Airport taxis: how to avoid getting ripped off on your travels

Not all taxi drivers are out to rip off tourists, but it can ruin your first impressions of a destination if it happens to you. Our writer, Gunnar Garfors shares his tips on how to avoid getting taken for a ride.

Source: drpavloff

Find out what the locals pay

There’s no substitute for a little Googling to find out the average fares from the airport to your hotel or other destinations you wish to visit.

Wikitravel can give you a reasonably good idea, but don’t forget Twitter contacts or friends familiar with the local taxi etiquette.

Staff at the airport information desk can also be reliable sources on cab fare prices.

Map the route before you go

Save money by studying a map to find out the best and cheapest route from the airport to your destination before you go. Leaving this until after your arrival may cost you dearly in phone roaming charges.

If you have a smartphone with built-in GPS, download the map of your route to your smartphone before setting off and follow the route you are being driven. Just remember to switch off the data roaming option on your phone at your destination.

Agree on a price

…before jumping in a cab. Legitimate foreign taxis should have a meter and if the driver sets off without putting the meter on, give him a polite but firm reminder.

Meters can be manipulated so if yours runs suspiciously fast, ask the driver to stop and find another taxi. In some countries, meters are well controlled or regularly monitored by the authorities.

But using the meter doesn’t always guarantee the cheapest rate. In the Norwegian capital, Oslo Taxi offers fixed fares between Oslo Airport Gardermoen and downtown, which can be a far cheaper option than using the taxi meter.

Check there are no hidden costs

Some drivers may add a price per piece of luggage at the end of your journey, even though you’ve agreed on a price in advance. Others may add an extra fee for each extra passenger, if it’s Easter or whatever creative reason they can come up with.

Shop around

Don’t be afraid to leave one taxi driver to ask for a second opinion or jump in a cab with someone else than you first intended. You may not like the driver’s attitude, the standard of the car or the smell of smoke inside. You’re paying for a service and are entitled to choose your service provider.

Cab share

If you make friends with a ‘local’ on your flight, ask them to organise a taxi for you. Most people will be happy to do this, and you will avoid most pitfalls.

Arrange a private transfer

Booking an airport pick-up through a taxi company in advance will give your arrival a VIP feel to it: just look out for your name on a handheld sign. Make sure you have agreed on a price and that the driver isn’t charging you for waiting time at the airport.  

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