Tolerated amount of weight exceeding upper limit for hold luggage
Recently, I was booked on a flight on EasyJet between two European capitals. I had a ticket allowing me for one bag of max 20 kg. However, when my bag was weighted at the check-in counter, it weighted 20.9 kg but (to my surprise) the lady at the counter told me it was "ok".
So my question: is there a "tolerated" amount of weight exceed (for example max + 1kg above the upper limit) or was this only a matter of chance that I didn't have to pay a fee for the exceeding weight (ie 900 g)?
This question concerns EasyJet in particular but it would be interesting to know if similar can be applied to other airlines.
If there was an official amount that was always tolerated above the maximum allowed that would be called the maximum allowed.
The problem is, if the airline advertised their tolerance as an actual figure (say, 22kg), people would pack 22.5 kg instead of 20.5kg - so airlines will likely never have an "official" tolerance...
Depending on the culture and your luck, if you can ask another passenger with light luggage to claim that you are traveling together, then your excess weight can be counted towards the unused allowance of the other passenger.
Basically, it's at the check-in counter employees discretion and depends on factors like how friendly you are, how many checked bags they have / expect, and whether they have had a good night's rest. Note that basically, they are providing a service and anything you get over and above the official rules is courtesy on their part, not a right on yours.
In my experience, anything under a kilo and they'll usually turn a blind eye to, since it's not worth the effort to make me repack and for them to process my bag again. Above that, anything goes.
I can't give you an answer specific to Easyjet but based on flying various airlines within Europe over the last few years I can only say:
It depends. Sometimes you get lucky and can carry a few kgs more than the allowed, sometimes they will only admit 0.5 kg more than your limit.
Some rules of thumb, without being able to cite from anything,
- If you are on a business class ticket or have status with an airline, I would expect them to be more tolerant.
- Being nice often helps, but not always of course. Also explaining that this is a one-time occurrence has helped me in the past.
- Traditional airlines are somewhat more lenient than low-cost-carriers.
- Some traditional airlines now have automated bag-drops, if you have the choice a human operator would be more willing to waive a few kgs.
- I have made the experience that distracted staff is much more likely to have you pass with a few kgs more.
- A few hundred grams of overweight are almost always tolerated.
On the same airline, always with a standard economy ticket, I was once able to check 5 kg over the limit, when another time witnessing a friend having to re-pack because of 1.5 kg more than allowed. YMMV.