Never Pay Excess Baggage Fees Again, Thanks to This $12 Travel Tool

published Mar 14, 2023
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Credit: Daniel Kim/Stocksy

My one tip for saving money on air travel is this: play the airlines’ games. I don’t enjoy planning vacations around when flights are cheaper or giving up the option to choose my seat, but I do like spending less, and I’m willing to engage with an airline’s annoying policies in order to do that. I’m happy to claim my wife’s purse as my carry-on if it means saving $30, and until I miraculously have money to burn, I’ll probably keep doing it.

One airline expense I’ve always refused to pay is the excess baggage fee. I like to think I have a decent sense of whether my suitcase weighs under or over 50 pounds, but I have gotten it wrong in the past and I remember the stress of rifling through my luggage on my hands and knees, trying to figure out what I can transfer out of the suitcase to balance its weight. It’s a terrible anxiety-inducing guessing game, and there’s a foolproof way to avoid it. The secret is this $12 gadget I found on Amazon.

This tool is a digital scale that weighs your luggage before you get to the check-in desk at the airport. That way you know early on whether your bag is overweight and can make any adjustments that you might need to. You use it by hooking the dangling strap through any luggage handle — which means it works on rolling suitcases, backpacks, and any kind of travel bag — and lifting your luggage slightly off the ground. The weight will display on the device’s screen, then you can unhook the scale and stow it away.

Considering most airlines charge $100 for any bags that are over the standard 50-pound weight limit, this $12 tool pays for itself by the first use. And if you bring it with you, you can be sure to avoid excess baggage fees on the way back from any souvenirs or purchases you may have picked up during your trip. Our Shopping Director, Jada, has been using this scale since 2016, and for her it’s become an invaluable travel necessity. “It’s still the only luggage scale I own and use because it’s such a no-frills workhorse,” Jada says.

Credit: Amazon

Getting started with the scale takes no time. “You just pop in the included battery, set it to the measurement unit you need with one of two buttons on the scale, and loop the belt around the handle of your suitcase. In a few seconds, the weight appears on the large, easy-to-read screen,” Jada says. Over the past six years, Jada has used the scale once a month, and she’s only had to change the battery a few times. She also likes that it doesn’t take up room in her bag. “The scale is tiny, like the size of a granola bar, and sturdy, so you’re able to cram it into your luggage without issues.”

Do yourself a favor and pick up this inexpensive gadget now. That way, when you’re getting ready to take your summer vacation (it’ll be here sooner than you think) you’ll have one less thing to worry about — and an easy way to avoid the most annoying airline fee.