When landing in one of Bangkok International Airports, you can choose between taking the official taxi stand and paying a 50 baht surcharge, or going upstairs to take a taxi at the departures concourse. Here's why paying that additional 50 baht is not only good for the taxi driver, but also for Thai society.
When getting into Bangkok after landing at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang International Airports, most people will consider catching a cab back into the city. Instantly, the dilemma becomes whether you should go downstairs and take a taxi from the legitimate taxi stand, paying a 50 baht surcharge in the process, or whether you should go upstairs to jump into a cab from the arrivals hall before the security guard chases them away.
In Bangkok, taxi drivers are allowed to send passengers to the airport, but must immediately move along - they are not allowed to pick up additional fares. That privilege is reserved for drivers who have registered their taxis with the Airport first, after which they need to get into line to wait for their fare.
The drivers who pick up passengers from the departure level on the other hand, either do it quickly when no one is looking, or slip the security guard a bribe for him to turn a blind eye. Plus, as a passenger, you don't need to pay the taxi driver the 50 baht surcharge.
So why would you ever need to take the official taxi stand again? For starters, all the drivers are registered, and so the slip they hand you contains their personal details in case you forget something on the taxi or want to make a complaint. Also, what most people don't know is that the taxi driver actually gets to keep the 50 baht - a decent amount for them, and certainly an affordable one for most of us.
What's probably most important here is that by paying 50 baht more, we're breaking the cycle of corruption that plagues Thai society and allows incompetence to run unchecked. Every little part helps, so do your part and take a cab from the official taxi stand.
Damyen Ayers http://www.flickr.com/photos/omad/