I was looking down at my phone trying to get my bearings and a man approached me, asking if I was looking for a taxi. I was actually trying to figure out the bus-to-subway public transportation, but was open to taking a taxi and since he was there already, I said yes and he stressed that he had his cab "just outside."
We began walking, and I felt something was wrong only when we entered the parking garage. We just kept walking and it got weirder; we passed lines of taxis outside alreadyI wondered why his car hadn't been there. Finally, I got myself out of the situation by saying that 'whoops,' I had just got a message from my friend that her brother was already here, waiting to pick me up in his car and I had to go. Of course this was a lie, but it worked and before we had even reached his car in the parking garage, I was on my way back out of there.
I thought it was even weirder then, because the man didn't come back into the terminal but stayed in the parking garage. I ended up taking the bus-to-subway route and thinking how stupid I had been to even go with that man for a moment. Now I know.
We're sharing this so you know. Don't be scared, just be alert at airports and say no to people who approach you. Our friend knows where she went wrong, but was smart enough to get herself out of the situation. If you're in doubt about anything at all, go instead to an information booth, orif you're at most US airportsstraight out the arrivals doors to the established taxi queue, which likely has an attendant to put you safely into a legal taxi.
As it stands now, only yellow cabs are allowed to accept hailed fares at airports in New York City. If you've arranged a towncar or other non-taxi pick-up beforehand, then that's okay too. It's just the ones who approach you that you must turn down. And remember the popular motto of NYC public transportation: "if you see something, say something." Spot a shady character hustling a foreign family? Mention to one of those cops who seem to do nothing more than stand around inside airports, giving travelers the glare-down.
Still, our number one recommendation to stay out of this situation? Be alert. If you look like you know what you're doing and move with a purpose, the con-artists will be far less likely to approach.