This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Disclosure, visit this page.

There are so many scams out there these days, my head spins just thinking about them, which is why travelers have to be on the lookout 24/7 when they’re away from home. RELATED: Travel Writer Exposes New Scam Involving European Subways and Trains

I recently read about a new scam and if I told you it was done by an agent working for a U.S. airline, I bet you would think it was one of the low-cost carriers like Frontier or Spirit. As I’ve written about before, gate agents for Frontier, for example, have been known to tell customers that their bags are too big even though they fit in the baggage sizer, so they can charge them $99 to bring it onboard. That’s right, $99 for a carry-on bag. That’s why their initial fares are usually so low; they nickel and dime customers for everything else. Worse, the agents do it because they get a $10 bounty. Here’s that story.

This new scam (at least, it’s new to me) was allegedly done by a United Airlines employee and it happened this week at Newark Liberty International Airport inside Terminal C.

According to Reddit user @phunkayyy, he got scammed by the employee in a sneaky but clever way. He wrote, “Flying out of EWR/Newark yesterday. Tagged my bag and took it to the nearest open agent to be weighed. I put it on the scale and it read 47lb then the number started slowly climbing until it went up to 50.5lb. I thought it was weird because when I left for the trip my bag weighed 42lb and I didn’t buy anything in NY. The employee says, “ah, don’t worry. I don’t see anything” and gives me a high five. In my naivety I thought, wow that’s so kind. Then he says, “but you can leave my tip right there” pointing to an inconspicuous spot on the counter. I asked if he was for real, he said yes so I left him $5.”

He goes on to say, “I thought something was off but it wasn’t until I walked away that I realized I just got scammed. I couldn’t see his feet so I don’t know for sure but as soon as I got home I weighed my bag and it was 43.7 lb. Also when he took the bag off the scale it read -0.5lb but I’m not sure if that means anything?”

An employee at EWR bag drop put his foot on the scale until my bag weighed 50.5lb then demanded a tip to look the other way – what should I do now?
byu/phunkayyy inunitedairlines

Yes, it does mean something. It means he got scammed and thanks to his post, thousands of other travelers can now be on the lookout.

First of all, if you subscribe to my newsletter, then you know I’m always preaching that it’s best to travel with carry-on only for a number of reasons. This incident just adds another reason to that growing list.

I know it’s hard to not check a bag and when I’m with my kids or going to a winter destination, I always have to pack a large suitcase. However, I’ve never once had an agent try this trick, probably because they’re good, hardworking people or they know there are cameras everywhere.

There have been countless times when my bags have been over the allotted weight limit and the agent has given me the choice of either paying extra (usually $100) or pulling some stuff out.

I once had to do the opening of shame and open my bag right there at the counter. If this ever happens to you, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. I suggest using packing cubes, which makes it easy to simply remove one from your suitcase instead of dealing with loose items falling everywhere. The Nomatic compression packing cubes are hands-down our favorite — and we’ve tried a lot! Also, always keep a packable bag that folds flat, like this foldable BAGSMART tote, tucked into your suitcase so you can fill it quickly with your excess items if you need to lighten your bag. It’s always smart to have a foldable tote packed in your bag anyway, for a multitude of reasons like if you need a beach bag, a shopping bag, a tote for the grocery store or a local farmers market.

It’s also smart to travel with a portable luggage scale that costs under $20 and is the size of a fat cigar. Because if an agent tried to pull this on me and I knew my bag weighed a certain amount, I would pull out my scale. If they didn’t believe my scale reading, then I would take my bag to another counter’s scale and weigh it there because there have been times when airline counter scales are off (yes, sometimes for dubious reasons).

YouTube video

According to travel expert Peter Greenberg in the video embedded above, “the scales at the airport check-in counters are not inspected very often and even worse, there’s no Court of Appeals.”

On the flip side, I have heard of passengers doing the complete opposite, i.e. using their foot to lift a bag slightly off the scale or lifting the scale itself like in the video below. I definitely don’t recommend doing this because it’s important for airlines to know the weight and balances of their cargo and you don’t want to be blacklisted from an airline or worse thrown in jail (depending on the country).


@bed.sweater the baggage lady was cool about it #airport #music #band #explore ♬ All Keyed Up – Ben Tankard


How to Save Money With a Secret Third Carry-On
How to Use Your Wireless Headphones to Watch In-Flight Movies
10 Airport Security Hacks Every Traveler Should Know
How to Get the Best Coach Seat on the Plane
The Sleep Hack Every Traveler Needs to Know
Never Get Your Valuables Stolen on the Beach

Want more travel news, tips and deals? Sign up to Johnny Jet’s free newsletter and check out these popular posts: The Travel Gadget Flight Attendants Never Leave Home Without and 12 Ways to Save Money on Baggage Fees. Follow Johnny Jet on MSNFacebook, InstagramPinterest, and YouTube for all of my travel posts.

1 Comment On "United Airlines Agent Suspected of Scamming Passenger Over Bag Weight"
  1. David R. Miller|

    Scumbags are everywhere. Whenever possible, I go to another airlines unattended scale and weigh my bag(s) before checking my bags with the airline I am flying.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *