ciara says:

    i always weight the bag at home – and it never fails that their ‘scales’ are out by 1 or 2 lbs and i have to pay… those scales are a scam – i wish we could get dept of weights and measures to monitor them the way they do the gas stns and grocery stores… i think many changes would happen if the airlines were held accountable and fined when the scales were out. (my fav is when i go on a trip – and put stuff that was in the ‘overweight bag’ into my carry on — i know now its under – and it still shows as over… ) crooks all of em.

  10. SusanElliott@Delta says:

    This sounds very unusual. Please ask the customer to reach out to us either via Twitter on @DeltaAssist or on at so we can get details and resolve. I am not familiar with any policy that directs employees to collect overweight bag fees following a flight. If this happened as stated above, we need to follow up with the employees in Albany to clarify our policy and get this passenger a refund. Thanks so much.