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Is there anyway to tell scam taxis in SVO airport, Moscow without pre-booking? I can't pre-book due to the fact I can't use my phone abroad (receiving SMS messages/calls which is required to book a taxi online). Is there an official taxi desk?

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    An essentially universal piece of advice is to ignore people who hunt for tourists right behind the customs doors. This is the same in Russia, India, Spain, you name it. – Dmitry Grigoryev Aug 30 at 10:38
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    Always fun getting off a Thomas Cook plane in Cancun. The cabin crew actually have to warn you to ignore the individuals forming a gauntlet just outside customs who shout "Thomas Cook! Thomas Cook!" trying to make people think they are running the transfer to resort, whereas in fact they will take you in their taxi or minibus then charge you a fortune on arrival. I like to think I'm generally quite conscious and circumspect about such things, but even being warned struggled a little to confidently determine where I was supposed to be going. Dangerous! – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 30 at 11:02
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    I know little about Moscow, but my solution elsewhere has been to unfold my bicycle, get on it as soon as I exit the terminal, and pedal past them, either ignoring or glaring. (Yeah, I know some people don’t have that option.) – WGroleau Aug 30 at 14:43
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    @WGroleau my solution elsewhere is to walk right past them and enter the train station, buy a ticket from the machine, and take the train downtown. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 31 at 21:51
  • I’ve done that, too, but I generally use trains or buses only when there’s not enough time to bike or walk. – WGroleau Aug 31 at 23:48
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To avoid any trouble with taxis, you can use the Aeroexpress train.

It will get you to the city centre for ~8$ (500 RUB). You can use wireless payment options at the automatic gates: PayPass, PayWave, etc. It departs every half an hour for most of the day. The other two Moscow airports also have an Aeroexpress, with the exception of ZIA.

If you plan to use taxi hailing, better pick up a local SIM with a data plan (a $5 plan would get you a month of unlimited data). Then you can use Uber/Yandex/Gett.

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First of all, ignore the people that run up to you when you get out of arrivals. They can see you are not a local and will charge you 4 times the price. Never pay more than 1250 ₽ for a taxi to the Red Square.

You can order a taxi from the Yandex taxi stand (Uber equivalent), located in each terminal at the arrivals section. This is open 24/7. They may ask your phone to pre-book but often the person behind the desk can use their phone and write down the registration for you.

Some more information can be viewed on the airport website here.

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    Yandex taxi stand (Uber equivalent) — they're not just equivalent, Uber Russia merged with Yandex Taxi few years ago. – user28434 Aug 30 at 16:02
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    While the Yandex booth will arrange the taxi for you, worth noting that this service is marked up maybe 30% to 50% above the price it would be if you used the Yandex app directly on your phone. – Peter M. Aug 31 at 11:15
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    @PeterM. In Moscow, getting ripped off by only 30% or 50% could actually be a safe bet. – Eric Duminil Sep 1 at 8:49
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Travelling without smartphone is nuts, seriously. Fortunately Russian operators (well, at least Beeline, not sure about others) have packages that are charged _per_day_, not per month, have quite good Internet plans, and can be disabled/enabled through Internet. So my suggestion is to get local number in official operator booth at Airport (NOT an "all-in-one" re-seller booths near exit gates, which charge extra!), charge it with small amount (you can ask to lower the amount they offer by default), then disable it through website on day you're leaving the country, so you're not charged for following days, and re-enable it when you come back to Russia. So far, I've seen so good package offers only in Russia.

As for taxi: Yandex, Gett, Bolt, whatever works through Internet. Uber got merged into Yandex in Russia.

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    Not everybody has a smartphone. Some people chose not to use one for various reasons. – Willeke Aug 31 at 0:09
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    "Travelling without smartphone is nuts, seriously. " one could then always wonder how people did travel 10 or 15 years ago without smartphones – Patrick Mevzek Aug 31 at 2:11
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    @PatrickMevzek the problem is: times are changing, and many people now expect you to use Internet, when in past it was ok just to ask. So without connection it's easy to feel handicapped (or make things much more complicated than they need to be) in today's world. – metalim Aug 31 at 10:40
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    This is a good answer. At the arrival areas in the terminal, buy pre-paid SIM direct from the operator. Also get local cash from the ATM, as the credit card payment option probably won't work for a first-timer. The Yandex app itself is intuitive enough to use, and you can do everything in English language. – Peter M. Aug 31 at 11:23
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    @Willeke you can buy cheapest one right at the airport at price even below that you'd spend on taxi ride. Yes it'll be slow, but still good enough to run any taxi aggregation app. I just googled "андроид за тысячу" (android for thousand (of roubles)) and top results show well known federal hardware networks. Buying cheap phone and fair-priced ride beats paying 3-5 times more for taxi. – Oleg V. Volkov Sep 1 at 4:40
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Yes, there are official taxi desks in Moscow airports. Here you can see what they look like:

taxi desk

Source

This photo was taken at Sheremetyevo 2 years ago.

But Moscow is not the world's best place for "offline" people. I'd recommend to buy a local phone with internet as soon as possible. It would be very difficult to plan any trips or buy any tickets without internet.

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You can use Wifi in the airport to request Uber or Yandex taxi

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    This doesn’t answer the question, the issue is I don’t have a phone I can use there for receiving a text, not for WiFi – user89966 Aug 29 at 21:19
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    I assumed you can't use your phone due to issues with your provider (like banned roaming) and not the device itself. I was wrong then – RiaD Aug 29 at 21:23
  • and you also could have tablet or laptop – RiaD Aug 29 at 21:31
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    By federal law, public WiFi in the Russian federation requires the user identify/"authenticate" themselves via SMS (or identity document). This makes public WiFi essentially unusable without a working (and often local) phone number. svo.aero/en/services/in-airport/wi-fi – A. Rex Aug 30 at 0:55
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    Public WiFi tends to be extremely unreliable (not just in Russia, just about everywhere). Last time I visited SVO (they didn't have that federal identification law yet), I saw their public WiFi on my smartphone for, like, half a minute, then it disappeared, never to be seen again. It took me about 5 minutes to get a cheap pre-paid local SIM with Internet access, though. That's a much better option if you have a smartphone or any compatible communication device. – Headcrab Aug 30 at 6:59

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