Inspectors find some Arizona airport luggage scales don’t measure accurate weight
By Joe Ducey
KNXV-TV Ch 14 (ABC), Phoenix (AZ)
Suitcase on airport scale
PHOENIX – Airlines continue to cash in on extra fees from overweight bags, but Valley luggage scales used to determine that baggage weight aren’t always accurate.
It’s news that may be more important now to passengers than ever before.
Most airlines charge $50 for each bag weighing 51 pounds or more. Delta Airlines charges $90 a bag and United Airlines charges $100 per bag 51pounds or over.
Recent reports show that in 2010, the top five airlines collecting the most baggage fees took in $2.5 billion from those fees alone. Delta and United were included in the top five.
INSPECTING THE SCALES
With that information, the ABC15 Investigators followed inspectors from the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures .
We watched as inspectors checked luggage scales for accuracy at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
They checked five scales used by popular low-cost airline Allegiant Air.
From the beginning, inspectors noticed problems. One of the scales started at -0.3 pounds. That would benefit the passenger.
But Shawn Marquez with Weights and Measures said all scales should start at zero and that it points to maintenance issues.
Inspectors closed that scale and another that fluctuated between adding and subtracting weight.
Another scale tested high. With the weights placed on the side of the scale, inspectors found it was off by one-third.
Four of the five scales tested were not accurate. The airport, not the airline, handles maintenance of scales and a maintenance team was called to handle the situation in Mesa.
The ABC15 Investigators saw inspection stickers on the scales showing an April 2010 inspection and another scheduled for October.
SKY HARBOR INSPECTIONS
Weights and Measures inspectors also checked scales at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in 2008 and 2010.
Records from both inspections show by far, most of the scales passed without a problem.
Thirty scales were found to have issues, though, including scales at US Airways, Alaska, Southwest, Delta, Continental, JetBlue and United.
Most of those scales were found to either add or subtract weight.
Three of the scales at Northwest, now Delta, Airlines were found to be “detrimental to the passenger.”
But again, it’s the airport, not the airlines that handle scale maintenance.
Marquez said the scales take a lot of abuse. We saw several workers resting their feet on the scales.
DOUBLE CHECK WEIGHTS
Even though the scales may be off by a small amount, don’t blindly trust them when you travel.
Check to see that the scale shows zero before you put your luggage on it.
If your bag shows that it’s overweight, ask that it be weighed again on a different scale.
And make sure you have room in one suitcase or a carry-on just in case you have to move belongings to keep your luggage from being overweight.
If you believe there’s a problem, contact the Department of Weights and Measures . They investigate all complaints.
The ABC15 Investigators also checked airport scale inspections at two popular destinations for Valley passengers, San Diego and Denver.
The County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures records show from July 2010 to July 2011, there were only two scales that were not accurate.
The scales from Southwest Airlines and United Express were both “weighing light.”
Here are the results of inspections at Denver International airport for the last year from the Colorado Department of Agriculture:
Two hundred and twenty five luggage scales were tested at DIA in the last year. Four were rejected, one at each of the following airlines:
· Delta (18 approved/1 rejected)
· Lufthansa (4 app/1 rej)
· Southwest (21 app/1 rej)
· US Airways (5 app/1 rej)