At any airport, at any moment there are hundreds of hungry taxi drivers circling around and waiting for their golden opportunity to take a bite off that sweet western tourist.
The only certain way for you to avoid becoming their pray is to order a taxi through a mobile app. Go to this page to learn how to do it and what apps to use.
This article is for those who still think that any other way of ordering it is a good idea. Here are a couple of scenarios that you might consider normal but should definitely avoid getting into if you don't want to get ripped (or even R.I.P.ed).
1) Once you get out of the customs, pretty much regardless of the time of the day you'll see a bunch of people offering you 'official' taxi rides from companies based in the airport. They might be just announcing it to the crowd, but they also might approach you directly, especially if you look like a western person with money.
So, those are real official taxi promoters about 60% of the time. And taking it like that wouldn't be something completely outrageous. A lot of people who didn't read this article, would end up doing this. Because, your first reflex is always to look for something that has 'official' in its name. That's normal.
But as you would imagine, the word 'official' always cost you something. So taking it this way would make you overpay about 2-2,5 times the normal rate of 1000 RUB. And... it would be a relatively good rate.
However, those advertisers might not always be from one of the official airport taxis. And instead of bringing you to a special desk with taxi logos and a lady dressed in smart casual, they could just bring you to a random dude waiting outside with his car.
Now, this would be the worst case scenario for you. Because not only that the price in this case will be even higher, but the guy will charge you separately just for walking you to that car. And predictably, at the end of your ride the rate can additionally jump up from the agreed number to any other sum limited only by the driver's imagination.
Taking it this way might be even more expensive than hailing it on the street. The minimum you'll pay in this case in total will be 5000-7000 RUB. In some rare, deeply unapologetic scenarios it can be around 10000-12000 RUB. And that, unfortunately, is based on true stories of other travelers.
2) What if you just stop a random car outside of the airport exit yourself? - 4000-5000 RUB.
It can slightly vary. There's always some profiling involved on behalf of the driver. Some nationalities, some languages might get a bit of a discount. But as a tourist from an English-speaking country or Western Europe you'll most likely get the maximum rate.
Side note: If you happen to take that kind ride and feel that being ripped off is inevitable, remember whether the driver hesitated telling you the rate. Because if he didn't, it means that not only you look like a western tourist with money, but like a western tourist with enough money for him not to feel bad about it. Which, I guess, you can take as a compliment to make yourself feel slightly better at the end of the day.
3) What if you stop a random car with a taxi logo and a yellow licence plate? - 4000-5000 RUB.
Yes, yellow plates are given to drivers that register their cars in some kind of national registry of taxis. And technically, complaining to their employer might lead to their exclusion from that list and cause them a lot of headache. But will you really complain? Will you?..
That's how they think as well. So 'yellow' cars will certainly try to be more cautious. But at the end of the day, if you're stopping them on the street, and they don't turn on the taximeter - you WILL get ripped off just like in any other car.
The ONLY way for you to get a normal rate without using a mobile app is to speak Russian or ask your Russian friend (if you happen to have one with you) to do the talking.
Russian people have long figured all of their schemes, can be much more effective at complaining afterwards or... might just punch them in the face. So drivers feel much less enthusiastic about testing those tricks on local population.
Even some heavily foreign version of Russian will significantly improve your chances of getting a better deal (though not a totally fair price).
If that's not an option - go to this page that will tell you everything you need about ordering a taxi online.