Today’s news:

City fines LGA for failing luggage scales inspection

The city Consumer Affairs Department issued more than 100 stop−use orders for luggage scales at the borough’s two airports during the past month and issued a violation to an airline that continued to use improperly functioning scales after an inspection, the agency’s commissioner said.

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz announced last weekend that the agency had conducted a month−long inspection of the 810 luggage scales at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports to ensure that airline customers were being fairly charged for checking bags. He said the inspection was initiated during a time of national economic downturn and increased airline luggage fees.

“If airlines are going to start charging travelers left and right for their luggage, their scales better be perfect,” Mintz said Sunday during a news conference at LaGuardia’s Marine Air Terminal. “The economy is in crisis, so times are stressful despite the fact that people will soon see their family and friends. Travel can add to that stress.”

Mintz said the agency found that only five of LaGuardia’s 140 scales failed inspection, but 97 of JFK’s 670 scales did not pass. He said American Airlines continued to operate 10 of its 28 scales that were found to be faulty after the airline had been told to fix them.

Mintz said the airline had been issued a violation and that all airlines were given five days to improve their scales.

American Airlines could not be reached for comment.

The agency placed red stickers, marking scales as “condemned” if they failed to pass the test. Mintz urged customers who will fly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to demand their baggage be weighed on scales without the stickers.

The agency has since re−inspected scales at both airports and found that all of LaGuardia’s scales were properly functioning and that 87 of the scales found to be inaccurate at JFK are now working, Mintz said.

In a Zagat survey of 10,000 frequent flyers’ views on the nation’s top 27 largest airports, LaGuardia ranked last, with a 6.8 point rating out of a possible 30 points. In addition, JFK ranked fourth from the bottom with a 9.6 rating out of 30 points.

The top ranked airport in the nation was Tampa International in Florida, according to the report.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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