One of the most vulnerable points in international travel is arrival at a foreign airport and subsequent movement to your accommodation or first meeting. You are more likely than not going to be tired and a little disoriented and if it is your first visit to the particular city you will need to navigate the formalities such as passport control, perhaps reclaim your checked baggage and find your transportation. Perhaps dealing with a language barrier while you are doing this.
Criminals know you are vulnerable at this point and therefore lurk in and around airports waiting to prey on unsuspecting travelers. This may take the form of petty theft of baggage, pickpocketing or fraudulent taxi services where you are grossly over charged to more violent and dangerous types of crime like kidnapping and armed robbery.
To limit your risk consider packing lightly whenever possible and avoiding checked bags – or at least multiple checked bags if possible. The more encumbered you are the more likely you will be to be distracted and therefore a more attractive a target you will be.
It goes without saying that the more you are able to rest or sleep on your flight — especially if its a long flight — the more rested and refreshed and therefore more aware you are likely to be.
A critical component of staying safe during the arrival process is selecting your ground transportation. Prior to departing you should research options for ground transportation at your destination and determine what is best and most appropriate for you. These options may run the full spectrum from public transportation to a close protection detail depending on the location and the specific circumstances.
In some Western European cities such as Paris, London and Amsterdam – there are reasonably efficient train services that will take you directly from the airport to the center of the city. These can be used safely provided you take reasonable measures to guard against pickpockets and other petty criminals.
In most locations the best option is usually to be met at the airport by a trusted local contact if you have one. If this is not possible then the next best option is to use prearranged transportation. This can be composed of anything from a car service or limo service to a close protection detail depending on the threat level of the location and the nature of the visit. When using prearranged transportation you should develop identification protocols in advance. You may want to not use your name or company name on the sign and instead have the driver use a predetermined alpha-numeric or other identifier. When possible at higher risk locations its good to try to get a photo of the driver in advance. Upon meeting the driver on arrival you may also want to ask for his identification or ask him questions to determine he is in fact your assigned driver. You should also have a contingency plan in mind in case you cannot find the driver.
Another less desirable option is to take a taxi. In mid-to-high threat locations taxis should generally be avoided due to the prevalence of taxi crime. When they must be taken it is strongly recommended to use a taxi stand at the terminal and not hail a taxi or accept an offer from touts who may be soliciting passengers in the terminal. In some airports there are prepaid taxi kiosks where you can arrange a taxi and prepay for your journey. If this option is not available and a taxi must be used then check with an information booth, taxi dispatcher or other source in the airport and get an idea of approximate cost for your trip and then verify the cost with the driver.