National Standards Authority of Ireland New Standards Shop

Buy Irish Standards Online

Skip to content
  • 346 airport baggage scales inspected by NSAI Legal Metrology in Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
  • Most airlines charge additional fees for over-the-limit bags; even a small amount of excess weight can result in a big hit on a passenger’s wallet.
  • NSAI advises people who suspect that a scale may be inaccurate to request a second test from airline staff and contact its Legal Metrology division.
  • Advice comes as NSAI Legal Metrology celebrates its 20th anniversary 

As millions of people prepare to pass through the country’s main airports over the summer months, NSAI is reassuring passengers that the baggage scales used by airlines are inspected regularly for accuracy. 

Overweight checked-in bags are often accompanied by hefty airline fees to compensate for extra handling and higher fuel costs, which can result in an unwelcome and unexpected addition to a traveller’s summer holiday budget.

While it is important that people are aware of their airline’s baggage allowance before they fly and pack accordingly, it is equally important that the scales used to weigh baggage at the check-in desks are accurate and displaying the correct figure.

“We carry out these regular inspections to give people the confidence that the weight displayed by the airport weighing scales is correct,” said Paul Turner, NSAI’s head of Legal Metrology.  “It also means that if excess charges are added based on a particular weight, people can be sure that they have been applied fairly,” he added.

NSAI is advising anyone who suspects that a scale may be inaccurate to ask the airline employee to test their bag on another scale nearby.  They should also ensure that a scale is at zero before weighing begins. 

Although airport scales are inspected regularly, their accuracy can drift from time to time through normal use and wear and tear.

“If people think that an airport scale is inaccurate, they should certainly bring it to the attention of staff at the check-in desk”, said Paul Turner, “They should also notify NSAI Legal Metrology and we will follow-up.”

Dublin Airport has welcomed this assurance from NSAI

“We have been working closely with NSAI and its predecessor for many years to ensure all airport check-in baggage weigh scales are accurate,” said Dublin Airport’s Managing Director Vincent Harrison, “As we approach the peak holiday season, this further reassurance from the NSAI means that passengers can be absolutely confident that the 270 baggage weighing scales across both Terminals 1 and 2 are accurate.”

NSAI is also publishing seven simple tips to help airline passengers reduce the weight of their checked-in luggage (Seven Handy Tips).  The guide aims to ensure that excess charges don’t weigh on people’s minds ahead of their summer holidays.

In addition to NSAI’s Legal Metrology inspections, luggage scales are checked nightly by airport electrical teams to ensure that they are both operational and accurate.  These checks are further supported by manufacturer-led certification inspections every six months.

“These tests, and the accuracy of the scales, are important for our customer airlines in respect of the weight and balance of an aircraft and the identification of overweight bags. Passengers too need to have trust and confidence in their accuracy,” said Niall Maloney, ‎Airport Operations Director at Shannon Airport Authority DAC.

“Outside of our own checks all scales are subject to external verification by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, which is done on an unannounced basis and is an important element of ensuring customer confidence in this operation,” he added.

NSAI Legal Metrology - protecting businesses and the customer

NSAI’s Legal Metrology division is currently marking its 20th anniversary in its current guise.  Since the division was incorporated into NSAI on May 12th, 1997, more than 240,000 measuring instruments used in trade have been inspected.  Legal Metrology inspectors check that these measuring instruments are accurate, ensuring consumers are not short-changed and businesses do not end up losing out on revenue.

Metrology – the science of measurement – has existed in one form or another almost since the dawn of human history.  It originated at local level, using rudimentary standards such as the span of the hand or the length of the arm.  By the start of the thirteenth century, the idea of regulating weights and measures by law had begun to take root.

Since then, consumers have been protected through regular inspections of measuring instruments like supermarket scales, taximeters and petrol pumps.  Additionally, with regular checks on airport baggage scales, NSAI is constantly working to ensure that strict quality standards can really take off.