You’re about to depart on your much-needed vacation when you suddenly realize that you don’t have a scale nearby to ensure that your luggage is within the weight limitations. I’ve been in that situation and I know how frustrating it is. Don’t worry yet because you still have a few options.
Did you know that there are places where you can weigh your luggage for free? If you don’t have those options nearby, you can easily estimate the weight at home using a simple trick. If all else fails, you can head out to some places where you will have to pay a small fee to have your luggage weighed.
In this article, we’ll go over all of the essential information regarding weighing luggage. We’ll tell you where can you weigh your luggage, how can you weigh luggage without a scale, and other essential things you need to know. Read on to find out more.
Where Can You Weigh Your Luggage?
- At the post office. Usually, when you’re sending out a package, you need to know how heavy it is so you can estimate the fees. That’s why most post offices have scales available for their customers. Even if they’re not visible at first glance, ask an employee if they have any scales, and they will point you in the right direction.
- At some supermarkets. A few decades ago, it was pretty popular for supermarkets to have scales at the front entrance so customers could weigh themselves. While it’s not too popular in Europe, many stores in the U.S. still have these scales available that you can use for free. For instance, these are available at every Publix store.
- Check out your local gym. If you have a gym somewhere nearby, you can call ahead and ask them if you can use their scales for weighing your luggage. Most gyms will have several options available so gym-goers can track their weight.
- At most hotels and hostels. Many hotels realize that their customers might forget a luggage scale and need to quickly weigh their luggage before the flight. So they usually will have larger scales available in the lobby or behind the desk that you can use for free or for a small fee.
- At the airport. As a last resort, you can just weigh your luggage at the airport. Be prepared for the possibility that you might have to discard things from your luggage before your flight, though! Once there, you’ll find several stands that let you weigh your luggage for a small fee. Sometimes, though, you can do that for free by weighing your luggage at one of the empty check-in desks if it’s allowed.
How to Weigh Luggage Without a Scale
If you don’t have a regular scale or a luggage scale available at home, you can use a balancing technique for weighing your luggage.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A plank;
- A full water bottle for balance;
- Items with known weight, like dumbbells, water bottles full of water (1l – 2.2lbs), dry food packages (flour, rice, e.t.c.)
- Someone to give you an extra helping hand.
Here’s how you weigh your suitcase with all the items mentioned above.
- Place the plank on top of a horizontally placed water bottle. Make sure to center the water bottle in the middle.
- Place your luggage on one end of the plank, and ask someone to hold it in place.
- Start adding the items with known weights on the second end until you reach equilibrium. Again, make sure that the water bottle is in the middle because both ends have to be equal in length for it to work.
- Add up the weight of all items you placed on the second end and you’ll end up with the correct weight of your suitcase.
Alternatively, you could use other methods for weighing your luggage without a scale. If you have a strong enough pipe or something similar attached on your ceiling, you could wrap a rope around it and try to balance out your luggage on one end, and a bag full of items with known weights on the other end until both items hover at the same height.
Last but not least, you could use your own hands to determine the rough weight. Try comparing your luggage weight to something similar that you know the weight of in your home or hotel. This won’t be very precise but should get you close enough.
Tip: Want to save some weight on your next flight? Get a lightweight suitcase! The It Luggage World's Lightest carry-on weighs just 3.8 lbs (1.72 kg)!
Weighing Your Luggage With a Luggage Scale
If you don’t own one already, I strongly encourage you to buy a luggage scale. By having one, you’ll never again have to worry about the weight of your luggage. For 10-20$, you can get a small and light luggage scale that you can take with you on your vacations. You can check out the picture above where I demonstrate how it works. You simply wrap a strap around the suitcase handle and then pick up the luggage scale with your hand.
Personally, I use the Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale, which is the most popular luggage scale on Amazon. It’s also the least expensive option and it works great. I haven’t had any issues with baggage weight since I purchased it. Although you can get options for $20 to $50, I don’t personally think they’re any better than this $10 option.
Weighing Your Luggage With a Regular Bathroom Scale at Home
If you have a regular bathroom scale at home for tracking your weight, then you can easily weigh your suitcase with it. People who haven’t done it before sometimes don’t understand how, because the suitcase is too large the size of their scale, but it’s really easy.
Here’s how you weigh luggage on a regular scale:
- Turn on your scale, and stand on top of it. Read what’s your current weight and remember it.
- Pick up your luggage and again stand on the scale. Now read the new weight with your luggage included.
- Subtract the larger number from the smaller one and you’ll end up with how much your luggage weighs.
What Are the Weight Limits for Carry-On Luggage?
Some airlines don’t have any weight limits for carry-on luggage while others do. The rule of thumb is if you’re flying with a cheaper airline, they will most likely have a weight limit in place. If you’re flying with a more expensive airline they usually won’t have that kind of restriction.
