Review: TAROM Lounge Bucharest Airport

Filed Under: Other Airlines

To return from Bucharest to the US we booked a discounted business class ticket to New York — we booked TAROM A318 business class from Bucharest to London, and Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 business class from London to New York. In the next installment I’ll talk about the pricing.

Our flight from Bucharest to London was departing at 12:20PM, and we got to the airport at around 10AM.

Bucharest Airport check-in hall

At Bucharest Airport there’s a separate check-in desk for each departure, and our London flight wasn’t yet posted. However, we found the TAROM SkyPriority check-in desk, so headed there.

When we told them we were flying to London they said check in would only open at 10:30AM, under two hours before departure. However, after explaining we didn’t have any checked bags they reluctantly checked us in.

One interesting note — the employees had several different types of uniforms, and for that matter we saw all kinds of TAROM employees wearing non-company sweatshirts, hoodies, etc. I was a bit surprised by the lack of consistency in that regard. I assume they were all TAROM employees, and it wasn’t just “bring your friend to work” day?

TAROM business class check-in Bucharest

Security was quick and friendly, as there was no one else in line. We then headed through immigration, which only took a couple of minutes.

One thing I can’t wrap my head around is all of the airport advertisements for duty free. Below are pictures of a few of the advertisements.

Bucharest Airport advertising

Bucharest Airport advertising

Bucharest Airport advertising

They even have the below display.

Bucharest Airport advertising

I have so many questions about this advertisement:

  • I understand that sexism/objectifying women differs around the world, and clearly in Romania that’s still okay, but wow
  • It’s a bit odd for all the duty free advertisements at a commercial airport to involve private jets; is buying a bottle of Svedka supposed to make me feel like I’m flying private?
  • More importantly, I find this to be a really ineffective ad; what are they actually advertising, because there’s no call to action, and what are the rewards?

We followed the signage towards the TAROM Lounge, which was towards the end of the terminal. I was surprised to find that TAROM operated their own lounge, as I figured the airport just had a contract lounge shared by all carriers, but that’s not the case — there are two separate lounges.

Bucharest Airport airside terminal

The escalator to the lounge was at the end of the terminal.

Escalators to TAROM Lounge Bucharest

TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest exterior

At the entryway we presented our boarding passes, and were quickly admitted. The lounge is open to SkyTeam business class passengers, as well as SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers.

Inside the entrance and to the left was a smoking room.

TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest smoking lounge

The remainder of the lounge was to the right. While the lounge felt pretty generic and IKEAish, I thought it was still reasonably nice and modern.

TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest

There was some seating near the entrance, then there was the buffet, and then most of the seating was towards the back.

TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest

TAROM Lounge Bucharest buffet

Towards the back of the lounge were dining tables with chairs, as well as circular seating areas.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

There was also an office desk you could work from.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest seating

The lounge had views of the apron, which were quite nice, and on the other side of the lounge there were interior views of the terminal and escalator.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest view

TAROM Lounge Bucharest view

As far as the food & drinks go, the selection wasn’t terrible, but also wasn’t impressive. There was self serve water, soft drinks, coffee, tea, juice, wine, beer, and hard liquor.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest drinks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest coffee & tea

TAROM Lounge Bucharest alcohol

TAROM Lounge Bucharest drinks

To eat there was yogurt, pastries, croissants, chips, nuts, snack mix, fresh fruit, and finger sandwiches.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest food

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

TAROM Lounge Bucharest snacks

Unfortunately the lounge didn’t have bathrooms, but rather you had to use the public bathrooms just outside the lounge.

TAROM Lounge Bucharest toilets

Wifi in the lounge was fast and free, so we spent some time getting caught up on work before our wifi-less flight. Our boarding pass didn’t indicate the boarding time, so we headed to the gate at around 11:30AM.

Bucharest Airport terminal

Our flight was departing from gate 12, just a short walk away (there was a casino on the way there).

Bucharest Airport casino

The gate agent showed up at around 11:45AM, and then at 11:55AM boarding started, with SkyPriority passengers being invited to board first, via the lane on the right.

Bucharest Airport gate

I was probably a little bit too excited about our TAROM flight, but they are one of the last alliance airlines I haven’t flown, so…

TAROM Lounge Bucharest Bottom Line

On the plus side, Bucharest Airport is fairly easy to use, so that’s good. As far as the lounge itself goes, it was totally fine and unremarkable. It was about in line with what I’d expect from any contract lounge in Europe, even though in this case it’s an airline operated lounge that isn’t open to Priority Pass.

  1. The TAROM lounge is also open fot other airline passengers, I always use it as well when flying Turkish or Aegean for example (both in J as well as in Y courtesy of my *G card) so the lounge is in fact somewhat of an universal lounge at OTP.

    I’m surprised there were no queues or crowds whatsoever, even though the noon departures bank isn’t the most busy. If going to OTP between 5-9am the airport is a zoo. The airport was designed with a capacity of 7 million passengers per year and now it has a traffic of 14 million passengers per year.

