23kg = 50.7 lb. I know that typically the check-in counter agents would allow check-in luggage to be above 1 lb the maximum free authorized weight, but just in case some agent decides to strictly apply the luggage weight policy.

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If specific to the airline, I'm currently interested in Qatar Airways. If specific to the departure airport, I'm currently interested in SFO.

  • 1
    If you want to be absolutely sure just pick the lower limit.
    – jcm
    Mar 12, 2021 at 6:53
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    @jcm true but I'd prefer to know the actual policy to make sure that I don't unnecessarily restrict myself. Mar 12, 2021 at 6:54
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    My guess is that for countries that follow metric system Kg limit is followed & for countries that follow the imperial system, lb limit is followed. So check-in agent will follow whatever scale the weighing machine uses unless it returns values in both scales in which case you should be okay if either of values are within limits. If you are really splitting hairs your nonfree limit is actually 70lb/32kg per your comment.
    – RedBaron
    Mar 12, 2021 at 8:07
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    I wouldn't assume the scale (yours or at the airport) will always be that precisely calibrated (you are talking about a 320 g difference). Note that 23kg is indeed close to the recommended limits for handling (it also depend on the body position, height, and specific movements you have to do; if you are doing it all day the limits per item are lower). In theory, safely handling 32 kg requires two people or handling equipement (which would justify charging for it).
    – Relaxed
    Mar 12, 2021 at 9:08
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    I second relaxed here. The scales used at check-in are not accurate and many even show different weights depending on where on the 'platform' you put your bag. I had an argument with an airline a few years ago as they wanted to charge 2kg overweight for a bag, which was definitely below the limit when I checked at home before leaving and after some discussion, they cockily offered me to try a different scale just to prove that they have accurate scales and voila, the two scales showed more than 3kg difference. Mar 12, 2021 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


In my experience airlines almost never enforce these limits that precisely. I've been allowed to check bags weighing a little more than the limit on several occasions.

When they do enforce the limit precisely, they use the units of measurement that prevail in the place where you are checking in. I have been held strictly to the limit on only two or three occasions. The limit was 50 lbs in the US and 23 kilos everywhere else, notably including the UK.

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    They are usually a bit flexible on the 50 lb/23 kg limit, though much less on the 70 lb/32 kg max (as this one is a hard limit to protect workers). Low-cost airlines which have a much finer granularity (e.g. Easyjet has 3 kg steps IIRC) may also be a bit more strict.
    – jcaron
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:29
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    @jcaron my most memorable experience was with Norwegian Air Shuttle in London, where the limit in question was for the carry-on, from which I removed one sweater after another, put it on, and re-weighed the bag, until finally they gave up and let me take it without charging (and before I had it under the limit). This was not an entirely disingenuous exercise because I was actually planning on wearing all of these layers on the plane because I had been desperately cold on the outward journey.
    – phoog
    Mar 12, 2021 at 15:00

In my experience they look the weight in the scale, which it is not so precise and it has just one unit. SFO: I expect they will have lb-only scales, and so they would check just this number. I'm not sure they can convert easily the weights.

The only problem arrise if you have a domestic flight later (and possibly to a domestic only airport), in a metric country. In this case you may pass custom with your baggage and check it again. Arguing with transfer desk is not always the best way to pass time with a short connection. OTOH it should not matter: the rule of the longest flight should be applied on checked baggage.

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