Monday, 16 December 2013

Travel Tax Squeeze: Best and Worst USA Cities

Here's interesting news if your travels take you to major cities in the USA.

This past week, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) released its annual travel tax report on car rentals, hotels and restaurants in 50 top USA cities. Of most interest to travellers are what the GBTA calls "discriminatory travel taxes", which are taxes imposed specifically on travel services, above and beyond general sales taxes. Here are a few highlights.

Worst USA Cities for Travel Taxes

Rental car back-up
Rental car return backup at Portland Airport - the USA city with the highest
discriminatory travel tax rate - that will effect your rental car bill
The top 10 U.S. cities with the highest discriminatory travel tax rates are:

2013 RankCity$ over general sales tax
1 Portland (OR) $22.86
2 Boston $19.34
3 Indianapolis $18.10
4 Minneapolis $17.46
5 Chicago $17.39
6 New York $15.96
7 Washington, D.C. $15.61
8 Kansas City $15.26
9 Charlotte $15.16
10 Milwaukee $15.04

Minneapolis jumped up two spots over 2012 (from 6 to 4), and Washington D.C. jumped up four spots (from 11 to 7).

Best USA Cities for Travel Taxes
Mazda 6 in Death Valley California
Enjoy your rental car in California, the taxes won't break the bank

You may be interested to know that California and Florida are among the states with the lowest discriminatory travel tax rates in the country, making them tourist friendly.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the lowest discriminatory travel tax rates are:

2013 RankCity$ over general sales tax
1 Burbank $1.58
2 Orange County $3.16
3 Ontario (CA) $4.48
4 San Diego $5.27
5 Oakland $5.79
6 * Tampa $7.27
7* Fort Lauderdale  $7.27
8* Fort Myers $7.27
9* West Palm Beach $7.27
10 Los Angeles $7.37
* tie

The biggest change since 2012 was Los Angeles, which dropped from 5th to 10th.


The information gathered by the GBTA is helpful, and we are appreciative of the level of detail the organization shares in its press releases, allowing us to share it with you. You may also be interested in the total travel tax burden rankings - just refer to the references below for more.

All information in this blog post is from the following Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) press releases:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Los Angeles Airports: Which is best? (BUR, LAX, LGB, ONT, SNA)

The Greater Los Angeles region relies on a multiple airport system because of its vast size. Many of the area's most popular attractions are closest to alternative airports. Here we examine five LA airports, to help you determine the best one for your trip.

→ Frequently hated, and much maligned, here are some things you may not know about LAX.

I'm stuck with a valuable friend
The distinctive LAX Theme Building

Los Angeles Airport transportation tips:
  • There is a free shuttle that runs between all terminals [learn more]
  • Parking? Try this: park at the small Van Nuys Airport (VNY)  , then take the LAX FlyAway direct shuttle to LAX (cheap parking + arrive stress free) [learn more]
  • No, there is no LAX Airport train, but it's still pretty easy to take the subway: the airport runs a free shuttle to the closest metro station [learn more]

We love LAX for:
  • Jetson inspired layover dining in the Encounter Restaurant in the LAX Theme Building [learn more]
  • Free weekend viewing at the Observation Deck [learn more]
  • OK, love is a bit of an oxymoron here, but these are redeeming factors...

LAX quick links:

→ Closest to: Hollywood, Rosebowl Statium and Griffith Park
Bob Hope Airport Amtrak
Burbank Bob Hope Airport has its own train station!

Burbank Airport transport tips:
  • It's easy to get into downtown Los Angeles by train!
  • The airport's train station (walking distance) is served by Metrolink and Amtrak [learn more]
  • A free shuttle runs between the terminal and 2 metro stations [learn more]
  • Hop the Burbank Bus at BUR to transfer to Universal Studios [learn more]

We love BUR for:
  • The awesome train connections!
  • Their new loyalty program
  • Initiatives to acknowledge contributions of former Lockheed employees

BUR quick links:

Long Beach Airport (LGB)

→ Closest to: Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach

Zeppelin Eureka coming into land Long Beach Airport
Look up: you might see a blimp over Long Beach Airport

Long Beach Airport transport tips:
  • A taxi from LGB to downtown LA is expensive [learn more]
  • For not much more, you can take a LGB Airport limo [learn more]
  • A taxi to the nearest Metro Rail station is USD 13.35 [learn more]
  • Bus service is available into Long Beach, but is infrequent [learn more]

