Review: TAROM Economy Class Brussels to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)

In this review, we will fly with TAROM in economy class from Brussels to Bucharest on a Boeing 737-800.

Delay

Having spent a nice time in the Diamond Lounge at Brussels Airport, it was time to board my final flight on this trip. After the disappointing flight in TAROM’s business class earlier this trip, I was curious how this flight in economy would compare.

The flight to Bucharest posted a delay of about an hour before boarding even started. Fortunately, I always pro-actively check the inbound flight on Flightradar24. Even though the flight monitors at the airport said the flight was departing on time, I knew this would not be the case given the plane which would operate the flight departed an hour late from Bucharest on its way to Brussels.

At least it meant that I could wait in the comfort of the lounge instead of waiting in limbo at the gate area. Only some 20 minutes before the actual departure time – and well after boarding was supposed to have started – did the airport monitors finally showed as well that the flight would be delayed by an hour.

Boarding

Shortly before the new boarding time was supposed to start I left the lounge for the gate, which was only a short walk away. Boarding was a smooth affair and priority boarding was neatly observed by the gate agents.

Brussels (BRU) to Bucharest Otopeni (OTP)
Flight RO374
– Boeing 737-800 – Economy class, seat 6A
Departure: 7.55p
m – Arrival: 11.35pm
Departure: 8.55pm – Arrival: 00.35am (
+1)
Flight time: 2h40m – Distance: 1,093 miles
Costs: 134 EUR for OSL-BRU-OTP one-way

brussels bucharest bru otp
The last flight of this trip would take me from Brussels to Bucharest. ©Great Circle Mapper

TAROM

I’m quite a regular flyer when it comes to TAROM and have developed a love-hate relationship with them over the past years. On a good day, flying TAROM is something of an old-school charm, with outdated but comfortable seats and a decent in-flight service with hot meals served even in economy on longer European hops.

Even on a domestic flight on TAROM you will still get a snack and a drink no matter how short the flight time is.

On a bad day, on the wrong plane and with the wrong crew, it can be a torturous affair. The same old planes are prone to just too much wear-and-tear and sometimes look like they haven’t even be cleaned properly. Crews can be extremely grumpy, serve you a barely edible meal, and disappear for the rest of the flight.

This flight would have a bit of both worlds.

Boeing 737-800 seat

The flight was off to a good start when I boarded the plane as it turned out it was operated by a brand new Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior (colourful LED mood lighting and a roomier cabin due to the design of the overhead storage bins).

Today’s flight was operated in an all-economy class configuration. The leather seat itself was a perfectly comfortable, with a decent seat pitch and shoulder and elbow room.

Although sometimes the more modern slimline seats being used in aircraft tend to be more uncomfortable than the better padded old-fashioned seats of yore, I thought these seats were perfectly comfortable for a flight of around three hours in length.

The seats on my flight were not equipped with power sockets or USB ports, let alone personal entertainment screens – although TAROM does have a select few planes which have them. The TAROM fleet is such an odd collection of different plane types that you really cannot know in advance which plane will operate your flight.

Currently, none of the TAROM planes are equipped with WiFi internet.

tarom boeing 737-800 economy review
Modern leather seats on the TAROM Boeing 737-800. ©Paliparan
tarom boeing 737-800 seat economy class review
TAROM Boeing 737-800. ©Paliparan

Departure

The flight load was relatively light and only around 30 percent of all seats were taken and both seats next to me ended up empty. We finally pushed back from our gate one hour late.

After a short taxi ride we finally took off for Bucharest.

tarom boarding
Other passengers boarding the Boeing 737-800. ©Paliparan
bulgaria air brussels
A Bulgaria Air plane parked next to our TAROM aeroplane. ©Paliparan
brussels departure
Bright city lights of Brussels as seen from the window. ©Paliparan

Meal service

TAROM generally has a decent in-flight product as even in economy you can always expect at least a snack and a drink no matter how short your flight is.

On longer flights within Europe (I believe the benchmark is longer than 2 hours in length), TAROM even serves a hot meal – which was the case as well on this Brussels to Bucharest flight.

Unfortunately, the meal being served was one of the worst I have ever seen in many years. Just on the eye alone it looked unappetising or even downright disgusting.

The meal consisted of chicken meat drenched in a weird, watery white sauce with some extremely dry rice on the side. I took one bite just to try it out and gave the rest a pass. An equally dry bun, small cup of butter and a prepackaged strawberry cake were served with the meal as well.

As a matter of comparison, I attached two more pictures of other TAROM meals as well to give a more balanced picture what you can expect on board your TAROM flight in economy class.

tarom meal economy class review
The downright disgusting meal on my Brussels to Bucharest flight. It looked like someone vomited on it! ©Paliparan
tarom meal economy class review
By comparison, this pasta carbonara meal on another Brussels to Bucharest flight was actually quite good. ©Paliparan
tarom seafood meal
A special meal (SFML – seafood) which I pre-ordered on a Nice to Bucharest flight. The fish itself was tasty, although the veggies and rice were extremely dry and tasteless. The cup of fruit which came with it was however a nice addition. ©Paliparan

Drinks

TAROM serves complimentary drinks, beer and wine included. After the meal service, the crew makes another round through the cabin for tea and coffee service as well.

