The Minneapolis Airport taxi mess
As most readers know well, there has been a disgraceful situation developing at Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport, where Somali taxis drives (who comprise a large share of taxi drivers locally) are refusing to carry passengers who bring with them wine or other alcohol. A friend of a friend forwarded the following open letter from one of the local taxi companies, published in local free—distribution newspapers:
In case you have been following the current issue with Muslim drivers refusing customers carrying alcohol at the Minneapolis—St. Paul Airport, we wanted to give you some insight from our perspective. First, Airport Taxi is very glad to see the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) withdraw its proposal to allow drivers to put different color top lights on their cab allowing them to turn down any customer carrying alcohol.
At Airport Taxi, we do not allow a driver to turn down any customer unless there is a safety issue. In fact, all of our drivers must sign a waiver stating they will not refuse service to someone carrying alcohol, getting picked up or dropped off at a liquor store, or who had been consuming alcohol. This signed waiver is a prerequisite before a driver can affiliate with our company. If we are notified that one of our drivers refused service for the reasons stated above the driver is disciplined or we terminate our contract with them.
Ironically, we have received many letters, email, and phone calls from our customers who are outraged that we are allowing such a thing to happen since our company name, Airport Taxi, can be confused to mean that we are affiliated with the MAC. The fact is we are just one of many service companies licensed at the airport.
We are hoping the MAC will make a very simple decision: require drivers to sign an alcohol transport waiver as a requirement to getting licensed by the airport and put in controls to make sure it is adhered to. It can almost be guaranteed this problem would go away and the riding public will once again feel that the taxi customer does come first. This is certainly the case with Airport Taxi's Customers.
Until that time, we want you to know that you, the customer, still have a choice. Instead of going to the general taxi line upon your return to the airport, you can utilize our VIP Special Call Service which allows you to contact the company of your choice at no additional charge. This will ensure that you are never turned down for any reason.
We are enclosing a $5.00 coupon complete with Airport Taxi's Special Call telephone number and instructions on how to use the service. Please give it a try the next time you need to take a cab home from the airport. You can book your reservation to the airport with Airport Taxi by simply calling 952—928—0000 or you can book it online at www.airport—towntaxi.com
Steve Pint, President/CEO, Airport Taxi and Town Taxi
Mr. Pint strikes me as a smart businessman and a reasonable person. I have occasion to fly to Minneapolis and may give his company a try. In the meantime, the entire metropolitan area has been disgraced by the Airport Commission's cavalier PC cave—in to accommodate a bogus fatwa, made in Minnesota and observed nowhere else in the world. Given that the 2008 Republican National Convention will bring in thousands of memebrs of the world press, some of them carrying duty—free shop bottles of alcoholic beverages, the authorities should act to ensure that religious bigotry is not allowed to affect public accommodations.
Thomas Lifson 10 28 06