Wrong airport bag scales led to overchargingProbe found over 60 at Gatwick were inaccurate

04 April 2008

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Airline passengers have been left out of pocket by dodgy airport weighing scales.

A Trading Standards Institute (TSI) probe found that 62 of the 321 scales used at Gatwick Airport were inaccurate.

The scales in question showed a weight reading before any bags were put on them, which led to customers being overcharged for 'excess' weight.

At one airline, ten out of the 18 scales tested gave the wrong reading.

Excess charges

The TSI said the problem could easily have been avoided as all check-in staff at every airport in the UK can correct the indication on the scales by pushing a button.

Lacors is the organisation which co-ordinates trading standards officers (TSOs).  Its chairman, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, said: 'As more airlines start charging to check in luggage, it's important travellers know that their bags are being weighed accurately.

‘Council trading standards officers regularly check airport weighing equipment to make sure it's accurate.

Customers should always check the scales read zero first

‘Whilst the vast majority of weighing scales are accurate, customers should always check that scales read zero before checking in their bags and report any suspicious practices to their local council's trading standards service.'

Priority boarding

The TSI probe found that baggage fees were not being made clear by some online operators.

It also highlighted ‘a host of other practices in which airlines were making money without being upfront with their customers about their charges’.

These included ‘priority boarding' charges which did not give passengers a choice of seat on the plane, and an extra fee just to check in at the airport.

The TSI says airlines should be clearer about baggage limits and the excess charges payable, while check-in staff should be trained to make sure their scales are weighing accurately.