Hailing a taxi is one of those cultural things that are very different from country to country. It is equally as different as the color and style of cab available to you in each and every corner of the globe. The cultural differences between cabs are as vast as the iconic yellow taxicabs in New York City and the black cabs in London. If you do not want to look like a total tourist schlub, here are the differences between hailing a cab in the US and getting a taxi in Great Britain.
Stick Your Arm out in London, Wave a Finger/Hand in NYC
It is good to know that in both countries, you need to be close to the curb, but you probably did not know that signaling the cabs is a little different. Most New Yorkers will stick the arm out, curl most of their fingers under, and use their pointer finger in the air while waving from the wrist to signal that they want a cab to pull over and pick them up. In England, you stick your arm out, with your hand open, and no fingers pointing because it is rude to point. If you forget, the cabbie may stick pick you up in London, but they will definitely know before you even get into the cab that you are not British.
Yell or Don't Yell?
In New York, it is common to loudly screech "Taxi!" from the curb to get a taxi driver's attention and get him/her to pull over and pick you up. Do not do that in London! Not only is it illegal, but it is also considered extremely rude and again, you will be pegged for a rude American. You have to simply stand there on the curb, away from bus stops and tube entrances, with your arm out and fingers not pointing, and wait. Cabbies will notice and begin pulling over.
It is extremely common for you to get into a cab in London and find it already very full. You might get into a cab with two to four other people. This is completely normal. In New York, you only share a cab when other people agree to share the cab with you. You may only find yourself getting into a cab with someone else by accident, or getting into a cab where you are traveling to the same destination or traveling the same way as the other passenger and both of you agree to share the cab.
If you need transportation in Great Britain, contact services such as Hire Airport Taxi.