The scales of injustice

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Holiday looming?

There’s so much to stress before you can relax.

Not the least of which is how not to fall pray to the airline’s exorbitant excess baggage charges.

The fear of the check-in scales; it’s taking over from the fear of flying.

Nothing gets a vacation off to a worse start than a fee and a fuming husband.

You’re probably about to splash out on a handy little luggage scale that looks worth its weight in gold.

Well, don’t bother. In my experience, they don’t help an ounce.

We bought one. Out it came as we packed the night before our flight. We thought we’d check the weight of the bags as we were packing them.

To make things easier.

But these things are very tricky to use.

You have to hang the handles of your case on the hook, just so. And the weight of the bag, suspended from the fiddly little device in your hand, wrenches down on your shoulder. The case then falls on your foot.

And the readings? They fluctuate wildly. It’s utterly ridiculous. One minute you’re two kilos under the weight limit, the next you’re half a kilo under. You add two T-shirts and discover you’re 1.3kg over.

A frenzy of packing, weighing, unpacking and re-weighing took us to 1am and, with just four and a half hours’ sleep ahead of us, we decided to call it a night, hedge our bets on the mean and take out a few cardies to be on the safe side.

At the airport check-in scales (who checks them, then?) one was over and one was under, but we were within our 40kg tally, so what the hell.

And when we were packing for the journey home, out once again came the scale we had lugged all the way to Italy, even though we now felt in our heart of hearts it was about as useless as a chocolate fireguard.

The bags now contained a bottle of wine, one bottle of olive oil (small; I worked out it’s cheaper in Morrisons), two leather handbags (teeny) and three linen shirts (flimsy).

But as we’d used up the shower gel, the sunscreens, the shampoo and conditioner, we figured we’d be about right. Another lengthy weighing session and switching of things from bag to bag finally produced an average reading which confirmed our theory.

And then, at the airport, the lad at the Ryanair desk goes and tells us we’re 4.5kg over.

What?? No way. That’s 9.9lbs. Had someone managed to slip a moderately-sized Christmas turkey or a rather large newborn baby into our luggage while we weren’t looking?

Even if your handy digital gizmo works more accurately than ours, it’s still got to measure up against the might of the airline’s big boys.

We were that embarrassed, flushed, sweating couple crouched next to the check-in desk, ripping open bags, ramming anything and everything non-liquid into our already bulging hand luggage.

We revisited the scales at the vacant check-in desk more times than a WeightWatcher the night before class.

Still over, and facing a hefty fee, in a last act of desperation I gave my book to a woman behind me in the queue and binned the remaining Ambre Solaire and a full bottle of aftersun.

We were still 1.5kg over, but, bless him, the Ryanair lad let us off. I don’t think he could bear to watch us any longer.

I’m regretting the aftersun now, though.

Why on earth didn’t I think to ditch the travel scale?