Friday, 3 April 2015

Even taxi drivers are chill about Cairn's free airport bus

Even the Cairns taxi drivers support the new airport bus
Cairns Airport has a new airport shuttle bus service - and it's FREE.

The new service, Airport Connect, provides a vital missing link between the city's public transportation system, and the Cairns International Airport, which has no public transit options. Passengers, airport staff and pedestrians who have no desire or budget to pay for a taxi or shuttle, or who are not staying at hotel with shuttle service, have had little choice but to walk.

Airport Connect will operate just once an hour, so it may not work for most passengers. But now, at least, they have a choice.

The motivation behind the move is sad, but also inspiring: 2 months ago a pedestrian died after being struck while walking along Airport Avenue. The new service means that Dinah Boughton's life was not in vain.

The Airport Connect service is not without its detractors, but we'll take a free bus service over no bus service at all. If the only thing better is a direct bus service from the city centre, well maybe that would be a good outcome. And if advocates for cycling and walking paths are heard, and additional facilities are created, then all the better.

The free bus experiment is limited to a 3-month trial period, which we think is a shame, as this isn't nearly enough time for visitors to learn about the service and begin to use it.

Nonetheless, it's a brilliant idea, and whoever seized the funding to get the project off the ground should be congratulated. Now it's up to both the public to show their support - by using the bus - and for airport executives to show their leadership - by standing their ground and extending the service. If government officials drop the ball by failing to permanently fund the initiative, then it really will be a shame.

Cairns taxi drivers not fazed by free Cairns Regional Council bus service to Cairns Airport
The Cairns Airport bus service is set up to fail
How the Cairns Airport Connect shuttle bus works
Cairns International Airport (CNS) transportation guide
Cairns Layover Ideas & Things to do in Cairns

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Don’t let sensationalized travel fear invoke paralysis

standing at the precipice
creativecommons image by charleskremenak on Flickr

by Todd Romaine

Let’s face the obvious fact – you will die at some point. Now, getting over this depressed reality should not paralyze you from living life and seeing the world in real-time versus from in front of a television set.

It seems all too often that the world is becoming a small place to travel within when the broad strokes of generalization of ‘no-go zones’ are factored into trip planning. Generally speaking, the Middle East is considered very volatile with the usual images of suicidal bombers and revolution. Africa is considered dangerous for contacting deadly viral diseases to war and to horrific crimes against locals and tourists alike. Much of Asia, with the exception of the southeast portion, is considered to share the same traits as the Middle East and Africa.

Right off the bat, most people now eliminate 2/3rds of the world and stick to safe countries in safe regions to ensure a continuance of life as they know it. And with the overload of information in people’s lives, we thrive and make decisions based on a combination of news or research snippets followed by gut reasoning.

When Ebola hit the news, people were avoiding Africa and all parts of it, despite the fact it only impacted three countries in West Africa and left the remaining 51 countries alone. While images of the Middle East show chaotic conditions, much of the region is peaceful or safe to travel, or countries considered dangerous generally have pockets of it, versus a wide swath of territory (exception being ISIL in Iraq, Syria).

Unfortunately official country reports tend to reinforce these stereotypes and this compounds the issue further with insurance companies, travel companies and the likes also terminating or intensifying their view of the area.

I am not suggesting you shrug this information off completely but spend time doing research on where you want to travel and what areas to avoid.

Admittedly, I went to Yemen last year as a tourist, a country that only receives a handful of American tourists and likely even less Canadians. Despite the political issues, kidnappings etc., I was able to find pockets of the country that were very safe and was able to enjoy it without dealing with hordes of tourists.

Traveling solo or with a small group tends to attract less negative attention and spending money with a reputable tour group also greatly assists with navigating away from potential dangers.

Maybe the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, but most of the world is still relatively safe and if do your own detailed research, and do proper planning, you have the opportunity to see reality in your own eyes versus the often drummed up sensationalism of mass media.

Related resources
Fear, Risk and Travel - Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere
Travel warnings and advisories - Independent Traveler
Why you should ignore travel warnings - Reid's Italy
Travel in the time of Ebola
May the odds be ever in your favour
What counts as a country visited?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A few thoughts on Frankfurt Airport

This feature originally appeared on our LayoverIdeas blog:
Frankfurt airport
creativecommons image by bortescristian on Flickr
While we are often inspired by innovative airport design and unique features, Frankfurt International Airport takes the cake, by going above and beyond what has become to be expected of world class airports.

Among the many passenger-friendly services at Frankfurt International Airport, the following strike us as definitely created with human creature comforts in mind [continue reading... ]

Related resources
Layover City: Frankfurt
Frankfurt Layover Private Sightseeing Tour with Airport Transport
Frankfurt International Airport private transfer service from IHateTaxis
Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) transportation guide
Frankfurt Hahn Airport (HHN) transportation guide (120km away)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Taxi prices drop in Manila... or do they?

