Over the past few years, airlines have learned to monetize every square inch of your luggage. Although air travel is cheaper than ever before, at the same time, you’re at risk of getting nickel-and-dimed by fines and fees every step of the way. If you love traveling or find yourself frequently traveling for work, then you already know all about airline fees. The first bag costs you, the second bag costs you more, and further bags can carry ridiculous charges. For overweight bags, the fees are even worse.
For many people, a $50 bag fee may be a best-case scenario. Many major airlines charge $100 or more for any bag that’s heavier than a relatively light 50 lbs. For a more commonly sized 100lbs of luggage, you’re looking at closer to a $200 per bag fee, or as much as $400 for the same bag on many international routes.
What’s the difference between a 98lb bag and a 51lb bag? Depending on the airline you’re flying with, the difference can be hundreds of dollars per bag. There’s little worse than realizing you got hammer with a giant fee because you were two-pounds overweight. And that’s bad enough for a one-way flight.
Avoiding Nightmare Scenarios
But where people really get hit with fees is when they bring perfectly weighed suitcase to their destination, pack on some souvenirs, and get dinged with fees on the return flight. When you’re trying to make a flight, having to dig through your bags at the last minute isn’t a situation anyone wants to be in.
If you don’t weigh your bags at all or are cutting it close on the weight limit, you may find yourself having to repack or otherwise make last minute changes to your bags during check-in. Nobody likes to face the stress of having to suddenly decide which of their possessions to discard so you don’t miss your flight, or eat a $200 fee just to bring home some t-shirts. But a luggage scale can prevent all that.
For a frequent flyer, being able to avoid incurring those kind of fees rapidly adds up to more than a little in savings. Even if you only spend a small amount of time traveling, a luggage scape will immediately pay for itself ten times over if it helps you avoid even one fee, one time. And you can get the best luggage scales in the world for less than $20. As long as you can remember to pack it, and take the time to measure your luggage, you’ll be set to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars over years of flying.
Choosing a Digital Luggage Scale
For choosing a scale, the first thing you should think about is weight capacity. Even the heaviest luggage is typically no more than 80lbs. And paired with the fact most airline fees line up with a 100lb limit, having a digital luggage scale that’s rated to support about 100lbs is ideal. Unless you’re carrying an antique brick collection on the flight with you, 100lbs should me more than enough. Smaller weight designs may be more lightweight and portable, but are only suitable to modestly sized bags that are rarely in danger of fees to begin with.
Backlit displays are easier to read, and they’re more aesthetically attractive. They help ensure you can see what’s on the dial, even if you’re packing up and preparing to head out to the airport in the dead of night. If squinting and struggling to read an awkwardly hanging LCD screen, then you can hardly be blamed if you mistakenly get measurement wrong and end up eating a bag fee. On the other hand, the extra light of a backlit LCD screen has to come from somewhere, and that brightness is going to cost you battery life.
For any product with physical hardware involved, it’s a good idea to consider a warranty. Without the protection of a warranty, you’re at the mercy of fate. You may end up with a perfectly good product, and you might end up with some machine-made manufacturers defect that makes your scale dead on arrival.
Portability and Flying
For flying, batteries are carry-on only. For that reason alone, you’ll want to think about the portability, size, and weight of a digital luggage scale. Whether or not you’ll be able to find a nice space for the scale will hinge partially on the design of the device, and partially on the way you pack your luggage. There’s always a minor element of personalization among these devices that ensures you may end up liking for form of one scale more than another.
Truthfully, until you’ve tried a product, you’re just not going to know if you like it. The way it feels in your hand, how well it sits in your luggage, even the physical appearance of the casing is something you can’t really appreciate until you’re actually using it. That’s why it can be useful to have a satisfaction guarantee. Travel companion hardware is something that you’re going to be spending time with, and the last thing you want is to be carrying around with you is junk that frustrates you every time you have to use it.
AmazonBasics Digital Luggage Scale
AmazonBasics isn’t about premium quality materials, unmatched engineering, or about making the best products in the world. AmazonBasics is about offering inexpensive solutions for a general audience on a budget. Their digital luggage scale is exactly that, a scale that aims for the middle and hits the mark perfectly.
The AmazonBasics digital luggage scale sports a maximum weight capacity of 110lbs, which is more than enough for carrying even the most burdensome luggage. It has error indicators and a low-battery light, so if there’s a bad read you’ll know it. And after you’ve had a few trips with this scale, the indicator light will ensure you’re not left stranded when the battery decides it’s time is almost up.
