Pilots and flight attendants are obviously some of the most experienced travelers out there, especially those who work for a large airline that flies all around the world like British Airways. So I was surprised to read that off-duty crew members were robbed for making a few rookie mistakes. The crew haven’t been identified so they could have indeed been rookies, as airlines are in the middle of a hiring spree. RELATED: Airline Crew Find Themselves in Hot Water After Dancing and Posing on Wing of 777

According to Metro on MSN, “A flight from Brazil to London was delayed by a whole day after the crew had a row about their taxi fare and ended up getting robbed. The British Airways (BA) flight was due to fly from Rio de Janerio to London Heathrow on Wednesday evening but it didn’t end up going until the following evening. The crew members insisted on being dropped off at the side of the road despite it being the middle of the night because they thought the fare was a ‘rip off’. The taxi then dropped the group at the side of the road in the Penha neighbourhood in the north of Rio, where they were robbed.”

The Sun is reporting that BA canceled the flight and that it was two crew members, which makes more sense. I’m betting they were young, new hires who wanted to go out and explore a new city and maybe go to a nightclub on their 24-hour layover. Most seasoned travelers, especially crew members, just want to catch up on sleep and stay near their hotel, in this case, at the world famous Copacabana Beach.

The Daily Mail wrote, “But within minutes of getting out of the cab to hail a ride-share car, they were reportedly robbed. The crew had been waiting for another cab on the street in Penha, a tough neighbourhood miles from their hotel in Copacabana.”

What’s not surprising is that they were robbed in Brazil, which is notorious for being unsafe for both locals and tourists. I shouldn’t talk since I live in California and San Francisco’s Bay Area and other parts of the state are even more unsafe when it comes to personal belongings. TIP: Don’t ever leave your bags, or anything for that matter, in your parked car if you ever want to see them again. Thieves (mostly in the Bay Area but in other parts of the state as well), will smash your window and grab your belongings in five seconds. Watch this crazy video below:

But that’s a whole other story. In Rio and other touristy parts of the world, it’s smart to follow this advice:

Take only legal taxis, not tourist taxis
There’s a big difference between legal taxis and tourist taxis. Just think about the roaming drivers who try to entice you when you walk out of JFK International Airport. I wrote a tip about them and on tourist taxis in places like Istanbul and Bangkok. They’re the ones who hang out in front of tourist attractions or popular areas asking if you need a ride and they are normally scammers and will charge you much more money.

Have a reputable hotel or restaurant call you a taxi
If you’re at a hotel, restaurant or nightclub, have the establishment call a taxi for you instead or taking one waiting outside of the entrance, which is what I suspect happened in the case of the British Airways flight crew in Rio.

Negotiate before getting in
If you’re getting in an official taxi, make sure they use the taxi meter. If they refuse, like they often do in Bangkok, either get out and get a new one or kindly negotiate with the driver before starting your trip. I remember times in Thailand where the driver would try and charge me 60 baht more than what the hotel said the fare should be. I used to get annoyed until I realized I was arguing over what was equivalent to a couple of US dollars for a 30-minute drive. So, I would make the driver’s day by doubling what they were asking for.

Use an app like Uber
If the city or country you’re in has a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, use it. You won’t need to worry about them changing the fare or transferring physical cash. It also tracks the driver so you can share your location with your friends, family or colleagues.

When I’m on business or with my family and want a reliable, professional driver, I use Blacklane (I used to be one of their brand ambassadors). Just find out in advance what app locals use. My family and I were in Italy over the summer and we used the taxi app FreeNow. It works like Uber but is for official taxis so it’s much cheaper and the cars are more plentiful.

Argue before or after
If you are going to argue over the fare, do it before getting into the vehicle or at your destination if it’s a tourist hotel. This way, you can get help from the valet or front desk if there’s any language or cultural barriers or if they’re trying to rip you off. Don’t start an argument midway through your ride.

Don’t wear jewelry or designer clothes, accessories or bags
I don’t know what the BA flight crew had stolen but every traveler knows not to wear any jewelry, watches or accessories when traveling in high-crime destinations. Keep your phone in your pocket and just bring some cash, a credit card and ID. Don’t bring more. One of my friends from Brazil says everyone they know has been robbed and that the criminals will take your life for $10 so just give them what they want and don’t fight back. A friend of mine once said she was jogging in Sao Paolo and they took her Nike shoes.

Don’t drink too much alcohol or anything a driver gives you
This could be a whole separate story but one of my Australian friends was in Miami, Florida for work and he went out partying. While walking back drunk to his hotel a driver claiming to be from Uber pulled up and asked if he wanted a ride. He foolishly jumped in. The next thing he remembered was being offered a bottled water by the driver and waking up in the morning on the side of the road without his watch or wallet. He’s lucky to be alive.

This post isn’t to scare you. I’ve been to Rio multiple times and I love it. I’ve always said that if it weren’t for the crime, it would be one of the best cities in the world. I really do love it there and have never been robbed. But I do follow the advice above.


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1 Comment On "British Airways Crew Make Rookie Mistakes and Get Robbed in Rio – Here’s What Travelers Can Learn"
  1. Buzzy Gordon|

    In one of the world’s busiest airports, Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv, there are constant PA system reminders to take only taxis ordered for you by the official airport dispatchers; the dispatchers even give you an official form with the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) logo on it, specifying the name and ID information of your taxi and the driver.
    Unfortunately, this still did not stop the driver from ripping off unsuspecting tourists from Hong Kong, to the tune of double the meter fare. But when I tried to complain to the IAA, they had the the nerve to say that the drivers are independent, and they take no responsibility — they would not even consider suspending the driver from picking passengers any more, leaving him free to keep fleecing tourists, with the Israeli Ministry of Transportation’s blessing.
    Bottom line, your advice was spot on: insist on a meter fare, and ask for a receipt.

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