All taxis in Manila - in the whole country of the Philippines actually - have been ordered to drop their fares.

The story is that the move is necessary with the reduction in oil prices around the world, but many are speculating that this is an Uber ridesharing countermove. Either way, it's being rolled out quickly (they've even called it "provisional"), and it's causing no shortage of confusion.

Type of signage you're
likely to see in your
Manila taxi
pic @AceGapuz
Here's the lowdown:
  • All Manila taxis have been ordered to reduce the starting meter fare by PHP 10
  • For Manila airport taxis, this means the starting fare has dropped from PHP 70 to PHP 60
  • Elsewhere in Manila, the starting fare drop is from PHP 40 to PHP 30
  • For reasons that are unfathomable, the fare drop does NOT appear on the meter!
  • It is the driver's responsibility to deduct the PHP 10 off the fare
  • There are severe penalties for drivers who do not give the reduction
  • Expect the reduction and pay attention to make sure you get the correct rate
  • The reduction applies elsewhere in the Philippines as well

It's not hard to see the flaws with this system: how is the traveler to know if the reduction is in place, if their driver does not tell them? With how quickly the change was rolled out, and the fact that it is being called "provisional", the possibility exists for the change to be reversed just as spontaneously (there is a pretty big pushback).

It's also making for some pretty dismal taxi drivers, all of who are taking the hit of the reduced fare. If you have a heart, tip well.

Avoid the hassle: book an Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport private transfer with IHateTaxis!

Related resources:
LTFRB cuts taxi flag-down rate nationwide by P10
Provisional rollback on taxi flag-down rate ‘unreasonable’–taxi operators
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) transportation guide
Manila Clark International Airport (CRK) transportation guide

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Baja Mexico's double dipper gas scam

Pemex gas stations are a common sight in Mexico - and it's at
one in Los Cabos that this rental car gas scam happened
creativecommons image: mcrael on Flickr

Heading to Baja, Mexico? Watch out for the double dipper gas scam!

Many Americans and Canadians, especially those located on the continents’ west coast, frequently visit the Baja region of Mexico. This is a place increasingly popular for weddings, kite surfing and general rest and relaxation. More frequently, however, it is starting to get a reputation of numerous scams on well heeled tourists.

Most notably is the double dipper gas scam where travelers head to a gas station before returning to their rental car to the airport to find out that their credit card does not work when it is inserted into the processing machine - followed by a demand is required to rectify the bill in cash; albeit in Pesos or US Dollars. More often than not, travelers with limited time before catching a flight assume their credit card transaction did not go through and readily handover cash, sometimes driving accompanied to a nearby ATM machine to make a withdrawal before speeding off to the airport for their flight home.

Fast forward several weeks and the traveler discovers that their credit card transaction for fuel actually did go through, so they paid twice. Then begins a contestation with the credit card company over the disputed charge.

While this scam is not isolated to the Baja region of Mexico, it is safe to say that the best way around this is to put aside cash (in local currency) as your last and final transaction payment before leaving the country. This will mean for future trips you will need to build this into your overall currency exchange at the beginning of your trip.

Related resources:
Beware the gas station scam in Mexico
The hidden cost of car rentals in Mexico
How to protect yourself when renting a car - Advice from IHateTaxis
Are cross-border car rentals possible?
Renting diesel in North America

Sunday, 1 March 2015

New Multan Airport targets March liftoff

New Multan International Airport Pakistan from Shujaat Azeem on Vimeo.

Pakistan's 'new' Multan Airport will finally... hopefully... be operational later this month.

The airport has been fraught with challenges. As recently as February 10th, the airport was set to be inaugurated before the end of February. While this target was not met, there was a final inspection of the facilities on February 27th.

Arrival of passengers on the first test
flight at Multan Airport today
Today saw the landing of the first test flight on the tarmac at Multan Airport, and an announcement that the airport will be operational sometime during May. Let's hope.

The new airport was apparently completed last year, but a lack of power prevented it from becoming operational (there is now a new grid station).

Previous stumbling blocks included cancellation of plans for a new greenfield construction, due to lack of funds, and modified plans to replace the existing terminal instead.

First bags!
Test flight photos by Saqlain Kazmi
via @raisinganchor
Along with new runways and an ILS (instrument landing system), the essentially new airport will boost capacity from 100,000 to 1 million passengers a year.

Information on transportation options for the new terminal are hard to find, even for us. For now, expect to take a taxi, and keep any eye on our Multan International Airport (MUX) transportation guide for updates.

The Mango Season  | Explored In addition to passenger services, the new airport will double mango exports from the region from 10,000 to 20,000 tons (how many planes does it take to fly 10,000 mangos?).