We love LGB it for:
  • Fantastic airfield view, good for planespotting banner-towing aircraft and blimps
  • Wine bar with comfy outside seating and a fire pit (!)
  • The 1941 Streamline Moderne architecture and mosaics [learn more]

LGB quick links:

LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT)

→ Closest to: Riverside and San Bernardino
LA / Ontario Airport from above

LA / Ontario Airport transportation tips:
  • There is no airport train, but there is good bus service
  • Note: LAX flights due to weather usually land at ONT

We love ONT for:
  • The handy trip calculator comparing the time you'll save vs BUR, LAX, LGB and SNA
  • Walking distance to Ontario or the Ontario Mills Mall in about 25 minutes

ONT quick links:

Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA)

→  Closest to Disneyland, Honda Center and Angel Stadium

Orange County Airport postcard, 1970s
Fabulous vintage postcard of Orange County Airport
 Orange County Airport transportation tips:
  • The Disneyland Resort Express runs from the SNA to the Anaheim/Disneyland     area
  • There is no train service, but bus service is pretty good, some connecting to Metrolink
  • The airport is sometimes referred to as Santa Ana Airport

We love SNA for:

SNA quick links:

mr wayne
John Wayne statue outside his namesake airport 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Chaos that Greets New Arrivals at Phuket Airport (HKT)

Phuket Airport
Emerging from Phuket Airport upon arrival
Anyone who has flown to Phuket can attest to the chaotic ground transportation situation at the airport. Such a nasty welcome, on your way to paradise.

Phuket Airport Taxi Chaos

Much has been said about the aggressiveness of the taxi touts that descend upon new arrivals. Count yourself lucky if you are approached less than a dozen times.

There are metered taxis at the airport, and they are the only way to not get ripped off, but they are bafflingly hard to find.
Phuket Airport Metered Taxi Time
It's all smiles once you find the metered taxis at Phuket Airport
The situation is beyond ridiculous, but incredibly hard to change, as the folks responsible for Thailand tourism are finding out.

The New Phuket Airport Bus

Earlier this year, a new bus service was implemented, but it has been plagued with challenges, and is still having trouble getting off the ground. First, there were the protests and blockades by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers upset about the threat to their livelihoods. Then there were the 'mysterious' disappearance of signage at bus stops throughout the city (read more).

The challenges continue, with a lack of signage at the airport itself, oddly disputed by the airport authorities (read more).

Still, the new Phuket Airport Express Bus is good news. And we hope it overcomes these initial challenges to become an ongoing service travellers can count on.
Transportation Issues in Phuket: The Bigger Picture

These issues aren't limited to the airport. Interestingly, the European Union Ambassadors' List of Seven Phuket Needs include 4 relating to transportation:
  • An efficient and fairly priced public transport system in Phuket which is available to foreign tourists and residents alike.
  • Aon end to intimidatory and violent behavior by an element of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.
  • An end to scams involving hiring of equipment such as jet skis or motorbikes.
  • Strict enforcement of road safety regulations.
Change is Coming

The good news is that there are a couple of changes coming before the end of the year:
  • Only metered taxis will be able to pick up at Phuket Airport (read more)
  • There are new licensing requirements for Phuket taxi and mini-van drivers (read more)
  • Phuket police have begun a new Phuket Care initiative (read more)
So, while it will take time to transform the transportation culture at Phuket Airport, it seems that change has begun...

Going to Phuket? If you notice changes, please let us know, we're interested!

Rental Car Counter @ Phuket Airport
Book your rental car ahead -
and don't fall for the fake insurance scam!
Other Transfer Options at Phuket Airport

There are other options for transfers from Phuket Airport, including:

Phuket Airport Private Transfers
Phuket Airport Shuttle Transfers
Phuket Airport Hotel Transfers
Phuket Airport Rental Cars
Other Thailand Transfers

Related reading:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Dubai's new Al Maktoum Airport is open for business (DWC)

Get a window seat: you may get this view when landing at
Dubai's new Al Maktoum Airport

Dubai's newest airport opened on October 26, 2013. Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC), as it is officially named, welcomed its first passengers, arriving on a Wizz Air flight from Budapest.

