Travelers: Watch Out for These 6 Airport Scams
Published: May 4, 2018 | Updated: December 16, 2020 | Posted by: Mayee Gonzales | Lifestyle
Weary and hurrying travelers are common targets of airport scammers. Don’t let this ruin your vacation. Before flying to your destination, be informed of the common airport scams in the Philippines to avoid hassle and irrelevant costs. Here are six of the most common to watch out for.
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Airport taxi scam
Over the years, NAIA taxi drivers have become notorious for scamming tourists. Apart from stalling their meters, some drivers have also been reported for charging extremely high fares.
Last March, food vlogger Mikey Chen shared how he and his companions were asked to pay PHP 2,300 (USD 44) to go from NAIA Terminal 3 to the nearby Terminal 4. That month, vlogger Haley Dasovich also shared her experience with a NAIA taxi driver who asked her to pay PHP 500 for a trip from the airport to Rockwell.
Airport taxi scams like these are common so watch out for them. If you can, book a Grab instead of hailing white taxis that charge unbelievable fares. You can also ride yellow airport taxis as NAIA accredits them. However, note that these cabs have a higher flag-down rate.
Compared to other airport scams, “laglag-bala or “tanim-bala” is probably the most absurd. The scheme involves airport employees who allegedly plant bullets in unsuspecting passengers’ luggage so they can extort money from them.
In November 2015, 30 laglag-bala cases were reported by the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP ASG), alarming not only passengers but politicians as well. Zero laglag-bala cases were reported this year but travelers are still advised to guard their luggage when at the airport. It is also advisable to invest in a luggage cover to further secure your belongings.
Laslas-maleta is a pretty straightforward scam. Airport security personnel allegedly rip open luggage so they can steal their passengers’ personal belongings. In November 2017, an Overseas Filipino Worker from Japan claimed his luggage all slashed out, losing over PHP 20,000 worth of cosmetics and pasalubong. There are still no reports on who is behind the incident.
Overweight baggage scam
Traveling with heavy luggage? Make sure to weigh them before going to the airport. According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), there is a number of airline employees who don’t reset weighing scales before weighing another set of luggage so they can enforce an overweight baggage fine. This can cost you thousands of pesos so check if the scale starts at zero before handing over your things. You can also request another weighing attempt if you suspect foul play.
Last month, a Japanese tourist reported two airport security personnel for stealing 1,700 Australian dollars (PHP 68,000) from his wallet. The incident occurred while the two employees were inspecting his bag before boarding a connecting flight to Cebu.
Immigration officer bribe
It’s normal to be interrogated by an immigration officer. However, when it becomes too much watch out because they might just bribe you. Another scam discovered by the NBI, NAIA immigration officers question your travel documents incessantly and not let you pass through unless you pay a bribe. If you experience this, don’t give in even if that means missing your flight. Request to speak to a supervisor or another airport officer to defend your travel documents.
Beware of airport scammers whether you’re flying domestic or abroad. Always guard your belongings and understand the procedures and fees involved to avoid getting scammed. Knowing what to do and how to react in events like this allows for a smoother, more memorable trip.
Mayee is an experienced writer, editor, and content strategist. She enjoys writing about personal finance and lifestyle topics. On her free time, she reads, travels, and watches a lot of movies. She’s also a proud cat-mom. Follow Mayee on LinkedIn.