One of the greatest fears for Vegas travelers is getting taken for a ride. They expect to lose to the slots and tables, but they don’t expect it when they get off the plane. I’m talking about predatory cab drivers who artificially drive up the fare by taking longer-than-necessary routes, better known as LongHauling (check out LasVegas-TaxiDriver.com for details and horror stories.
How Does It Happen?
LongHauling most often occurs when you take a cab from McCarran International Airport to your hotel. They figure you’re too dumb to realize you shouldn’t be getting on the highway to get to The Strip. Before you realize you’re taking a long walk for a short trip, your fare could be doubled. And it usually starts with this question: “Do you want to take the highway or the city streets?” How would you know? You’ve either never been here or didn’t consult a map. They get you off guard and take advantage. I know. It happened to me years ago.
From my own experiences, a typical cab ride to a center-Strip hotel from the airport should cost about $15, tops. I once got LongHauled and my fare was $25. Guess what. The cab driver lost his tip because of it. Once, we had a cab driver taking to the airport for our outbound and he tried to drive us away from our terminal so he could “check to see if it’s over here.” We stopped him before he could try it. And here’s a foolproof way you can avoid it.
The Solution: One Simple Question
You just got your baggage from the most absurd baggage claim area ever. You can see the Strip lights and you’re ready to hit it. You hail a cab, hop in, tell the cabbie where you’re heading and off you go. Most cab drivers are not schmucks and will do it right. But you need an insurance policy. Once you’re in the cab and pulling away from the curb headed to your Strip hotel, all you have to do is ask one simple question:
“You’re taking Swenson, right?
If the cab driver says yes, you’re good. If he says no, he’s trying to LongHaul you. Swenson gets you to the Strip in five minutes. You say that, he knows you’re not a rube. He knows you know the difference between Swenson and I-15. If he starts heading toward the tunnel (toward the 15), let him know you’re onto him by telling him LongHaul surcharges come out of his tip.
It’s really that simple. Swenson is the secret handshake; the signal to him you’re no schmuck.
Now, most Vegas cabbies are good, at worst. The vast majority are good people who understand that good customer service leads to better tips. But just in case you encounter one of the LongHaul cabbies, you now have insurance.
And oh yeah, when you’re leaving Vegas and taking a cab back to the airport, remember this: “You’re taking Paradise, right?”
Gets ’em every time.
Travel with confidence, my friends.