Bringing luggage to the airport without weighing it beforehand can be a bit of a gamble.
If your bags are overweight, you only have two options:
- Dole out the extra cash for additional baggage fees, or
- Frantically dig through your suitcase to remove, repack, or toss out bulky items.
To avoid headaches at the airport, you may be able to weigh your luggage beforehand at hotels and hostels, gyms, the post office, supermarkets, or pharmacies – but call ahead to confirm it’s allowed. If all else fails, you can get crafty with some DIY hacks to roughly determine your bag’s approximate weight.
This article explores common locations to weigh luggage for free, explains alternative ways to weigh your bags, and outlines standard airline policies.
Common Locations To Weigh Luggage For Free
If you’re concerned about how heavy your bags are, make a quick stop at one of the following to weigh your luggage for free.
Give yourself ample time to repack if you discover your suitcase is overweight.
Hotels and Hostels
Hotels and hostels (especially those near the airport) often have scales available for guest use.
Occasionally, they even have larger scales in the lobby so travelers can weigh their luggage before they check out.
Many gyms and fitness centers have scales so members can track their progress and goals.
If you have a membership and know your gym has a scale, pop by and weigh your luggage before you head to the airport.
The Post Office
Post offices determine their prices based on the size and weight of a package and often have industrial-sized scales to accommodate heavier shipments.
Your local postal outlet may let you weigh your suitcase if you call ahead and they aren’t too busy.
Supermarkets and Pharmacies
Scales used to be common at supermarkets and grocery stores, and sometimes they’re still available.
In fact, many Publix locations still have scales in their stores that customers can use.
Additionally, most pharmacies have scales, but you will likely need the pharmacist’s permission to use them.
If you’re in a time crunch or forgot to weigh your luggage in advance, most airports have scales travelers can use before checking in for their flights.
However, if you weigh your bag at the last minute, you risk finding out your bag is too heavy mere hours before take off.
When this happens, you’ll need to consider whether to pay additional baggage fees, check a second bag, redistribute items into your carry-on, or get rid of things altogether.
Alternative Ways to Weigh Your Luggage
The Bathroom Scale Method
Believe it or not, small bathroom scales can be pretty effective for weighing luggage.
The only catch is that putting a large suitcase on a small surface might be a little awkward, or the scale might not accurately weigh soft-sided bags that hang over the edges.
The best way to use a bathroom scale for luggage is to weigh yourself alone, then weigh yourself while holding the suitcase.
Subtract your solo weight from the combined mass of you and your bag to figure out how heavy your suitcase is alone.
The DIY Method
You might not have to invest any money into DIY weighing methods, but you definitely have to invest time.
You can make a DIY scale using a large plank, a cylindrical item (like a full water bottle), household goods with known weights, and a helping hand.
You’re basically going to build a see-saw by placing the cylinder under the center of the plank.
Put the suitcase on one end, then start piling up household items on the other.
When the plank is balanced, you’ll know the suitcase and the household items weigh the same.
Add up the weight of the household items, and then you have an approximate weight for your bag.
This method can be risky when dealing with bulky materials – not to mention tedious.
Alternatively, you can lift something that weighs the same as your baggage limit (e.g., a dumbbell or a small child) and see whether your bag feels lighter or heavier.
However, this DIY method is not very accurate and can only give you a rough estimate.
The Slightly Costly Method
Purchasing a travel-sized luggage scale might be the best choice if you don’t mind spending a little extra cash.
Portable scales range in price from $10 to $40 (give or take) and are worth it if you’re a frequent traveler or tend to overpack.
What Are the Weight Limits for Checked Luggage?
Most US airlines restrict checked luggage to 50 lbs (23 kg) for economy class and 70 lbs (32 kg) for business or first class.
Low-cost carriers often further limit checked luggage, often capping the weight at 44 lbs (20 kg).
All airlines also have additional fees for overweight luggage, charging an average of $50-$200 or more.
Does Carry-On Luggage Have a Weight Limit?
Most US airlines don’t have weight restrictions for carry-ons, but you must be able to lift your bag into the overhead bin unassisted.
US carriers with weight limits include:
- Delta Airlines flights from
- Changi International Airport (SIN), Singapore: 15 lbs (7 kg)
- Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), Beijing, China: 22 lbs (10 kg)
- Pudong International Airport (PVG), Shanghai, China: 22 lbs (10 kg).
- Frontier Airlines: 35 lbs (15.8 kg)
- Hawaiian Airlines: 25 lbs (11 kg).
It’s also important to note that many international airlines do have weight limits for carry-on items, including:
- ANA: 22 lbs (10 kg)
- British Airways: 51 lbs (23 kg)
- EasyJet: 33 lbs (15 kg)
- Ryanair: 22 lbs (10 kg)
- Turkish Airlines: 17 lbs (8 kg).
There are various locations where travelers can weigh their luggage to make sure it isn’t overweight for their airline.
These locations include:
- Hotels and hostels
- The gym
- The post office
- Supermarkets and pharmacies
- The airport.
Alternatively, passengers can weigh their baggage with an everyday bathroom scale, try a DIY method, or invest in a luggage scale.
Table of Contents
- Common Locations To Weigh Luggage For Free
- Alternative Ways to Weigh Your Luggage
- What Are the Weight Limits for Checked Luggage?
- Does Carry-On Luggage Have a Weight Limit?