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Beware of 'Airport Hustlers' Offering a Ride


Bustling airports can be bustling with crime, and we don’t mean your average pickpocket or luggage thief. A bigger problem across the board is unauthorized ground transportation companies that try to solicit your business. Often called airport hustlers, such operators of taxicabs, shuttle vans, car services or other vehicles are not only potentially dangerous to your safety and well-being but many may be blatantly breaking the rules and regulations that govern the industry.

The Rules

Commercial ground transportation operators must enter into contracts, register with the specific airport they serve, and heed a hefty lineup of federal, state and local rules and regulations. The scope of what counts as commercial ground transportation is huge, covering everything from charter buses to limousines, wheelchair accessible transport to public transportation.

A 2008 in-depth research project sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration notes the rules and regulation are equally as broad, touching on issues that include:

  • Safety
  • Airport security
  • Size and weight restrictions
  • Loading and unloading areas
  • Meeting, loading and unloading passengers
  • Proper procedures for licensing, permits and agreements
  • Requirements for automated vehicle identification tags (AVI)
  • Infrequent use and single-day user permits
  • Applicable fees
  • Proper operator conduct

Yes, that’s a huge and detailed list. And going with an unauthorized ground transportation operator can mean not a single one of them is being followed.

The Dangers

Disregard of the rules and regulations can easily translate to a disregard for anything but making a buck, including passenger safety. While vast and even daunting, the rules and regulations are not put in place to make limousine operators or other ground transportation companies jump through hoops. They are in place to keep passengers, operators and airport customers safe.

Several potential dangers of choosing an unauthorized airport ride include:

Theft: Unless you’re going with a reputable, authorized ground transportation carrier, it’s typically not wise to hand over your luggage to a stranger. They may load it into the trunk, but they may also take off without you.

Over-charging: Ridiculous rates may be par for the course, something you may only find out once you reach your destination.

Getting lost: You may not make it to your conference, meeting or hotel for hours, not until an inexperienced or unauthorized driver finds the right route. Some may feign getting lost on purpose to increase your fare.

Auto accidents or injuries: Unauthorized operators are not necessarily carrying the necessary insurance or heeding proper procedures for airport loading, passenger limits or even the rules of the road.

Getting to your destination safely, securely and on-time is a top priority, and choosing an authorized ground transportation company is the most likely way to ensure it.


Posted on Aug 08 2014

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