I'm one of those people with excess baggage, both metaphorical and literal. And as a book lover, I need to use every ounce of the fifty pounds allotted for each bag because those foreign language books are heavy. France hasn't yet embraced the ebook revolution. Plus, when you are gone for two months that span two weather seasons, you need more clothes than for a typical short jaunt.
I've read articles about the unreliability of airport baggage scales, so I rely upon a travel baggage scale. My old analog scale died after long and heavy service (or maybe it committed suicide from all the excess weight it handled). I bought a new electronic scale and packed it and the receipt and instruction book in the front pocket of my suitcase, congratulating myself on my foresight. Before arriving at the airport I weighed each bag multiple times, always registering just under 50 pounds each.
When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport for check-in, each bag showed between 5 and 8 pounds overweight. No problem I thought.
"Ah bon, madame. J'ai pesé les valises avec cette nouvelle balance numérique chez moi and ça marche bien. Voici, je vais vous montrer."
Those of you who have spent time in France can commence laughing at my predicament. You will have guessed how little my scale mattered to the check-in personnel. And the other weigh-in counters were occupied with others going through the same drama. To make matter worse, she then weighed my carry-on luggage and announced that was too heavy as well. Since when did they start weighing carry-on luggage?
I started verbal tap dancing as fast as I could, in both English and French, without effect. I asked about the fees for overweight luggage. She quoted a price that was $100 above what the website lists. And for each bag. A total of $500! Her supervisor arrived and announced I would have to remove heavy items from my check-in luggage and put them in my carryy-on luggage, which didn't make any sense since that was already overweight too. And it was all going into the same plane, meaning no net difference.
I was digging through suitcases and shifting things back and forth like a quick change scam artist. Finally I asked her if the plane was fully booked. And it wasn't, so I used the 'E' word: exceptionnellement. Just this once. It must have given her a face saving way to let me on with my excess weight because she waved me through.
To show how desperate I was, I had considered telling her I had lost 20 pounds since I had arrived in France and couldn't she subtract that from my baggage weight? Little did she know I was also wearing two shirts and two sweaters under my coat whose pockets were full of heavy books. When I boarded, I looked like an Ellis Island immigrant without the shawl and babushka.
Of course I checked the electronic scale after arriving home and ça marche bien. It was the airport scales. I reviewed articles on airport scales and studies show results all over the place. Some airport scales register overweight, some underweight, etc. Apparently in the US, the states are in charge of validating the scales. I couldn't find out who regulates the airport scales in France. Not that it matters when you are confronted by someone full blown fonctionnaire mode. In retrospect, besides packing lighter, I wished I had carried a printout of airline baggage policy and overweight fees. What is your experience with airport scales? Have you had your carry-on luggage weighed as well as your check-in luggage?