TAROM Switches to Buy-on-Board Service

Romanian national airline TAROM will cease serving complimentary drinks and food and introduce a buy-on-board service for economy class passengers in 2023.

TAROM switch to buy-on-board

TAROM’s CEO Mihăiţă Ursu announced that the Romanian national airline will switch to buy-on-board service in an interview with Financial Intelligence.

Mr Ursu said: “TAROM has completed the preparations that will allow the launch of buy-on-board service starting in 2023.

“Thus, from January 1, we will provide a range of facilities and reintroduce the catering service containing a variety of products, both for business class passengers and – for a cost – for passengers travelling in economy class.”

He also said that economy class passengers will be able to pre-select meals when buying their tickets.

According to Mr Ursu this is the “trend in world civil aviation”, adding that TAROM “must adapt” to it.

atr 72-600
TAROM ATR 72-600. ©Paliparan

Economy class

The enhancement of the on-board service will hit TAROM economy class passengers the hardest.

In previous years, economy class passengers flying TAROM would get a complimentary drink and a snack on their shorter routes, while passengers flying medium-haul flights would even receive a free hot meal, a drink of choice and tea or coffee.

You can see some recent examples in my review of a TAROM economy class flight from Rome to Bucharest (snack service) and my review of a TAROM flight from Brussels to Bucharest (meal service).

When it comes to on-board service, TAROM’s economy class will soon be no different from low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air and Ryanair.

Update 02-03-2023: I recently took a TAROM economy class flight from Bucharest to Brussels featuring the new buy-on-board service, so if you are curious about the quality and how it impacted my flight, do read the review.

tarom meal economy class review
TAROM’s complimentary food and drink service on a Brussels to Bucharest flight. ©Paliparan

Business class

Passengers flying with TAROM in business class will not be impacted by the switch to buy-on-board service as they will still receive complimentary food and drinks.

However, it is not yet known whether TAROM’s business class product will remain the same as it was previously or whether there might be some enhancements here as well.

As I always found TAROM business class to be a rather poor product in comparison to other European airlines, so I’m quite curious to see if there is any change in quality.

tarom business class meal food
The disappointing business class meal on my Paris-Bucharest flight with TAROM. ©Paliparan


Interestingly, TAROM is one of the few airlines in the world which hasn’t reintroduced their normal on-board service, which was discontinued during the COVID pandemic.

Indeed, on a business class flight from Madrid to Bucharest last year I only got a lousy bottle of water – the same as passengers flying economy.

At the time I already felt that this had much more to do with cost-cutting than with any COVID protocols since almost every other airline in Europe had already resumed their normal service.

This has been confirmed by Mr Ursu, who said that “TAROM has been wanting to resume on-board services for a long time, but only through buy-on-board”.

business class
TAROM’s business class cabin on the Boeing 737-700. ©Paliparan

Other airlines

TAROM follows a Europe-wide trend as more and more legacy carriers are making the switch to buy-on-board.

Lufthansa has been the most prominent airline in Europe to make the switch in recent years from being a full-service airline to buy-on-board on their intra-European flight.

It leaves airlines like Air France and Turkish Airlines as some of the select few in Europe where you can still expect a full in-flight service on board.

tarom in-flight service
TAROM Boeing 737 at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan


TAROM will switch to buy-on-board service for economy class passengers, although business class passengers can reportedly still look forward to complimentary in-flight service.

Although I always found TAROM’s business class product to be extremely lacklustre in comparison to their competitors, I thought it was a nice touch that you would still receive free food and drinks in economy.

Sure, the quality of the food in economy class was by no means anything special, but I appreciated that TAROM was one of the few airlines in Europe to hold on to complimentary in-flight service.

Seeing another airline switching to buy-on-board is always a sad development in my opinion as service cutbacks never translate into lower ticket costs but are just meant for airlines to increase their profits (or in the case of TAROM to mitigate their losses).

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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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