WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) -- The busiest travel season of the year is upon us. Flying is more expensive than ever, especially with several carriers issuing new baggage fees.
We've learned airlines raked in over $3 billion in bag fees last year alone. And those costs only go up when your luggage is overweight. But how do you know the scales that weigh your bags are even accurate? Are you being over-charged?
We wanted to know if your bags are getting a fair deal when you travel. So we called in the experts, and obtained copies of every test performed on the baggage scales at T.F. Green Airport.
Before travelers check their bags at the airport, many say they check their bags at home. "If we think it's close we'll weigh it," says traveler Jim Gibson. We've learned every major airline charges passengers for luggage weighing more than 50 pounds, with fees ranging from $50 up to $200.
But how do you know the scales weighing your bags are accurate? Bob Dunning is a Licensed Sealer with the state of Rhode Island. He says, "Inspections are done on a yearly basis. I make sure these scales are accurate, and if they're not, they don't use them."
We got an exclusive look at the series of tests Dunning performs on the scales at T.F. Green each year. We watch as he applies a weight to a scale. "This is 50 pounds," he says, "and the indicator will tell us whether it's accurate or not, to within a tenth of pound." The scale passes with flying colors. "50 pounds on the nose," says Dunning.
Eyewitness News also obtained copies of the most recent inspections of every other baggage scale at T.F. Green, which Dunning tested himself.
"All the scales here were accurate," he says. That's good news for local travelers, but we've learned that's not the case at several other major airports in the country.
Last year at nearby Logan Airport in Boston, inspectors found 39 percent of scales in just one terminal were inaccurate. At LAX in Los Angeles, 18 percent of scales failed inspection. And at JFK in New York, 11 percent of scales were inaccurate.
Major airports at the top of the list include O'Hare in Chicago with 97 percent of their scales accurate. Atlanta came in at 99 percent accurate, as did Orlando. "That's very reassuring," says traveler Lax Iyer. Passengers we talked to were happy to hear T.F. Green also weighed in on top. "See, Providence is good, right?" says Jeanne Orphan.
We've learned if a scale is found to be inaccurate at T.F. Green, it's put out of service until it's fixed or replaced. Officials say if you think the scale used to weigh your bag isn't working properly, ask the airline to use another scale.
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