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News from DCA - Press Release

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kay Sarlin/Elizabeth Miller/Beth Cohan, (212) 487-4283


DCA Inspects Every Airline Luggage Scale in New York City; Finds Initial 92 Percent Compliance and Issues 57 Stop-Use Orders for Failing Scales

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz today announced results of the Department’s 3-week enforcement sweep of every airline luggage scale used at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to ensure that scales are accurately calibrated and protect holiday travelers from luggage overcharges. DCA found 92 percent compliance in its initial inspections and issued 57 Stop-Use Orders to airlines for failing scales. Upon re-inspection of condemned scales after their recalibration by the airlines, overall compliance rose to over 99.7 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines collected nearly $670 million in baggage fees in the second quarter of 2009 alone.

“If airlines are going to charge consumers for checking their luggage and charge them even more if their luggage is overweight, then their scales better be working properly,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “Consumer Affairs inspectors are checking each and every scale in New York City’s airports, condemning faulty scales on the spot, and then going back to re-inspect them to make sure they’ve been fixed. We’d like to thank the Port Authority, as well as the staff at both JFK and La Guardia Airports, for their cooperation and assistance with our investigation.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs conducted an investigation of all 741 scales used by airlines operating in New York City airports to ensure that airlines are not wrongly charging holiday travelers for excess baggage weight. In the first round of inspections, 92 percent of 608 luggage scales at JFK passed the Department’s inspections, leading DCA to issue Stop-Use Orders for 48 faulty scales. The number of scales which passed DCA’s initial inspection is up nearly 6 percent from last year, when only 88 percent of airline scales at JFK and LGA passed. At LGA, 93 percent of the 133 luggage scales passed the Department’s accuracy test. DCA issued an additional 9 Stop-Use Orders to airlines for failing scales at LGA.

When scales do not read accurately, DCA issues Stop-Use Orders and a certificate of failed inspection for each failed scale, and requires the airlines to recalibrate the broken scales within five business days. Upon re-inspection, all of the 48 faulty scales at JFK were properly recalibrated. However, two of the nine faulty scales at LGA were still reading inaccurately and were condemned. The overall compliance after re-inspection was 99.7 percent.

DCA enforces the City’s Weights and Measures Laws and inspects more than 11,000 scales each year in grocery stores, bodegas, and the City’s airports. According to the New York City Weights and Measures Law, airport scales cannot read inaccurately by more than 1 pound. Overall, DCA inspectors report that New York City scales have achieved a 99 percent rate of accuracy.

DCA also enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other related business laws throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant marketplace for consumers and businesses, DCA licenses more than 71,000 businesses in 57 different industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships with community and trade organizations, and informational materials, DCA educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities. DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment is the first municipal office of its kind in the nation with a mission to educate, empower and protect New Yorkers with low incomes. DCA’s OFE administers a citywide network of Financial Empowerment Centers and other products and services that help these New Yorkers make the best use of their financial resources to move forward economically. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at


Editor Note: High resolution jpegs are available upon request.

DCA-Approved Scale Seal

DCA-Condemned Scale Seal