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What happens if your luggage is overweight when you check in?

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I've always done carryon when traveling to Europe and have been scrupulous about staying underweight. However, I have to check in a large amount of luggage for an upcoming trip. I'm hoping to stay in the weight limit, but I'm wondering what happens if I just can't. I've seen people at the airport pushing mountains of suitcases up to check in. What happens?

Also, I've seen people check in taped up boxes marked "fragile" "glassware." I guess those are purchases people are carrying home. I'm considering checking a well-packed desk computer. Am I nuts?

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