Sometimes airlines have weight limits for carry-ons separately, and sometimes they’ll have weight limits for the total sum of your carry-on and personal items. The exact limits differ from airline to airline and usually range between 15 lbs to 50lbs.
Here are the carry-on weight limits for the most common airlines:
- American Airlines: No weight limit.
- Delta Airlines: No weight limit except at the following stations: 15 lbs to Singapore flights, and 22 lbs to Bejing and Shanghai flights.
- Southwest Airlines: No weight limit.
- United Airlines: No weight limit.
- Air Canada: No weight limit.
- Alaska Airlines: No weight limit.
- JetBlue Airlines: No weight limit.
- Spirit Airlines: 40 lbs.
- Lufthansa: 17.6 lbs.
- Air France: 26 lbs.
- Ryanair: 22 lbs.
- British Airways: 50.7 lbs.
- Wizz Air: 22 lbs.
- Turkish Airlines: 17.6 lbs.
Note: If you go over the weight limit, your carry-on will have to be checked in for a $30-$100 fee. Also, while some airlines allow two carry-ons, others allow none, so make sure to check how many carry-ons are allowed before your flight.
What Are the Weight Limits for Checked Luggage?
Most commonly, Airlines will have 50-70 lbs weight limits set in place for checked luggage. Anything over that is usually priced with an additional $50-$200 fee, depending on the weight.
Here are the checked luggage weight limits for the most common airlines:
- American Airlines: 50 lbs for Economy and 70 lbs for First and Business class.
- Delta Airlines: 50 lbs and 70 lbs for First Class, Delta Premium Select, and Delta One.
- Southwest Airlines: 50 lbs.
- United Airlines: 50 lbs for Economy and 70 lbs for First, Business, Polaris Business class passengers, as well as Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1k, and Star Alliance members.
- Air Canada: 50 lbs.
- Alaska Airlines: 50 lbs.
- JetBlue Airlines: 51 lbs for regular passengers and 70 lbs for Mint passengers.
- Spirit Airlines: 40 lbs.
- Lufthansa: 50 lbs for Economy and Premium Economy and 70 lbs for Business and First Class.
- Air France: 50.7 lbs for Economy and Premium Economy and 70.5 lbs for Business and La Première Class.
- Ryanair: 44 lbs.
- British Airways: 51 lbs for Economy and 70 lbs for First and Business class.
Note: Airlines will also charge additional fees if your checked luggage is oversized so make sure to measure your luggage first!
What Are the Fees for Overweight Luggage?
The fees for overweight luggage can get pretty pricy, especially on some premium airlines and on long-haul flights. So weighing your checked luggage before your flight is absolutely necessary to avoid those nasty fees. On average, Airlines charge around $50-$200 for each overweight bag. However, some go as far as $400 per bag, which definitely feels like theft on their part!
The actual amount differs between airlines and is based on your class, the actual weight, and the region where you’re flying. Keep in mind that most airlines won’t accept luggage over 100 lbs, no matter how much you’re willing to pay.
Here are the fees for overweight baggage for the most common airlines:
- American Airlines: 51-70 lbs: $100, and 71-100 lbs: $200-$450, depending on the region.
- Delta Airlines: 51-70 lbs: $100+, and 71-100 lbs: $200+, depending on the region.
- Southwest Airlines: 51-100 lbs: $75.
- United Airlines: 51-70 lbs: $100+, and 71-100 lbs: $200+, depending on the region.
- Air Canada: 51-70 lbs: $100+, depending on the region.
- Alaska Airlines: 51-70 lbs: $100.
- JetBlue Airlines: 51-100 lbs: $150.
- Spirit Airlines: 41-50 lbs: $30, 51-70 lbs: $55, 71-100 lbs: $100.
- Lufthansa: 51-70 lbs: $46-$450, depending on the region.
- Air France: 51-70 lbs: $75-$120, depending on the region.
- Ryanair: 51-70 lbs: 11 EUR per kg. (Around $5.50 per lbs.)
- British Airways: 51-70 lbs: $100.
Fees for overweight luggage are expensive and sometimes can go up to $450 per bag. So having your luggage weighed before your flight is not only essential but necessary if you don’t have stacks of cash lying around. If you’ve forgotten your luggage scale, or don’t have a regular scale nearby, you can attempt weighing the luggage without a scale or go to the nearest post office, supermarket, hotel, gym, or airport.
But for any future flights, I would instead recommend getting a cheap luggage scale. They’re light and you can just pack it inside one of the smaller compartments of your suitcase. If you purchase too many souvenirs, alcohol, or snacks on the way back, you’ll be able to make sure that your bag isn’t overweight. That way, you can be sure that you won’t have to discard things you truly want to keep.
I use the Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale from Amazon, and I don’t think that the pricier ones are worth it. I’d recommend it for anyone who doesn’t have a luggage scale yet because it makes your life so much easier. Consider purchasing one before your next flight!