You might be asking yourself, "Doesn't Dubai already have one of the busiest airports in the world? And isn't it undergoing expansion right now?"

Yes, indeed. Dubai International Airport (DXB) served 57,684,550 passengers in 2012, making it the 10th busiest airport in the world, and, yes, it is undergoing major expansion. But that's still not enough to meet the demands of Dubai's growth, and its vision for the future. They are talking about Al Maktoum Airport becoming the largest in the world, serving 200 million passengers (!).

Dubai World Central is an immense development centralizing aviation, cargo, logistics, conference and residential facilities in the heart of the Middle East. It is said that the airport alone may eventually serve 160-200 million passengers (for perspective, the world's busiest airport, Atlanta, served 95 million last year). It's an ambitious plan, but that's Dubai's middle name.

For an introduction to Dubai Al Maktoum Airport, from it's initial flights to lofty goals for the future, check out this story from Innovation Village, or watch this opening day news report from Phil Buzzard of BreakingTravelNews.

Getting to/from Al Maktoum Airport

Of course, our interest is in the ground transportation, so that we can share the most complete information available on how to get to and from this new airport.

Ibn Battuta Metro Station
There is no direct metro connection... yet, but bus F55 will
take you from DWC to Ibn Battuta station.
While it will eventually be superbly connected to the city of Dubai by metro, and Dubai International Airport (DXB) by light rail, for now travellers flying to Al Maktoum Airport have to be patient.

Here are your ground transportation options:
This is all based on our best knowledge so far. We are continuing to scour resources from additional details as they become available. If you are familiar with the airport, or will be traveling to DWC in the near future, we welcome any additional information you can share. Input from travelers is always appreciated!

Fancy ceiling above Starbuck's at Ibn Battuta mall
If you take the F55 bus to Ibn Battuta Metro Station, and decide to pause
for a coffee before boarding the Metro, check out the ceiling
above the Starbucks at Ibn Battuta Mall.
Speaking of the Dubai Metro...

Dubai Metro
Dubai metro platform
And, finally we couldn't resist... because we know you may go shopping at Dubai Mall:

Dubai Mall
Your really can buy anything at the Dubai Mall!
Related reading:

Sunday, 27 October 2013

New taxi scam at Sydney Airport (SYD)

Taxi Number Two Of New South Wales, Australia
Taxi in New South Wales

A new scam emerged in Sydney earlier this month. You could be prone to it if you take a taxi from Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD).

In this scam, the taxi driver says his electronic payment system is not working.

This is actually a very common scam around the world, but in this variation, the driver says he can process your charge on a manual machine. If you agree, what happens next is that your credit card number is fraudulently re-sold.

If you encounter this scam, we advise that you say no to the manual machine, and pay cash.

Sydney Internaltion Airport - taxi stand
Taxi line-up at Sydney Airport

If you've gone ahead and used the manual credit card machine, check your credit card statements. There are more details in the original article, Taxi credit card payment scam emerges in NSW.

Avoid the risk and arrive stress free: book a private car transfer from Sydney Airport from IHateTaxis.

Related reading:

Monday, 7 October 2013

Avoiding taxi scams at Costa Rica's airports (SJO, SYQ)

Backseat in San Jose, CR Taxi
"The taxi driver did not speak any English. He did recognize the name of the hotel and was able to get us back.
I took this picture from the backseat of his taxi as we zipped through the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica.
I thought the little Santas and the small shoe were interesting, as was the reflection
that I got of the front seat passenger and the driver."
randysonofrobert on Flickr

It's kind of important to have a taxi driver who speaks English, don't you think? For anyone who has been in the back seat of a cab with a driver who doesn't speak the same language, that would be an understatement. This is especially important if you are travelling to anything other than the most well known hotels.

So it might seem like a relief when, upon your arrival in Costa Rica, your San Jose airport taxi driver greets you with "Hello". It would be natural to think how great it is that you found an English speaking driver.

But that may not be the case.

In September 2013, an investigation revealed that hundreds of Costa Rican taxi drivers had fraudulently obtained their English diploma, which is mandatory to obtain an airport taxi license. The scam involved language-school workers selling fake English diplomas to drivers who had not attended a single class.

