As a native Chicagoan I have taken plenty of cab rides. I know how to hail a cab and the etiquette to use when interacting with the driver, which to be perfectly honest is very little. However, when taking a taxi ride in London, the procedure is sharply different.
Here is a list of the steps to properly hail a cab in London.
- Like in most cities, the taxi’s light on top of the cab must be on. The light signals that the taxicab can be hired.
- When tailing a cab in London generally I wave – I don’t yell out Taxi
- If you are at a busy train station or airport there is a chances that there is queue (line) for a taxi. This system is very orderly, and you must wait in the line unless you would like your life to end at the moment of jumping the queue.
- When the taxi has pulled over after you’ve hailed it, or it’s your turn in the taxi rank, politely go to the front window and ask the driver if he or she will take you to your destination. Unlike the U.S. destination is discussed before entering the cab.
- To talk to the cab driver there is an intercom system, usually located near the seats. Be polite and it is polite to say hello. Generally conversation should be on lighter matters. Most London cab drivers are friendly and be happy to chat.
- When you have reached your destination you may leave a tip. Usually round up to the nearest pound or 10% of the fare is acceptable. If you feel your cabbie has gone over and above service you are welcome to tip more.
- Generally avoid Mini-cabs – they aren’t licensed Black Cab drivers and you may not be able to trust them.
By using this tips to hail a taxi in London, you are assured not to make a cultural snafu. It is also important to know that London taxi cab drivers must study and take a test in order to drive a cab in London. I would argue that they are the most reliable cab service in the world. They will not drive you around the same block three times to run up the meter. Trust your London, cabbie, he or she is extremely qualified.
Do You Have Your Own London Taxi Tip?