    At peak traffic (especially morning), the TAROM lounge can be unbearably overcrowded and lounge and free airport wifi not working. It’s a highly mediocre lounge at best.

  2. “I was surprised to find that TAROM operated their own lounge”

    Why were you surprised? Not trying to be snarky, just curious. I’m guessing most airlines in that part of Europe don’t usually operate their own lounge?

  3. @ Aaron — I’ve found that many of the smaller regional airlines don’t actually operate their own lounges, but rather use contract lounges. For example, Adria in Ljubljana (RIP), Croatia Airlines in Zagreb, and Czech Airlines in Prague, come to mind. Heck, even Air Europa uses a contract lounge in Madrid.

  4. What surprised me most on your post is the fact that you did a great trip while you were travelling WITHOUT Checked Luggage?! Can you explain that to me please.
    The Tarom lounge is like you say, nothing special but nice, please note that OTP has had a complete renewal about 10 years ago.
    Still a great airport!

  5. OTP is garbage, in the downstairs gates “bus gates” area, you can find cockroaches roaming around, there’s no facilities (not even a water fountain anywhere) and the prices for food are higher than in Paris or Munich. A properly poor airport.

  6. A post I found interesting, thanks, as a comparison to going thru Belgrade airport a few weeks ago. Air Serbia has a dedicated lounge there which was quite nice, and uncrowded, at least at 6am. From the photos, Belgrade (Nikola Tesla Airport) looks smaller – maybe a little older too, but very easy to negotiate.

  7. It seems the Tarom lounge and the non-Tarom lounge are more or less the same and possibly same catering (the food looks exactly the same for when I spent my time in non-Tarom lounge on TK J). The two differences being that Tarom lounge is bigger and the non-Tarom lounge has a bathroom.

  8. I dont see any sexism. You like to see good looking guys and they are all around that girl. You westerners are programed to be afraid of beauty, female beauty.
    Launge is OK.

  9. Looks like they upgraded or updated the lounge…or at least changed out the flooring and furniture since the last time I was there a summer ago.

  10. Lucky, it’s not a casino as such. In many European countries (and particularly the UK), there are thousands (literally) of ‘slot machine arcades’. In the old days anyone (even children) could use them, nowadays it’s 18 and over. You also find the odd single slot machine in bars, pubs and clubs.

    I visit OTP quite a lot. I’ve never found it a pleasant experience – ever. Unless there’s been an upgrade to the non-TAROM lounges (I think there are at least 2), the catering is not as good as the TAROM one you reviewed and the seating is stained and very tired – albeit the same Ikea type. There is also a VIP lounge, which I’ve never seen anymore than the outside.

    The best development at OTP, is the building of a Hilton Garden Inn adjacent to the airport. I once missed a flight at OTP due to at an overnight snowstorm with the taxi taking 2 hours from the city centre to OTP. I then had to spend 5 hours at OTP for the next flight to LRH. Utter misery.

  11. My understanding is that the airport operates all three lounges (the third being the “domestic” lounge, which was closed the one time I was there, and had a three-hour layover).
    When I went through there ten days ago, there wasn’t a single space available on arrival; 15 min later, the place was empty.
    Looking forward to the Tarom review. My flight actually had real business class seats: they were right in front of my bulkhead middle seat that the Tarom web app wouldn’t let me change. Good to see they’ll do anything to keep elites sitting in front.

  12. Otopeni Airport is a nice and easily access to everything. Good food and drinks selections.
    But they do not set their A/C system to a decent temperature. It is too warm, and in smaller bathrooms it is awfully hot. One time I was there , I almost passed out, literally. Then, the passport check area, after you land, it is very small and crowded all the time.
    And one more thing -as important as the other matters I have mentioned- all of you at the customs…SMILE!!!!!Every single time I been to Romania, I didn’t see not even one person that works there to smile. They all look so grumpy, totally uninviting. The only airport where employees do not or do not want to smile.

  13. I travel once a year or so to Romania, via OTP.

    1) The Tarom lounge – pretty lame. I especially dislike the 2 liter water bottles and the pretty bad food. I prefer going to the food court area, which is located on the lowest level of the terminal.

    2) The ads – there’s no sexism. Just a really immature way of trying to get the attention of the public. Does it work? No idea.

    3) The A/C dialed low – serious issue in the summer time, here and throughout the country. The same applies to other parts of Europe I visited (Rome and Barcelona are two recent examples). The problem is that the locals are terrified of catching a cold due to the draft.

    4) Tarom – this airline was created during the communist regime and remains owned by the government, three decades after the fall of the communism. Because the management is named by politicians, the airline tends to be pretty badly managed and there’s rampant nepotism. Combine that with the Latin-style chaos (Romania has a half-Latin culture) and you get the current situation. The good news is that the airline has had a pretty good safety record and, every time I’ve flown it I was pleased with the experience.

    5) The airport – thanks to a quickly developing economy, the passenger traffic has exploded over the past 10-15 years. The airport is much much better than it used to be and will be expanded relatively soon. With minor exceptions, I was pleased with using it.

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