Dealing with the Fake English Diploma Scam: We suggest that some small talk as you greet your driver, and your bags are stowed, may reveal if your driver had adequate English to understand your directions.

Taxi Driver - Costa Rica - San Jose
Try conversing with your Costa Rican taxi driver before you get in the cab!

Costa Rica's capital city of San José is served by two airports. San José Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), handles most international flights, whereas San José Tobias Bolaños International Airport (SYQ) handles general aviation, private aircraft, charters, domestic flights and international flights to nearby Nicaragua and Panama. Costa Rica's 2nd busiest airport is Liberia Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR).

Related content from IHateTaxis:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Avoiding taxi scams at Rome's airports (CIA, FCO)

Colosseum Taxis
Rome is notorious for taxi scams...
The tricky thing about the taxi scams at Rome's airports is that they are carried out by the official taxis. It's baffling and practically impossible to avoid, unless you avoid airport taxis entirely.

We tell you how to avoid the taxi scams on the taxi pages in both our Rome airport guides:

That's why we're so impressed with Amanda Ruggeri's recent blog post about the problem, as she lives in Rome, is not easily fooled and isn't afraid to challenge the status quo. In Don't Take a Taxi at Rome's Ciampino Airport. Here's Why, Amanda pulls back the covers and reveals how the scam works (she even explains what the Aurelian Walls are!):

The good news is that there are alternatives - here's what we recommend  from each airport:
... and be glad that transportation in ancient Rome has evolved since the days of the chariot.

Related reading:

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Avoiding scams at LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

Anti-gypsy-cab sign, La Guardia Airport, NYC, NY, USA.JPG
It is unsafe to accept a ride from drivers who approach you at La Guardia.
Even if they look official, these pirate taxi drivers are breaking the law.

There are so many problems with travellers being scammed at New York's LaGuardia Airport that they have taken to placing free-standing signs around the terminal.

The best advice we can give you is the following:

Do NOT accept a ride from anyone who approaches you in the terminal. That includes:
  • A driver who says they just happen to be returning to their car after stepping into the terminal to use the washroom
  • A driver who tells you there are no taxis outside but you can skip the waiting line by going with him
  • A limousine driver who says their passenger pick-up was cancelled at the last minute
  • Anyone who offers to help you with your luggage

This is an airport where it really is important to use only official taxi and limousine providers.

Head directly for the taxi stand located outside each terminal for official taxi services. You will find uniformed LGA Taxi dispatchers available to assist you before you start your ride.

New York Taxi Stand at LaGuardia Airport Photo i096 by Grant Wickes
Taxi queue at LGA (Photo courtesy Grant Wickes)

You can also follow the signs to the Welcome Centre/Ground Transportation Counter (near baggage claim). The staff here can advise you on your options. Better yet, read up on your choices before you go with our LaGuardia Airport (LGA) Transportation Guide.

Bonus Tip: Ignore non-uniformed people offering to assist with baggage. Seek out uniformed porters or airline employees for baggage assistance.

Here are some other interesting stories about ground transportation at La Guardia:

Related content from IHateTaxis:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 10: The Toronto Islands finish fine

All eyes were on Toronto last week as the first season of The Amazing Race Canada wrapped up.
Toronto from Harbour Islands (6264452871)
Toronto skyline, viewed from Toronto Islands
The race finished on the Toronto Islands, a small chain of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, just offshore from the city. Even if you aren't familiar with the islands, you are probably familiar with the Toronto skyline, the shots of which are taken from various spots on the islands.

As the action at the finish line has been well covered, we'll focus on where it all took place, with a visit to the Toronto Islands. While often referred to collectively, the final leg of The Amazing Race Canada actually took place on Olympic Island. [continue reading]

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 9: 1 ferry, no airports!

The excitement continued on The Amazing Race Canada in Week 9 - if you missed the episode, you can watch it, and get full details on the official website.

As far as our coverage goes - as we have focused on the airports visited on the race - we were left a bit stumped as to what to post for Week 9.... as there were no airports involved!

The teams began in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but we had covered Halifax's Airport in our Week 8 blog post).
NL Ferry3 tango7174
On the MV Atlantic Vision ferry, Marine Atlantic,
between North Sydney (Nova Scotia) and
Port aux Basques (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Next, the teams took the ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques, on their way to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ferry service in the area is provided by Marine Atlantic.

