Airport scams are common. If you have ever traveled, you probably know at least one person who has fallen for it. Every bag handler or taxi driver is an expert on airport scams and how to avoid them.

Here are some of the most common airport scams and how to avoid them.

The following is not an exhaustive list but should give you a good idea of what to look out for.

Taxi Scams

One of the most useful travel tips you will ever receive is never to take a taxi from the airport. Airport taxis are overpriced. Also, the drivers tend to be complete jerks who will rip you off in any way they can.

Note: That’s obviously not always the case but, alas, in 8 years of traveling all around the world I tend to agree.

The exceptions here are very rare, no matter how much you think you know. The best way to get around is to take public or private transportation into town and then look for local cabs outside the airport.

It is very easy to find local cabs outside of the airport, and thankfully most airports do not allow taxi touts and people trying to sell you a ride. If you want a cab, walk out of the terminal and look around. You will see some cabs available without having to hire anyone with flyers or posters. 

Parking Scams

It is a popular scam at major airports to tell you that the parking lot is closed and you need to pay for parking. This scam happens in several countries worldwide, and you will also find it at major airports like PDX airport parking.

The best way to avoid this is to park your car yourself if you can or get a taxi outside the airport rather than inside. Also, if the airport tells you that the parking lot is closed for any reason, ask them to call a cab for you rather than taking theirs.

If you hire someone from inside the airport, pay only when they give you your ticket or receipt. If they ask for money prior to receiving it, refuse to pay until they give it to you. If they refuse, call the police or airport authorities immediately.

Airport Pickpockets

Forget about your wallet while inside an airport terminal. It is incredibly easy to get mugged in any major international airport around the world. Airport pickpockets are prevalent everywhere you go, especially at busy tourist spots like airports.

Again, the best way to avoid being mugged and having a trouble-free trip is not to have your wallet or valuables with you or inside an exposed handbag.

If you do have something valuable on you, consider using a plastic bag for it so that if someone does try to mug you, they won’t get what they want.

However, be careful since most pickpockets are smart enough to know how to get past your defenses. Consider keeping anything valuable in your carry-on luggage rather than using your pocket.

The Security Staller Scam

If you are in a hurry to get somewhere, airport security can stall you for hours while pretending to take your bag apart or check it thoroughly. Ensure that the staff has put everything back correctly before moving away from them so that they cannot harass you later on.

Also, please keep your eyes open and observe where everyone is going and what they are doing while checking in. Sometimes, you can see people creating an extensive line or crowd while the staff pretends to be working on real issues. Please do not get involved unless you know exactly how it works and wants to participate.

These are some of the most common airport scams. It is easy to get scammed, and there is no way to avoid them totally. However, you can try your best to stay safe by following these tips and saving yourself from many problems in the future. If you get scammed, and if it isn’t too serious, try to laugh it off and write it in your travel journal (like I did!) 🙂

Have you ever been scammed/robbed while traveling or at the airport? Let me know in the comments!

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