RyanAir is attempting to nickle-and-dime me to death.
July 5, 2007 11:52 AM   Subscribe

How do you, the reader, go about weighing a suitcase before a long trip?

As my departure date grows nigh, I'm about to start packing my new suitcase for my month-long stay in Ireland. Normally, I wouldn't really be concerned about weight, as the 50 lb limit imposed by most airlines is well away from what my clothing and supplies would reach - I usually try and pack lighter than most people, and I've actually been complemented by Customs agents for my packing skillz.

Anyway, the problem here is that RyanAir only allows your checked baggage to weigh 15 kg (approx. 33 lbs). While I know what the suitcase is supposed to weigh, I've got my doubts. Furthermore, the penalties for going over this limit are very harsh - £5/€8 extra per kilo(!), which is not a budget surprise I want to have when I get to the airport on Saturday.

So, I'm wondering, how do you weigh your suitcase? I was going to use a regular bathroom scale, but I'm worried that it will be too inaccurate, as the suitcase has parts on the bottom that will cause increased localized pressure on the actual weighing surface, which leads me to believe that this phenomenon will cause the scale to read artificially high.

What are your suggestions for me? The bag happens to be a very large wheeled duffel bag. Thanks!
posted by plaidrabbit to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
Weigh yourself, pick up the bag while still on the scale, get the difference between the two figures.
posted by jon_kill at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think the localized pressure will be a problem, but one way around it is to weigh yourself holding the suitcase and then without and subtract the latter from the former.
posted by winston at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2007

I weigh myself. Then I pick up the bag and weigh myself again. Then I subtract the two numbers. Bathroom scales might not be too even when weighing people, so you want to be sure to be under 15 kg, you had better leave a margin of error as well.
posted by grouse at 11:56 AM on July 5, 2007

Fed Ex, UPS, and most "mailbox" stores have those very precise heavy duty scales. If you go in and ask nicely, I'm sure they would do it for free.

Also, the mail room in my office has a scale for big packages.
posted by kimdog at 11:57 AM on July 5, 2007

Response by poster: Wow. Now that I've read these solutions, this sounds like a math competition brain-teaser. [foreheadslap].

Thanks for the quick responses!
posted by plaidrabbit at 11:59 AM on July 5, 2007

erm... not that you could use the scale in my office, but maybe you work in an office with such a scale.
posted by kimdog at 11:59 AM on July 5, 2007

I wouldn't go up to the exact weight limit no matter what scale you use. Give yourself a few Kgs of leeway because chances are you will be buying something on your trip. Normally I use jon_kill's suggestion.
posted by JJ86 at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2007

Take a 6 foot piece of 2x4. Balance it on a saw horse. Get two 15lb weights and hang from one end of the 2x4. Attache duffel bag to other end. If Bag hangs lower than the the two 15lb weights, or causes the balance beam to tilt in its direction, pack less.

Or, weigh yourself with the bag in your hands. Put bag on floor. Weigh yourself alone. Subtract the latter from the former. Viola, your bags weight.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2007

Keep in mind, if you reeeeeeeelly need to go a few pounds over, that airlines rarely weigh your carry-on purse/briefcase/laptop bag. (I've never flown RyanAir though, don't know if they'd be more stickler-ish.) That's where I put my heavy books that would tip the scale on my checked luggage.
posted by Kololo at 12:06 PM on July 5, 2007

@Kololo... be assured that RyanAir will weigh his bag, and will charge him for every ounce it's over the limit, because this is how they make their money as a discount carrier. Some friends flew RyanAir from London to meet me in Amsterdam last year. They weighed my friends' bag, put it on the conveyor belt to be loaded onto the plane, and AFTER it was gone, they told him that the over limit charge was £50.
posted by kimdog at 12:51 PM on July 5, 2007

I've flown on Ryanair about 15 times, and they have never once weighed my carry-on bag. It was usually a backpack, and many times it was practically popping open from being stuffed so full, and they were still fine without weighing it. (This was at many airports around Europe, but especially Glasgow Prestwick.)

So I wouldn't worry too much about moving some extra kilos to a carry-on.
posted by whataboutben at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2007

Travel writer Peter Greenberg has his say about Easyjet and RyanAir.
posted by theora55 at 3:36 PM on July 5, 2007

How do you, the reader, go about weighing a suitcase before a long trip?

I used to do the stepping-on-the-scale trick mentioned above, but I have not had a bathroom scale at home for some time now.

A couple years ago, when I was preparing for an international flight and was worried I'd be over the carrier's checked baggage weight limit, I called the airline's desk at my local airport the night before the trip and asked if I could bring my bag in and have them weigh it. They were very accommodating. So I drove myself and my fully-packed bag to the airport, lugged the bag up to the nearly-deserted check-in counter (not many evening flights from that airport), and got some friendly and quasi-official reassurance that the bag was within their acceptable weight limit.

The drive to the airport was not as convenient as weighing the bag at home, but on the other hand, it was nice to get the bag weighed on the same scale that would be used when checking in for my flight the next day.

This was at a tiny (less than a dozen gates) regional airport in the US, staffed mainly by friendly locals, at an hour when they were not busy with check-ins, and the airline was one of the major US carriers. YMMV.
posted by Orinda at 4:11 PM on July 5, 2007

Weigh yourself, pick up the bag while still on the scale, get the difference between the two figures

Or you could also get a spring scale, attach the bag to that, and lift it to see how much it weighs.
posted by hadjiboy at 6:36 PM on July 5, 2007

I haven't had any problems with the hold the bag, stand on scale, subtract weight method. The most I've been off wile doing it that way is about 3 pounds. Home scales may not be very accurate, but unless yours is just awful it should still be accurate to within 5 pounds. Just stay a little under the max weight and you should be fine.
posted by vegetableagony at 7:17 PM on July 5, 2007

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