As a result, during the entire Week 9 episode, there were no airports!

Instead, we did a blog post this week on the 5 Busiest Airports in Canada - with lots of extra trivia and information. Check it out.

We look forward to more Amazing Race blog posts - with airports! - as the race goes into the final stretch...

Go teams go!!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

5 Busiest Airports in Canada 2012

Did you know where Canada's busiest airports are? How many have you visited? Do you have any favourites?

1. Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Inuksuit (Toronto Pearson Airport)
  • Official name: Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Named for: Lester B. Pearson, the 14th Prime Minister of Canada
  • Passengers served in 2012: 34,912,456
  • Distance from downtown: 27 kilometres
  • Other airports: YYZ is the busiest of Toronto's main airports, but is the most remotely located; Toronto Billy Bishop City Centre Airport (YTZ) is located downtown (it's Canada's 9th busiest)
  • Trivia: YYZ is one of only two airports in North America with scheduled flights to all 6 inhabited continents; the other is New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK)
  • Good news: Construction is underway on Metrolink's new Union Pearson Express, a rail link between Pearson Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto; the UP Express will begin service in spring 2015
  • Transportation tip: Your best bet for a Toronto Pearson Airport transfer is a shuttle - full details on all options in our YYZ Airport transportation guide
  • Or, to arrive stress free, pre-book your private Toronto Pearson Airport transfer from IHateTaxis

2. Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

RK 0908 9604 Spirit of Haida Gwaii the Jade Canoe
  • Official name: Vancouver International Airport
  • Passengers served in 2012: 17,596,901
  • Distance from downtown: 12 kilometres
  • Trivia: YVR is one of the few big international airports to have a terminal for scheduled floatplanes:Vancouver Airport South
  • Transportation tip: The Canada Line SkyTrain, built for the 2010 Olympics, is your best option if you are heading downtown - details on all options in our YVR Airport transportation guide
  • Or, to truly arrive stress free, treat yourself to a private Vancouver Airport transfer from IHateTaxis.

3. Montréal Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

YUL U.S. Departures Sector
  • Official name: Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport 
  • Named for: Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada's 15th Prime Minister
  • Previously named: Montréal Dorval Airport
  • Passengers served in 2012: 13,809,820
  • Distance from downtown: 20 kilometres
  • Other airports: Montreal has a 2nd airport, Mirabel (YMX), but it is used almost exclusively for cargo flights
  • Trivia: Bombardier Aerospace has an assembly facility on site to build regional jets and Challenger business jets
  • Good news: there are plans to build a rail connection to downtown Montreal, but it will not be complete until 2020
  • Transportation tip: Your best bet for a Montreal Airport transfer is the 747 bus - full details on all options in our YUL Airport transportation guide
  • Or, to truly arrive stress free, treat yourself to a private Montreal Trudeau Airport transfer from IHateTaxis

4. Calgary International Airport (YYC)

  • Official name: Calgary International Airport 
  • Passengers served in 2012: 13,638,137
  • Distance from downtown: 17 kilometres
  • Trivia: Calgary's airport was remarkably unscathed and remained operational during 2013's  devastating floods in the area
  • Good news: a new international terminal is under construction, due to open in 2014
  • Transportation tip: Your best bet for a transfer is a bus to nearby trains and Calgary's Bus Rapid Transit System - details on all options are included in our YYC Airport transportation guide
  • Or, to arrive stress free, pre-book your shared Calgary Airport shuttle from IHateTaxis now

5. Edmonton International Airport (YEG)

Central hall of CYEG
  • Official name: Edmonton International Airport 
  • Passengers served in 2012: 6,676,445
  • Distance from downtown: 26 kilometres
  • Other airports: Edmonton used to have a 2nd airport downtown (YXD), used for commuter traffic, but it closed in recent years
  • Trivia: the airport's Living Wall consists of 8,000+ plants, 32 different species
  • Good news: a new Renaissance by Marriott hotel is slated to open on-site in fall 2013, the first Renaissance hotel in the world to be attached to an airport
  • Transportation tip: there is a relatively new Edmonton Airport bus, but ridership is low, and there has been talk of the service being discontinued if it is not more widely used (so ride it if you go!) - details on all options included in our YEG Airport transportation guide

We hope you have enjoyed our feature on Canada's busiest airports. If you have an idea for an airport you'd like to see featured, especially if it has something unique about it's transportation, please let us know - we are always open to ideas!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Chicago taxi driver scams student for $4K

A taxi in Chicago
If you missed it this past week, this taxi scam is one of the worst we've seen. Not only for how deep it gouged, but for how heartless it was.

