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Airport taxi drivers are not all rogues – but neither are they all angels

Simon Calder’s Travel

“Thieves the world over,” said my Bosnian pal, Semir. I had just told him of my four-minute, £13 journey from Sarajevo airport in an airport taxi.

I had touched down from Luton and was heading for the Tunnel Museum. This sombre memorial to the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo is on the opposite side of the runway from the terminal. The man in the airport information booth insisted: “It’s too far to walk. There is no bus. You must take a taxi.”

Local advice should be respected, I usually find. So I wandered out and took the taxi at the head of the queue. At such moments it is generally wise to enquire, “How much will it cost?” But such a question carries with it a faint but inevitable implication of mistrust. Knowing that Bosnia is a low-cost country, I left it unasked, even when I noted the absence of a meter.

Four minutes later, the driver demanded 30 KM (“convertible marks”, worth £13).

How much? In such a dispute, though, the driver always has the upper hand. I asked for a receipt, which I later showed to Semir.

“He’s charged you extra for luggage,” my friend laughed when he read it. My single piece of cabin baggage was so modest that Wizz Air had not charged me extra for luggage. That was when Semir made his sweeping generalisation about airport taxi drivers.

Normally I use public transport from airports. On the rare occasions I take taxis, most drivers are friendly and reasonable value. Naturally, I remember most strongly the pockets of extortion: US$20 (£16) between the terminals at Jeddah airport; €40 (£35) for 10-minute rides from Venice and Catania airports in Italy.

When I posted my Bosnian experience on social media, it became clear within minutes I was not alone. Among a litany of rip-offs involving “credit card machines not working” and circuitous routes to the destination, some locations appeared repeatedly in fellow travellers’ responses.

At Istanbul airport, says Charles Bristow: “I was absolutely done there. I consider myself worldly wise, but they schooled me.” Even when you are in the city, writes Anne Abrahams, “Istanbul taxis are a rip-off, don’t use the meter, and try to negotiate absurd fares. Uber is available.”

Italy features heavily: Michael Brooks says that from Naples airport he was “absolutely fleeced” and had his baggage held hostage before he paid up. Lear reports an…

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