Arrival

I dozed off for the rest of the flight and only woke up when the crew prepared the cabin for final descent into Bucharest. We finally touched down a bit over an hour after our scheduled arrival time.

Fortunately, there were no queues at all at passport control and within minutes after disembarking I was in an Uber on my way home.

In short

TAROM’s economy product is actually quite good and fairly competitive. Most of the planes – including this Boeing 737-800 I was travelling on – have comfortable seats with decent legroom. It surely ranks a notch above every low-cost airlines and even to some other full-service airlines in Europe.

The same counts for the meal service, as TAROM is one of the few remaining European airlines which will still offer you a complimentary warm meal and drinks, including alcohol, as well as tea and coffee service.

It tells a lot that the difference between economy and business class on TAROM is extremely small, although that has as much to do with TAROM’s extremely lacklustre and disappointing business class product than it has with its decent economy service.

My biggest problem with TAROM’s economy class product is how unpredictable and inconsistent it can be. Due to the TAROM fleet being so diverse, there is no way to tell in advance which plane will operate your flight.

It can be a nice modern plane like the Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior like I had on this flight or an even better plane of the same type which has USB sockets as well. It can be an older type of plane with comfortable old-school seating, but it can also be an ancient plane which almost falls apart from the inside and looks like it hasn’t been properly cleaned.

The same goes for the meals and service. The meal on this flight looked like someone puked on it, but I had also plenty of flights with tasty meals. The crew on this flight was friendly enough, but I had plenty of flights with extremely moody crews.

All combined, I still think TAROM offers a good economy product. If the price is right, I would gladly fly TAROM again and I can certainly recommend them.

End of the trip

The flight from Brussels to Bucharest marked the end of my epic trip across Eurasia with 15 flights in total across 7 countries, seeing destinations as far away as Irkutsk in icy cold Siberia.

On this trip I had some unforgettable travel memories such as walking on a frozen Lake Baikal, dog sledding through the Siberian taiga forests, taking some beautiful train rides in Norway and admiring the beauty of Azerbaijan.

If you followed along from the beginning, thanks for reading along! If you are just chiming in reading this flight review, I do recommend to check out the dozens of other chapters below.

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Trip report index

1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Oslo Sandefjord Torp (Airbus A321)
2. A Day in the Norwegian Capital of Oslo
3. Review: Norwegian Railways Night Train Oslo-Stavanger in a Private Sleeper
4. Review: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Stavanger
5. Stavanger – A Great Norwegian City Trip Surprise
6. Review: North Sea Lounge Stavanger Airport
7. Review: KLM Cityhopper Business Class Stavanger to Amsterdam (Embraer RJ-175)
8. Guide to the Carnival Celebrations in the Netherlands
9. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
10. Review: Air France Business Class Amsterdam to Paris (Airbus A319)
11. Review: ‘Salon Paris’ Business Class Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2C
12. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Paris to Moscow (Airbus A320)
13. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Lounge Moscow Sheremetyevo
14. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Moscow to Irkutsk (Boeing 737-800)
15. Review: Matreshka Hotel, Irkutsk
16. Irkutsk Trip Report: Exploring the ‘Paris of Siberia’ in Winter
17. Review: Mayak Hotel, Listvyanka (Lake Baikal)
18. A Winter Trip to the Frozen Wonderland of Lake Baikal
19. Review: Ibis Irkutsk Center Hotel, Irkutsk
20. Review: Domestic Business Class Lounge Irkutsk Airport
21. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Irkutsk to Moscow (Boeing 737-800)
22. Review: Pushkin Hotel, Moscow
23. A 24 Hour Stopover in the Russian Capital of Moscow
24. Review: ‘Moscow’ and ‘Jazz’ Business Lounges Moscow Sheremetyevo Terminal D
25. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Moscow to Paris (Airbus A320)
26. Review: TAROM Business Class Paris to Bucharest (Airbus A318)
27. Review: TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
28. Review: Air France Business Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
29. A Short Overnight Stopover in Paris
30. Review: Sheltair Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2D
31. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Paris to Baku (Airbus A320)
32. Review: Old City Hotel and Apartments, Baku, Azerbaijan 
33. Destination Baku: An Intriguing Mix Between Old and New
34. Guide: Train Travel in Azerbaijan
35. Sheki: Azerbaijan’s Most Lovely Town and Springboard to the Caucasus
36. Must Be the Ganja! A Visit to the City of Ganja in Azerbaijan
37. Review: Shah Palace Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
38. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Lounge Baku Airport
39. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Baku to Paris (Airbus A320)
40. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
41. Review: KLM Business Class Paris to Amsterdam (Boeing 737)
42. Review: KLM Business Class Amsterdam to Bergen (Boeing 737)
43. Blissful Bergen – Is It Really Norway’s Most Beautiful City?
44. Review: Bergen to Oslo on a Norwegian Intercity Train (Bergensbanen Railway)
45. The Flamsbana Railway – From the Myrdal Mountains to the Fjord at Flam
46. Review: SAS Economy Class Oslo to Brussels (Boeing 737-600)
47. Review: Diamond Lounge Brussels Airport Pier B Non-Schengen
48. Review: TAROM Economy Class (Boeing 737-800) Brussels to Bucharest (current chapter)

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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