Here's how it went down: a Chinese student, speaking little English, lands at Chicago O'Hare Airport. His destination: the University of Illinois (there is a bus service, but taking a taxi should cost, at most, about $300). The student was approached in the airport by a taxi driver, told there were no more buses running that night, and his only option was a taxi. For a cool $1000. The student agrees, and off they go.

But that's not the end of the story. We're not sure if somehow the driver caught wind of the fact that the student had a lot of cash on him, or perhaps he caught a glimpse of it, or maybe he was just a nasty dreamer, but whatever the reason, when they arrive at their destination, the driver demands $4,800 (and, no, that's not a typo!). Well, the student "only" had around $4,200, so he gave the driver all the money he had.

Our advice: NEVER trust an offer of a taxi or limo from someone who approaches you in the airport.

The practice of approaching customers to secure a fare is called touting.

Touts prey on newly-arrived passengers, at airports and train stations, taking advantage of them in many ways. Touts prey on new arrivals because:
  • They may not be familiar with the local currency
  • They may not be aware of the typical cost of goods and services
  • They are likely tired and jet-lagged and just want to get to their destination
  • They are  very likely carrying large amounts of cash 
To avoid being ripped off, avoid taxi touts completely.

Related reading: Dealing with Touts

Instead, go to the official taxi stand, or read up on your destination ahead of time to learn options for where you can catch a cab ( was created for this purpose - check us out!).

While we most often see stories about taxi touts ripping travellers off outside of North America, it can happen anywhere. So, get street smart, and know how to protect yourself.

We feel for the student who, in this case, really didn't know any better, and was willing to trust someone who he thought was helping him (the driver told him there were no more buses that evening). If you know a foreigner who is travelling to visit you, always advise them the best way to get a taxi, and what not to do, to avoid being scammed.

Related reading: Airport Arrival Advice

With regards to the recent Chicago scam, you can read the full story here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 8: YFB, YHZ

Week 8 of The Amazing Race Canada began in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

City of Iqaluit
Aerial view of Iqaluit, Nanavut, Canada.
If you missed it, our Week 7 blog post last week highlighted many of the unique challenges of air travel in this remote region of Canada, as well as the beauty and culture of this unique community.

So, onto Week 8, as the teams departed from Iqaluit Airport (YFB), and flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of Canada's beautiful Maritime provinces.

As with our most recent Amazing Race Canada blog posts, we will focus on the airport and other items of interest in the region (as there are many different sites doing a great job of recapping the teams and the race itself!).

[continue reading]

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 7: YQB, YFB

Week 7 of The Amazing Race Canada took the teams about as far north in Canada as you can go... but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
City Walls 1
Quebec City is Canada's only walled city...
The teams began in Quebec City, which we wrote about in our Week 6 blog post. Before we leave this amazing spot, a few more facts about Quebec City:
  • Quebec City's old town (Vieux-Québec) is the only remaining fortified walled city north of Mexico
  • Vieux-Québec has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • There are lots of things you can do in Quebec City - here are just a few
From Quebec City Airport (YQB), the teams flew north north north to Iqaluit, Nunavut. [continue reading]

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 6: YQR, YUL, YYZ, YQB

Another week, another 4 airports! In Week 6 of The Amazing Race Canada, the teams moved between two cities, via two different routes.

Teams lifted off for this leg of the race from Regina International Airport (YQR). We wrote about this airport - and it's transportation issues - in our Week 5 blog post.

Some of the teams connected through Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Canada's 3rd busiest airport.

YUL U.S. Departures Sector
Just a few teams passed through Montreal's airport...
Too bad the visit was so brief. Named a UNESCO City of Design, Montreal is one North America's liveliest cities, with historical buildings dating from the 17th century. [continue reading]

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 5: YXY, YVR, YEG, YYC, YQR

Air Canada Express (7375069012)
Air Canada was one of The Amazing Race Canada's sponsors.

