Although airlines are regulated exclusively by federal law under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, they aren’t exempt from all state laws — US Airways has been fined for state liquor law violations in the past, and occasionally there are state weights and measures investigations that find airline luggage scales to measure improperly, exposing carriers to state fines.
These scales get a ton of abuse. No doubt they aren’t all consistently well-maintained and adjusted. I’m quite sure the phenomenon isn’t limited to Arizona.
I’m actually rather surprised there hasn’t been an airline whistleblower working with a plaintiff’s attorney, as given the money involved in checked baggage fees and overweight baggage fees to the extent that scales are systematically off due to negligence in maintenance there ought to be a fairly compelling (to a jury angry at baggage fees!) class action suit in here somewhere.
Though an individual complaint may not get much sympathy from an airline, and arguing or demanding to see certification or maintenance logs at the airport at time of check-in if an agent is trying to charge you for an overweight bag may be more frustrating than productive, I do think asking questions about the precision of a scale is reasonable if one is being charged for a slightly overweight bag.
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