How To Use Manual Luggage Scale?

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The small knick-knacks you buy from every place you visit eventually add to your bag’s weight.

You can avoid expensive airline surcharges by weighing your bags before going to the airport to ensure your luggage is still within the limit.

Learning how to use manual luggage scale is a great way to save on paying overweight baggage fees during your air travels.

Compared to digital models, it doesn’t need batteries, nor does it have complicated electronics.

Why You Need a Luggage Scale

The weight limit for a carry-on bag mostly depends on the airline company and its regulations about these limitations.

The rule of thumb is that cheaper airlines have weight limit regulations, while more expensive ones don’t have that restriction.

Sometimes, airlines companies have separate restrictions for carry-on bags and checked luggage.

The exact limit typically differs per airline, but the usual range is between 15 to 50 pounds for carry-ons.

Most airlines have a 50 to 70 pounds weight limit for checked luggage and an additional $50 to $200 based on the overweight amount.

If you don’t want to throw away this much money just for failing to meet the limit, your best bet is to invest in a luggage scale.

There are three types available: manual, digital, and hybrid. However, the most common ones you see are the first two.

How To Use Manual Luggage Scale

All manual luggage scales do not need batteries to function. They usually feature a dial with two hands to weigh items.

Most of these scales have a stainless-steel hook for hanging on your bag’s handle securely.

On the other end of the manual luggage scale is a sturdy handle for lifting the bag to get its actual weight.

As you lift the bag, the dial hands will move to measure the weight. Once detected, one of these hands will stop moving to indicate the result.

You can put the bag down and check the weight reading.

The best manual luggage scales will have at least two measurement units: kilograms and pounds.

They are also almost plain-looking, which could be the reason why some people still prefer them over digital luggage scales.

Are Manual Luggage Scales Accurate?

If we were to compare it with digital luggage scales, you likely wouldn’t get the same level of accuracy.

This is true for the simple reason that manual devices do not have the weighing technologies that make digital models accurate.

Using a manual scale heavily relies on the user’s observations and calculations, so there’s a big chance for errors.

If you weigh your luggage several times, you will still only get a good estimate of its actual weight.

That said, where manual luggage scales stand out is in how budget-friendly they are. In fact, some units cost no more than a few bucks.

As mentioned, they also don’t need batteries, so you won’t have to worry about running out of power like you would with digital luggage scales.

tips on how to use manual luggage scale

How To Weigh Luggage Without a Scale

Apart from using one of those bodyweight scales you typically have at home, you might want to try a balancing technique to weigh your luggage.

You will need the following materials:

  • Plank
  • Water-filled bottle for balance
  • Items indicating its weight, like dumbbells, dry food packages, or the water-filled bottles
  • Someone to help you

Here’s what you need to do to weigh your suitcase.

Step 1: Put the water bottle in the middle of the floor and place the plank on its top center.

Step 2: Place the bag on one end of your plank, asking your assistant to hold it steady.

Step 3: On the other end of the plank, gradually add your items with known weights until you reach a balance.

Step 4: Double-check to see that the water bottle is still in the middle of the plank to ensure your equilibrium.

Step 5: Add up all the items you have used on the other end of the plank to determine the weight of your bag placed on the other side.

You can try other balancing techniques if you don’t have a luggage scale to use. Just make sure that what you use can support the weight of your bags.

Where To Weigh Your Luggage

On the way to the airport but have no way to check if your luggage is within the limit?

There are many ways to determine the weight of your luggage if you don’t have your own scale yet.

Some select places within your vicinity will let you weigh your luggage for free or for a minimal fee.

If you don’t have enough time to go around your area, you can head straight to the airport and use the weighing scales inside for a minimal fee.

The downside of doing this at the airport is the possibility of having to rearrange your luggage or discard items to avoid exceeding your limit.

Here are some of the possible places where you can go:

Hotels and Hostels

Many establishments have weighing scales around the lobby for their guests to use if they stay in a hotel.

Alternatively, you can ask the concierge if there is an available one.

Local Gym

If there is a gym nearby, you can call and ask if you can use one of their scales to weigh your luggage before going to the airport.

Most gyms have scales that their clients use to monitor their body weight.

Post Office

Since people sending out parcels need to know the weight of their packages, post offices have a device to get that information.

You can ask staff from the post office if you can use one of their weighing scales to check the weight of your bag.


Some US supermarkets have weighing scales placed at the entrance for the customers who want to check their body weight.

If you don’t have enough time to go around your area, you can head straight to the airport and use the weighing scales inside for a minimal fee.

The downside of doing this at the airport is the possibility of having to rearrange your luggage or discard items to avoid exceeding your limit.

The Simplicity of Manual Luggage Scales

Knowing how to use manual luggage scales will help you avoid additional fees for excess baggage.

You can use it anytime and anywhere because it doesn’t need a battery to function.

It’s so easy to use that you will only need to attach the strap to your bag’s handle and lift. The dial hands will then show you the reading.

Note that it’s not the most accurate, especially compared to digital luggage scales.

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