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For immediate release:
Dec. 12, 2011
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, Washington
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Washington's airport baggage scales calibrate well in WSDA
OLYMPIA — Travelers at Washington’s
airports have a lot on their minds as they approach
airline check-in baggage stations this busy holiday
season, but having to worry about the accuracy of
airline scales used to weigh their luggage shouldn’t
Only one of 179 airport baggage
scales weighed inaccurately in favor of an airline.
According to inspections done at five commercial service
airports by Weights and Measures inspectors from the
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), 95
percent of the state’s airport scales meet stringent
weight and other compliance standards.
past few weeks, WSDA inspectors tested airport passenger
baggage scales across the state. The heaviest work load
was at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport where 120
scales at 13 airline check-in locations were inspected.
No scales were taken out of service; however, eight
scales were issued rejection slips for maintenance. Four
scales weighed too light in favor the traveler, meaning
the scale was shortchanging the actual luggage weight.
Four additional scales had software glitches that didn’t
allow travelers to see the weight readout for their
luggage, a requirement under national standards.
Last December, more than 1.3 million passengers boarded
flights at Sea-Tac Airport and consumers depend on the
accuracy of these scales.
baggage fees ranging from $39 to $400, it’s important to
travelers to be assured that the scales are accurate,”
said Jerry Buendel, manager of WSDA’s Weights & Measures
Program. “Travelers should be aware of their airline’s
rules and fees on baggage before they come to the
Buendel recommends that passengers
weigh their luggage before reaching the airport and be
prepared to move a few items to carry-on in case
adjustments are needed. Travelers can also ask that the
bag be reweighed on a different scale.
at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco was found to round up
improperly and was ordered out of service. All the
scales at Spokane, Yakima and Walla Walla airports were
in compliance. State inspectors noted that the scales
are maintained on a regular basis by scale-maintenance
companies registered by WSDA.
Travelers can look
for the WSDA sticker on the scale to see that it has
been inspected. Inspections are done in accordance with
National Institute of Standards and Technology
standards. Inspectors use up to 500 pounds of test
weights and pay particular attention to accuracy at the
50 pound mark. Accuracy requirements vary depending on
scale design but generally the tolerance is 0.2 pounds.
Scales found to be out of compliance are taken
out of service until repairs are made. In cases where
the scale is in favor of the consumer, the airline may
be allowed to continue using the device but repairs must
be made within a specified time.
Consumers can file complaints with WSDA Weights and Measures
by calling 360 902.1857 or through e-mail at
WSDA Weights & Measures officials work to protect consumers
and ensure businesses compete fairly. Inspectors test weighing
and measuring devices such as gas pumps, grocery store scales,
and truck scales. Weights and Measures also is charged with
verifying the quality of motor fuel sold in Washington.
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