Airports, especially in third world countries, are cesspools where shady scam operators conduct business. From shuffling unsuspecting tourists to taxi services charging three times the price of standard cabs to more sophisticated scams that involve airport officials, you may get in trouble before your vacation even gets started.
Here are three airport scams making their rounds.
Change trickery – Some scrupulous bureaus of foreign exchange charge outrageously commissions or a day rate when changing money at a specific time of day. A less sophisticated scam is folks haggling outside the airport looking to offer you change for your $20. Often times, the change falls short. Both bureau and individual are looking to take advantage of your lack of currency knowledge. Stick to a reputable bank or well-known exchange bureau and always keep a credit card handy.
Taxi scammers – Taxi scammers are everywhere. With different airport charging flat fees, extra fees, toll roads, and an infinite number of fee arrangements, it’s easy to fall prey to a $30 private cab ride. Here is a short list of taxi scams.
a) "Broken" meters leading to overcharging
b) Asked to pay in USD way above the exchange rate for the country's currency
c) Being driven the longest route possible. Watch for taxi drivers who ask you how you prefer to arrive at your destination. If you say "the fastest route" instead of providing a detailed route, you will most likely be scammed.
Bribes – It is not uncommon for airport employees to demand bribes. Reports out of Nigerian airports of officials withholding passports in exchange for money or small threats to hand over cash is everywhere. Carry as little cash as possible when you can. Letting the briber know you have as little as possible may convince them to let you on your way.
The best way to avoid airport scams is to know your route. Arrange a cab through the hotel, keep a small wad of cash in foreign currency taken from a reputable exchange bureau, and hightail it out of there as quickly as possible. And remember, always watch your bags.