Lots of airports touched on the way to the destination for this week's installment of The Amazing Race Canada: [continue reading]

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 4: YYC, YZF

This week on The Amazing Race Canada, it was off to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories!

The teams took off from Calgary International Airport (YYC) - which we wrote about in our Week 3 Recap - and flew to Yellowknife. Brr!

Buffalo Airways DC3 GPNR nose
The Bristol Monument - on display near Yellowknife Airport.
This Bristol freighter was the very plane that was the
first the land on skis at the North Pole in 1967.

After landing in Yellowknife at the Yellowknife Airport (YZF), the teams had to find Pilot's Monument. [continue reading]

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 3: YVR, YYC

The Amazing Race Canada is ticking along, and just gets more exciting (click this link to watch past episodes, if you missed any).

In Week 3, the teams began at the Vancouver Convention Centre (with the amazing living roof, which we wrote about last week), made their way to an internet cafe on Robson Street, used to book their flights.

Then it was off to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) again.

Welcome to Cow Town!

Calgary view from Airport
View of Calgary from the airport
Just a short while later they landed at Calgary International Airport (YYC), Canada's 4th busiest airport. Welcome to Cow Town! [continue reading]

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 2: YLW, YVR

Another exciting episode of The Amazing Race Canada last night!

We're pleased a few people found our "clues" to Week 2 and tried our poll. Once again, here are the clues, along with the % of guesses for each, and the correct answer highlighted:
  • A pair of sticks. An enormous tail. A dull edge. (0%)
  • A green hat. An enormous head. A sharp edge. (20%) - CORRECT
  • A pointy head. An enormous elastic. An uneven edge. (0%)
  • A head on a stick. An enormous song. A jagged edge. (0%)
  • A fishy stick. An enormous rope. A smooth edge. (0%)
  • A pair of dimes. An enormous bone. A bumpy edge. (0%)
  • A red jacket. An enormous beast. A razor edge. (80%)

A green hat:

Vancouver Convention Centre
The green roof atop the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building,
The Amazing Race Canada Week 2 pitstop
(source: super_sly_spy on flickr, creative commons licence)
This green "living roof" atop the new West building of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Wasn't that a marvelous pit stop for the end of Week 2? [continue reading]

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 2: What's in Store?

Like you, we wonder about the details of where the teams will go, and what they'll do. Do we know more than you? Only time will tell. What do YOU think?

Where will The Amazing Race Canada go in Week 2? Pick the best set of clues:

  • A pair of sticks. An enormous tail. A dull edge. 
  • A green hat. An enormous head. A sharp edge. 
  • A pointy head. An enormous elastic. An uneven edge. 
  • A head on a stick. An enormous song. A jagged edge. 
  • A fishy stick. An enormous rope. A smooth edge. 
  • A pair of dimes. An enormous bone. A bumpy edge. 
  • A red jacket. An enormous beast. A razor edge.

Record your answer in the poll above... or add your own guesses to the comments section below.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 1 - Niagara Falls, YYZ, YVR, YLW

Niagara falls in Canada
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (source: Wikicommons)
We're a Canadian company, so we are understandably excited to watch The Amazing Race Canada unfold on our televisions, hosted by our very own Canadian Olympian, Jon Montgomery (he won gold in 2010 in skeleton... to call that race amazing would be an understatement!).

Being airport geeks (after all, we are the best people-powered world-wide airport ground transportation information service), we are especially interested in the airports the teams on The Amazing Race Canada will visit during the race.

Needless to say, we loved the Week 1 kick-off show, featuring Niagara Falls, Ontario (aka "the Canadian side") - along with its sister city over the border in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.A. is the self-proclaimed "Honeymoon Capital of the World." The grandeur of the Falls of the Niagara River attracts millions... [continue reading]

Friday, 7 June 2013

The best and worst cities to take a taxi

How safe is it to take a taxi in Namibia? How worthwhile is a minimum fare in Tokyo? Why is Bogota, Colombia the worst city to take a taxi?

If in Colombia there is suspicion of this public service, it is worth considering what other countries stand out for unreasonable charges and, likewise, what cities - despite high prices - provide safety, security and comfort.

