Entries in Overweight (3)


Faulty Scales Can Mean Higher Luggage Costs at Nation's Airports

Raygun/Cultura/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Airlines have come under fire recently for their many fees, including the ones they charge passengers for overweight luggage.  But are those fees legitimate?

Reporters from ABC's Good Morning America and ABC News affiliate stations across the country went along with inspectors from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Weights and Measures Division recently, checking the accuracy of airport luggage scales.

The NIST inspectors, along with ABC News' reporters, found inaccuracies that could mean a big difference for travelers.

At the Mesa Gateway airport in Phoenix, Arizona, the inspector, accompanied by a reporter with local ABC affiliate KNXV-TV, tested five scales.  Four of the scales did not pass inspection, and two had problems so severe they were closed until they could be fixed.  One of the problem scales did not zero out, while the other fluctuated wildly.

The airlines charge stiff penalties for overweight luggage.  For each bag weighing just one ounce over 50 pounds, Delta Airlines, for example, charges $90, and American and United Airlines each charge $100.  For bags that weigh more than 70 pounds, the fees shoot up even higher.

Of the 144 scales inspected at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the past year, six were out of compliance.  Bags weighed on those faulty scales seemed heavier than they actually were -- a discrepancy that costs travelers even more.

Scales fail inspection if they are even one-half of an ounce off the correct reading.

On a later, surprise inspection at LAX, NIST inspectors found no faulty scales, but only about 15 were tested that day.

GMA itself researched inspection data from 10 other airports.  Of the 2,615 scales GMA inspected, 5 percent were off.

The biggest offenders were John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, both in New York.  At JFK, 8 percent of the scales were wrong and, at LaGuardia, 7 percent were incorrect.

In some of the nation's busiest airports, scales were surprisingly accurate.  In Atlanta, only two of 264 scales were faulty.  At O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, just three scales were off.  And Dallas had only seven bad scales at its high traffic airport.

Before you start thinking that the airlines are out to get you, it's actually the airports that bear responsibility for servicing and monitoring the scales.  And, according to one of the inspectors, broken scales often make bags seem lighter, favoring passengers.

But there is something that passengers can do if they suspect a scale is off.

If a scale reads over or under the zero mark even before a bag is placed on it, ask the ticket agent to hit the reset button.  Moving your bags around also often changes the weight on a scale.

Another option is to ask that your bags be weighed on another scale.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Airways Unloads Increased Fees on Heavy Luggage

Photo Courtesy - USAir [dot] com(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Here's a little reminder for anyone planning to fly US Airways in the near future: travel light.

The carrier announced a series of price hikes for passengers who insist on taking everything with them but the kitchen sink.

These new prices, which apply to flights purchased now for travel on or after March 1, mean bags weighing between 50 and 70 pounds will cost $90, up from $50.  Previously, people hauling bags weighing more than 70 pounds were charged $100.  But, effective immediately, the fee is now $175.

US Airways said that checked bags fees will remain at $25 and $35 for the first and second bags respectively.  However, the price of all bags checked after that jumps from $100 to $125 each.

So far, no other airlines has announced similar price hikes for overweight and oversized luggage sizes.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obesity Costs Employers Billions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Obese Americans have increased the cost of health care, according to recent studies, but the doctor's office isn't the only place where obesity ups expenses: The workplace is another. Research released Friday by Duke University found the cost to employers of obesity among full-time employees was $73.1 billion a year.

Using survey data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey, the Duke researchers estimated the extent to which obesity-related health problems affected absenteeism, work productivity and medical costs.

While previous estimates looked mainly at the direct health care costs of obesity, lead researcher Eric Finkelstein, deputy director for health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore, and his colleagues found that "presenteeism," or the lost productivity incurred when employees try to work despite health problems, cost employers a whopping $12.1 billion per year, nearly twice as much as their medical costs.

Presenteeism was also the biggest cost among employees of healthy weight, but researchers found that obese workers accounted for a disproportionately larger share of overall presenteeism, absenteeism and medical expenses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the yearly medical costs of obesity are estimated at $147 billion, a figure that has ballooned of late, growing by more than 80 percent over a five-year period, recent studies found.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio