I had already checked in online when arriving at Stockholm Arlanda airport around 90 minutes before departure. There were two check-in desks assigned for TAROM in terminal 5, one for economy class passengers and one of Sky Priority customers, including business class passengers and status passengers in Skyteam.
The agent manning the Sky Priority desk was away but there was no wait at the economy class desk anyway. The main reason for passing the manned check-in desk was to have my boarding passes printed but also to enquire about lounge access. The first task was quickly sorted out, the second task seemed to be trickier as he simply had no clue and apparently had never seen a Flying Blue Platinum card, even though it is the official frequent flyer program also for TAROM.
The ground handling company Aviator was in charge of check-in for TAROM in Stockholm and they do have their own lounge in the non-Schengen section of the terminal, but after a few phone calls he mentioned I could go to one of the two Menzies lounges.
The security control was quick with virtually no line, although TAROM does not seem to make use of the fast track channel available.
There are two Menzies lounges in terminal 5, one called Menzies Business Lounge and one called Menzies Executive Lounge. None of the lounges had the TAROM logo on the screens at the respective entrances. At the end I decided to pass passport control and use the Aviator lounge instead using my Priority Pass, very conveniently located just a minute from the assigned gate.
The Aviator Lounge, officially called the “Stockholm Arlanda Airport Lounge”, is located in the non-Schengen area of concourse F in terminal 5. It is mostly used by non-European airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways. It is actually rather pleasant and depending on the time of the day it can be virtually empty.
The self-service buffet had some cold cuts with potato salad, bread rolls, fruits, yoghurt and a delicious chocolate cake. The drinks selection included beer, red and white wine (but no spirits), juices and soft drinks. There was also a good Nespresso machine for the coffee, very nice.
Boarding started early, already 35 minutes before scheduled departure time. Just a general boarding call with no pre-boarding announcement for Sky Priority customers. The aircraft in use today was a Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the TAROM 60th anniversary retro livery.
TAROM flight RO 332
Passing the business class cabin upon boarding I was surprised to see proper business class seats used onboard rather than the same seats as in economy class but with blocked middle seats. There were four rows of business class in a 2-2 configuration, which meant 16 seats in total.
The business class seats were wider and had more legroom than the ones in economy class. There was just one passenger in business class on the flight, an elderly woman.
Economy class started at row 5 and I was seated on the first row by the aisle, seat 05D. The cabin was an older style version with rather thick dark but very comfortable blue seats.
The boarding process was very quick and was completed by 11 am, 15 minutes before our departure time, and with few departures just before noon we were airborne even before the scheduled departure time had passed. The flight time to Bucharest was expected to be two hours and ten minutes.
Seat and cabin
The economy class seats onboard were very comfortable. In contrast to the thin Recaro seats, which are increasingly popular on European airline and which can be quite hard, these seats were very comfortable and had a decent legroom, at least on the first row of economy class.
The load in economy class was about 70 percent. There were screens above the aisle and also two screens in front of the first row of economy class showing mostly a flight map , but the screen on the right hand side (in front of my seat) was broken and it was somewhat hard to see the screen on the other side.
Food and drinks
Around 45 minutes after departure the inflight service started and one of the flight attendants passed through the cabin with the trolley.
The inflight service was a huge surprise, a small plastic bag was handed out as well as a hot meal. Not bad for an intra-Europe flight in economy class of just two hours.
The hot meal was chicken with pasta and vegetables. Perhaps not a huge culinary experience, but certainly not bad either.
The plastic bag contained a bread roll, butter, a dessert, a paper napkin, cutlery, salt and pepper. A second flight attendant passed with another trolley offering drinks, including red wine, white wine and beer and an above average selection of juices and other non-alcoholic drinks. I asked for a glass of white wine, which was tasty but rather sweet.
The whole meal concept was rather clever. After the meal the plastic bag (which contained the bread roll, the cutlery and the dessert) was used for the rubbish. So the foil container, the used cutlery, the napkin and so on were placed in the plastic bag, which made it very easy for the cabin crew to collect the rubbish. It also meant we did not have to wait for the cabin crew to clear the table, to get some space. It was all very clever indeed.
Coffee and tea were later offered, rather surprisingly the coffee was not brewed coffee but instant coffee from Jacobs, with just hot water served in a cup by the crew. I had also saved the dessert for the coffee service, a raspberry cake.
Later when visiting the lavatory I asked the flight attendant in the galley if it was possible to have a beer to drink, which was not a problem. The beer served was a local Romanian brand called Ursus.
The service was very friendly throughout the flight and all the cabin crew members spoke perfect English. Communication was not a problem whatsoever.
The early departure from Stockholm, together with a rather short flight time, meant we landed at Bucharest Henri Coanda airport at 2.20 pm, a whopping 40 minutes ahead of timetable. The international terminal at Bucharest airport is small and the transfer process was quick, which included a document check at a special counter opposite the immigration counters followed by a transfer security checkpoint. Not many passengers from the Stockholm flight seemed to have an international connection.
The TAROM flight was a very positive experience. It is not very often nowadays that you get a hot meal in economy class on an intra-Europe flight of two hours. The seats were very comfortable and the service polite and friendly. The early arrival time in Bucharest was of course another positive aspect of the experience. All-in-all this was a surprisingly good experience.