For more pictures, see the Multan Airport Facebook page.

Related resources:
Multan International Airport (MUX) transportation guide
New Multan airport to be inaugurated this month (March): Shujaat Azeem
Luck to smile on Multan in March
PM likely to open New Multan Airport on (February) 27th
Upgraded Multan airport likely to open next month (February)
New Multan Airport to complete by end of 2014
Qatar Airlines to start flights from Multan to Europe

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Golden Bear in absentia for new Taxi film

Taxis in Tehran
Jafar Panani's new film, Taxi, premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. On February 15, Panahi was awarded the Golden Bear for the film in absentia.

Taxi is a 2015 Iranian drama film starring and directed by Panahi. The documentary-like film is set in a Tehran taxi, driven by Panahi. The passengers, played by non-professional actors whose identities remain anonymous, confide to their taxi driver about their lives. The resultant film has been described as "a portrait of the Iranian capital".

The award was collected in Berlin by Panahi's niece, Hana Saeidi, who also appears in the film. The Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film editor, has been banned from making films and travelling since 2010. Panahi's feature film debut, The White Balloon, won the Caméra d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, the first such award won by an Iranian film.

Editor's note: Despite our name, we love honest taxi drivers, and are pleased to bring you this good news taxi story (see the story of how we got our name).

Related resources
Berlin film festival top prize goes to Jafar Panahi's Taxi - CBC
50 Reasons Why Taxi Driver Might Just Be The Greatest Film Of All Time - What Culture
10 Taxi episodes that find heart and humor in a dead-end job - AV Club
Taxi was one wild boozy ride... Danny DeVito recalls life on the classic sitcom - Daily Mail
Top 10 films about taxi drivers - Top 10 Films
Top 10 taxi drivers in movies - Harmony Cars blog
Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) transportation guide
Tehran Mehrabad International Airport (THR) transportation guide

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ridesharing NYC airport choppers take off

Great photo of Gotham Air choppers from their website
Gotham Air is now offering Manhattan business people and commuters an opportunity to skip street traffic and take to the air to reach John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in a matter of minutes with their new helicopter service. Starting this week, rides will go as low as $99 for those beta testing their website and thereafter fares could be on par or slightly higher than taking a taxi.

An app has been developed which enables potential customers to see which flights are available and which ones are still on standby waiting for the maximum number of seats to be filled before take-off.

Don't see a time you like? Request a new flight time, and as soon as 3 others book, your trip is confirmed. We see a Twitter hashtag taking hold.

Passengers head down to the Manhattan helipad to wait in the Gotham lounge before boarding the chopper with noise canceling headphones for their quick trip to the airport in record time.

This has the potential to once again make a small dent in NYC's taxi monopoly with more consumer choice. No word yet on flights from these airports, or on LaGuardia yet.

Related Resources
What It’s Like to Fly from Manhattan to JFK in Less Than Seven Minutes - Condé Nast Traveler
"Uber for Helicopters" Is Gross, Absurd and I Want to Use It Every Day - Gizmodo
Gotham Air is like Uber for helicopters in New York [w/video] - Autoblog

Monday, 9 February 2015

Orbitz drops Skiplagged lawsuit


We recently told you about the lawsuits launched by United Airlines and Orbitz against Skiplagged. Here's the story, in case you missed it: Going into court with dirty hands? Airline and online travel site sue
Today it was reported that Orbitz has dropped its lawsuit. Here are the details:
The jury is still out on the United Airlines suit.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Uber vs taxi: news update

Regular readers of this blog will know that we have been covering the emergence of how ridesharing companies (such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar) are shaking up taxi drivers and the regulators who govern them. While important, we don't want the Uber vs taxi story to overtake our blog, so we are bringing you broader news updates instead.

2014-01-26 | 23-52-16
creative commons image, joakimformo on Flickr
Here's a recap of recent ridesharing stories that are worth reading:

Hard-Charging Uber Tries Olive Branch - NY Times

Uber stands by drivers as Montreal seizes Uber cars - Mashable

Google vs. Uber: The Future of Ride Sharing - Bloomberg

Don't overload Uber, Lyft with new regulations

Vancouver fleshing out new taxi code: council at odds on how to regulate firms like Uber

Geico launches insurance product for Uber drivers

UberXL to carry larger groups in SUVs or minivans

Uber now complies with India’s two-factor authentication requirement, calls it unnecessary and burdensome

Uber Will Add Panic Button And Location/Journey Sharing In India On February 11

The Sleeping Giant: Uber’s Expansion into Greater China

Uber announces kitten delivery service in Australia, cat lovers go wild

Put to the test: Taxi v Uber

Almost 10,000 People Have Signed This Uber Driver's Petition to Add Tips to the App

Related resources
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Security issues threaten to define Uber in India