Make sure your carry-on bag fits within the weight limit or risk a spot-check at the airport.

If you’re a carry-on only traveler (which a lot of us have become since checked baggage fees were introduced) then you might be wondering why you’d need to bother with weighing your luggage. After all, as long as your bag fits within the basic carry-on dimensions, you should be fine, right?

Not necessarily. As people attempt to cram more and more stuff into their carry-on bags in order to avoid checking any luggage, airlines have begun cracking down on carry-on suitcases that are too heavy. Whether or not you were aware, airlines have long had weight limits for carry-on items, although these were rarely ever enforced. Now, however, many passengers are arriving at airports with packed-to-the-brim bags only to find they are subject to weight checks during check-in or even at the gate.

Being forced to check what you had expected would be a carry-on item can be a real nuisance: you may forget to remove valuable items or things that could easily be damaged like electronics; you might accidently check things you need during your flight (medications, reading material); and of course, you could be slapped with a checked baggage fee.

But there’s a really simple solution to all of this – weigh your bag to ensure it falls under the airline’s limit. A portable digital luggage scale, like this one or this one will only set you back about $15-20 and could well save you a lot more than that in fees. A luggage scale is a great way of knowing if all the souvenirs you’ve picked up will put you over the weight limit or not (in which case you can continue shopping) but more seriously, it’s also a way for you to be able to counter the airline if they tell you your bag is too heavy when you know it’s not – airport scales aren’t always accurate.

Carry-on weight limits vary across airlines but range from 13-51lbs (6-23kg). You can see a list of weight limits here.

What do you think? Have you been forced to check a carry-on item? Do you weigh your own bags?