For those unfamiliar with taxi services, the safety precautions may not be obvious. A common scenario in which a novice taxi passenger may find themselves is when exiting an airport. There are some things to keep in mind should you find yourself in this situation.
Did you know that car service companies will illegally show up at airports trying to get airport travelers to take a ride? I didn’t know that until I needed to get a taxi ride from an airport to a hotel across town (hence why there wasn’t a hotel shuttle available). Being new to traveling alone, I wasn’t sure how to best get a cab. I asked a newsstand worker in the airport where to find a taxi. She directed me to a particular exit. As soon as I walked through the specified “taxi” exit I had a professional looking guy approach me asking if I needed a taxi ride. That seemed logical so I said, “Yes.” He told me the price and escorted me to a town car. But with no taxi sign on the vehicle I asked to see a business license. Even though he provided it I still didn’t trust him and simply asked a nearby business traveler what he thought I should do.
He steered me in the right direction, “If you did not reserve this car prior to arriving at this airport then you shouldn’t get in.” I took his advice and walked back to the door where I first found the “taxi” sign. I finally found someone that actually worked at the airport there on the sidewalk and had them point me towards where the official taxi line is. I found a taxi and was fortunate enough to share the ride with 2 other young ladies my age. While waiting for the other passengers to load into the vehicle, I overheard an announcement in the airport loading area saying. “Do not take rides from unsolicited car services.” Soon after I noticed security guards making a sweep of the area, and yet no longer saw the mysterious town car. I’m glad I stuck with my gut and asked lots of questions!
While that unsolicited car service was probably just an underachieving chauffeur company looking to gain new business and was not necessarily a safety threat (but you never know so be careful!), it was still illegal for them to be there begging travelers to ride with them. In order to keep airport transportation services safe, it is necessary for all to follow proper procedure.
Things to Remember:
-Airport Sanctioned Taxi Section
Airports have specified taxi sections where you can choose a cab. Find that area, look for an airport worker to be also be in that area, and proceed to choose a taxi. If the airport personnel is on the lookout, then you are assured this cab is supposed to be there offering rides to passengers.
-The Customer is Always Right
Never feel obligated by someone trying to sell you a service. You are in charge. Ask lots of questions and even if they give you reasonable sounding answers, remember you still have the right to say no if it doesn’t feel right.
-Ask for a Recommendation
If you still aren’t sure about a taxi, ask someone that works at the airport what taxi company they recommend and choose a taxi of that business.
-Calling to Book a Taxi
If you decide to call for a taxi, try not to let others overhear you. This can prevent a fraudulent taxi driver from approaching you claiming to be the one you called. Also, when your taxi arrives, ask, “Who are you here to pick up?” When they give you the correct answer (whatever the information may be that you left with the cab company, usually your name and perhaps your phone number) then proceed to accept the ride with the taxi. Do not ask, “Are you my taxi? My name is…” because anyone can simply answer yes whether they are your taxi or not.
-Information to Take Note Of
When you get into a taxi, make a note of the company name, driver’s name, taxi contact information, etc. should you need it. This can come in handy whether you leave behind luggage in the car or you need to make a complaint about the driver.
Now you are prepared should you find yourself needed a taxi out of the airport of an unfamiliar city in the United States. Here’s to your safe travels!