Kienyke consulted Todd Romaine, marketing manager for the website, which specializes in offering ground transportation guides for airports, terminals and tourist attractions around the world. The company stresses that it is difficult to generalize about a country, as there are a range of fares, experiences and perceptions that tend to be concentrated in the large cities.

The best countries and cities to take a taxi

The website was created by two Canadian brothers who were scammed by a taxi driver, and decided to face a common problem. Romaine stresses that Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and much of western Europe have the best taxi service.

Here we take into account several factors, such as distance from the city centre to the airport, taxi availability, surcharges and gratuities, among others.

"Although several countries have high rates, and while taxi drivers hate short trips and controls in the pricing system, 70% of the people who consult our website are satisfied with the service of these countries in general," said Romaine.

Also online company released its annual survey of global taxis, which highlighted four cities that demonstrated the best taxi services.

It took into account five categories: knowledge of the area, cleanliness, safety and security, ride quality and friendliness. London, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai were chosen as the best cities for taxi services by more than 1,600 respondents.

The worst cities to take a taxi has identified six cities where tourists perceive they are most exposed to taxi scams, such fake surcharges, unwarranted stops, altered taximeters or broken meters.

Bogota is the worst by issues of security, according to 15,777 negative reports by users who complain of constant theft or violent crimes (such as the famous 'Millionaire Walk').
Here's how the "Paseo Millonario" (Millionaire Ride or Express Kidnap) works: Once you are in the taxi, the driver will stop and pick up accomplices (sometimes taking a detour to do so) and together they rob you. But they do not stop there. They will demand that you withdraw cash from your debit card and credit card at ATMs, and they will drive you around until your withdrawal limit is reached. (source: IHateTaxis)

Stockholm, Sweden is unregulated and, according to, drivers have exaggerated rates.

Although the service is convenient, 1,500 respondents have reported earning to that in Bangkok, Thailand many rate-related scams occur. A similar case is presented in Cairo, Egypt and Rome, Italy.

"It is also noteworthy that in India, China and most of Africa the general chaos that occurs as a result of traffic, unsafe areas, and constant haggling, represent a major threat to users".

The most expensive fares

The worst news for a company is when one of its employees returns from Tokyo with a taxi bill for travel expenses. The receipt can reach €300 average, with can be a surprise to superiors.

As a tip, a ticket on the Narita Express train (€28) will be 150% cheaper to travel from the airport to the city centre by taxi.

"The results differ if we look at the cost per mile versus the overall fare. While the ranking of most industry articles is measured by the cost per mile  … what matters to travellers is the total cost, from the airport to the city centre", said Romaine of

The cities with the cheapest taxi fares

The basic cost for a city centre - airport varies between a price of just over a half euro and the three euros. With the following table you can find the cheapest rates to travel by taxi.

Luxury brands, classic and other models used by taxi drivers

Manganese Bronze Holdings plc is a company specializing in the manufacture of the famous London black taxis. Although it has more than 68 years of experience in the design of the historical models, excessive debt forced its owners to sell the company.

There are three types of available fares for travel in these taxis, which depend on the days and hours when the journeys are made. A journey of 40 minutes can go for about €60 euros.

Black London Cab
In a few years, the classic "black cab" will disappear from the streets of
London to make way to less polluting vehicles
The Ford Crown Victoria Taxi is perhaps one of the most recognized brands in the world. While on the streets of the New York City there remain more than 13,000 vehicles in this category, 2011 was the last model year built. If you arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport and your destination is Manhattan, it will take approximately $52, plus tips, for a taxi ride. 

New York Taxi
The mayor of the Big Apple has not yet replaced these models.
It is expected that in four months the company Nissan
will secure the public tender.
Although it may seem exuberant, in Moscow the companies decided to bet on the comfort of its customers with luxury transportation. Only on the streets of the Russian capital can you find a Maybach 62 red. The price of a run from the airport to the city centre can cost €40, relatively high value if you consider that the trip is made in a vehicle that is worth about €300,000. 

Maybach taxi Moscow 2
German made Mercedes-Benz were positioned as taxis 
several years ago in Russia

By Camilo Hurtado (@cahurtadokyk) for Kienyke

Follow IHateTaxis on Twitter: @IHateTaxis

Read the original version of the story on Kienyke: Las mejores y peores ciudades para tomar taxi

Note that the above is an English translation of the Spanish original.