Like you want from most scales, this digital luggage scale has a zero and tare function to help calibrate the device. You can also use tare to weigh the contents of a bag without considering the weight of the bag itself, which is useful for determining precisely how much the contained stuff weighs. This scale is also relatively compact, and the shape has been slightly contoured to help you get a firm grip.
Build & Design
AmazonBasics makes use of a CR 23032 battery, which is the same powerful battery that runs computer motherboards. As far as machine batteries go, CR 23032 is common enough to easily replace and be relatively inexpensive. Plus, when was the last time you had to change the battery on a motherboard?
The easy to read LCD readout can be toggled between kilos and pounds, which can be important for anyone traveling outside the United States. Most of the world uses the metric system, and you can expect metric weights to be listed for virtually every international airline. Having pounds is great for America, but having the metric system is essential for international flights.
Tarriss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale
People who are no strangers to air travel don’t want a luggage scale that’s better equipped for casual flyers. The Tarriss Travel Gear scale is housed inside sturdy stainless steel that makes it clearly built to last. Some people will hate that the display doesn’t include a backlight, which detracts from its visibility in the dark and from the aesthetic of the device. However, others will love that the lack of a backlight ensures your battery life is far better preserved. For a frequent flyer who will end up using their scale more than a couple times a year, Tarriss is a no brainer.
Build and Design
Most noteworthy about the design is the included CR2032 battery, which is rated to last long in any device, but will last even longer with here because of Tarriss Jetsetter’s decision to not use backlighting. An LCD without backlighting looks more like a calculator screen than a computer monitor, but it does take a lot of juice to power that aesthetic.
When you hear about digital luggage scales advertised in travel journals or professional literature like the Huffington Post, the name that comes up again and again is Tarriss Jetsetter. That’s because they’ve made great design decisions at every juncture. Their lightweight design supports 110lbs (50kg), while maintaining a weighing accuracy within 0.2lbs. And Tarriss is confident their product can hang in it for the long haul, so they’ve included a lifetime warranty.
EatSmart Precision Voyager Digital Luggage Scale
Sometimes the difference between two accurate scales really breaks down to the details. EatSmart makes design decisions that are certain to divide people. Some people will love this scale, and others will find it just another face in the crowd.
One of those more divisive features is the after-measurement beep. After any measurement has been completed, the Voyager scale uses a beeping sound to alert you its LCD is ready to be read. Your reading will remain on the screen for about 10 seconds to help you get a good look, without draining too much battery life in the process. For some people, that’s a nice ease of use decision. For others, it’s a way to potentially disturb others with a sound anytime you take a measurement.
Build and Design
The Voyager has a maximum capacity of 110lbs (50kg) and a weighing accuracy of a tenth of a pound. If you ever think you’ll find yourself pushing your bags to their weight limits, you don’t want a scale any less accurate than 0.1 pounds because that’s a mistake that can quickly become very expensive.
Voyager has a smooth grip that’s useful for helping you lift heavier bags, and can quickly be taken from measurement to measurement by tapping the on/off button one time. The included CR2032 battery is rated to last and won’t give you any problems at the airport.
In terms of downsides, the Voyager is somewhat bulky relative to other scales on the market. It uses a 5.2 x 1 x 3.5-inch build, and weighs about six ounces. But it also includes a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so there’s no risk in seeing whether or not you like using this digital luggage scale.
Choosing Between 3 Accurate Portable Digital Luggage Scales
If you’re a casual flyer and you don’t plan on putting much mileage on your scale, then you’ll be perfectly happy with the AmazonBasics digital luggage scale. AmazonBasics is all about providing essential products at highly competitive pricing. But the basics brand isn’t about high quality or lasting value. Under strenuous use, AmazonBasics products aren’t going to hold up. On the other hand, most people don’t live out of an airport. And if you’re only taking two or three flights a year, AmazonBasics can be an inexpensive solution that’s perfectly adequate for a casual flyer.
If you’re packing your bags right up to the limit, then you’re going to want a luggage scale with a reliable degree of precision. Being off by half-a-pound can quickly turn into an unexpected $200 fine. The EatSmart Voyager is the only digital luggage scale that’s reliable to a sharp 0.1-pound degree of accuracy. Plus, EatSmart is confident you’re going to like what they’re offering, and they’ve made sure there’s no risk in trying with their 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Frequent flyers will want the Tarriss Jetsetter digital luggage scale. Like EatSmart, Tarriss has included a complete satisfaction guarantee, but they’ve also backed it with a lifetime warranty. The lack of backlighting will keep your battery going far longer than most other digital luggage scales on the market, so there’s no reason to expect anything less than hundreds of flights of quality use with a Tarriss.