Flight suspects on trial & the great weigh-in: The best of handheld luggage scales (a short story)

Handheld luggage scales
A curated list of the top handheld luggage scales sold on Amazon.com.

The Story

Hey, I think I saw you at the airport. Yeah, that was you…down on your knees, encircled by three distended suitcases, a swollen duffel bag on wheels, and a giant backpack. Your friend was trying to help you but couldn’t keep up with the frantic pace at which you were digging into each bag for something heavy to transfer over to another one that wasn’t so bloated. Within two minutes, the floor around you looked like the kind you might see at an after-school daycare program.

“What’s so damn heavy?”, I’m sure your brain was shouting. You could feel the pressure. You were starting to sweat, you knew you were the center of unwanted attention in that moment. The guy who helped you carry in all that crap from the curb was looking at you…no, staring at you. Other ticketing agents were taking note.

The baggage handler behind the counter, waiting for you to finish up and get your stuff on the scale, was being patient, but hey, he’s got other things to do. Meanwhile, your ticketing agent was once again glancing at her wristwatch and realizing coldly that it’s only 5:30 in the morning and her day has but just begun.

She’s silently wondering why she told you that she’d be willing to wait instead of moving on to the next passenger and making you get the eff outta the way and then back in line with your sorry ass once you wrapped up this fiasco. Why did she pretend to care about how much the airline was going to charge you in overweight baggage fees and the damage that would do to your wallet?

What was she thinking, being nice and saying anything at all, she wondered. “I won’t be doing that again today”, she assured herself.

You continued with your musical suitcases game, and then the music in your head must have stopped. You zipped up one of the offending pieces of luggage, jumped up, and hefted it onto the cold metal plate of the industrial scale at the counter. All of you waited for this judge to wordlessly return its verdict.

With bated breath, everybody watched as the red digital numbers jumped around before they finally and silently settled on the finding that you and this bag were still guilty. We all know the court is rigged anyway, but still, c’mon man!

You cursed under your breath. The onlookers dug in for the next round. You tried to purposefully express via body language that this was no fun for you either, and in reality, it wasn’t that hard to accomplish. Your body language was already speaking volumes.

You returned to the task at hand with a look at your bags as if to say, “We need to get our stories straight, guys.” And then more unzipping and digging and transferring and moving and shoving and general ransacking ensued. You looked like you might be useful to have around if anybody ever needed their apartment turned over.

You even started using the scale there at your disposal to weigh individual items you yanked out from inside your bags, telling yourself you were going to get it right this time. It was half encouraging, half demanding. OK, maybe 60% demand, 30% encouragement and 10% confidence. Yes, there was a whole 10% for you to work with. With one final tug on a cinch cord, you threw one of the suspects up onto the judge’s table and, after further deliberation, the judge returned a verdict of… Innocent.

YOU DID IT. People exhaled all the tension that had accumulated. They almost started high-fivin’ and hugging each other. Now everybody was free again to go about their business, to proceed with their lives and work and get the hell away from you.

Jesus. What a freakin’ nightmare.

You told yourself you weren’t ever going to let this happen to you again but, wouldn’t you know it, months have passed and you still haven’t purchased anything that would really fit in your travel arsenal and help you avoid such a fail in the future.

No, we’re not talking about a body scale that you have to climb up onto while hugging your luggage as if the two of you were performing some awkward partner-yoga pose or dancing bachata in a dimly-lit nightclub. Doing it that way means subtracting your own weight to figure out how much the luggage itself weighs (if you can even read the damn numbers on the scale while you’re up there), and that’s not exactly the height of precision.

We know some of you are thinking, “Why couldn’t I just use a shipping scale, or that scale I bought to weigh my baby/toddler/fat cat. But who are you kidding, you know those bags don’t stand up on their own, and all the same those things aren’t very portable!

Nah, it’s high time you got yourself a slick, useful, handheld luggage scale. Here’s a hand-picked list of top candidates being sold on Amazon.com that are Prime eligible. These are the best of the popular best, each with 1k reviews or more. Right now, they are also going for less than $15 each.

The List