Inspectors Check Scales at New York's Airports

Travelers girding themselves for the Thanksgiving crush at city airports can cross one concern off their lists: Recent inspections show scales used to weigh luggage are mostly accurate.

The city Department of Consumer Affairs checked all 810 scales last month at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports to ensure travelers weren't being overcharged for excess baggage weight. Some carriers have implemented new baggage fees to offset rising fuel costs.

"If airlines are going to start charging travelers left and right for their luggage, their scales better be perfect," DCA commissioner Jonathan Mintz said. "We're shutting down any airline luggage scale that doesn't get it right."

The DCA released the results of their inspections Sunday. The agency said 87 percent of the scales passed inspection during the first sweep. The remaining 102 scales were slapped with stop-use orders. The DCA requires broken scales to be recalibrated within five business days

When inspectors returned to the airports a second time last month to ensure all 102 scales had been calibrated correctly, they found 10 at JFK still had problems.

The DCA issued a written violation to American Airlines, which operated the faulty scales. The violation carries a $150 fine, DCA spokeswoman Beth Miller said. The airline could face additional fines when it appears at a December hearing for the violation, Miller said.

American Airlines says it spends tens of thousands of dollars each year having its scales checked for accuracy at all airports including JFK. Spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan says that usually "inaccurate scales will reflect positively in the customer's favor."

American Airlines charges $15 for the first bag and $25 for second if the luggage weighs under 50 pounds. Any bag over 50 pounds costs more, the airline said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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