Review: TAROM 737-700 Economy Class from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca

After flying from Budapest to Bucharest on an ATR the day before, I took a flight to Cluj-Napoca. This was the second flight of a side trip to Romania I took during a month-long trip to Europe.

Continue reading this review to see what the domestic economy class flight on TAROM’s 737-700 was like.

TAROM 737-700 Economy Class
TAROM 737-700 economy class.

Booking the Flight

I booked this domestic TAROM flight from Bucharest to Cluj a few days before departure as part of an itinerary that also included a flight from Budapest to Bucharest using Delta SkyMiles.

The two flights combined cost me 10,000 miles and 20,700 Hungarian forints (approx. 60 dollars) in taxes and fees.

Check-in & Boarding at Bucharest Airport

I left Relax Casa Victoria around 6AM and, after a 10-minute walk, I got to Bucharest Airport. There, I made my way to the check-in area used by TAROM.

There were three check-in desks and some kiosks available for domestic passengers. All of those were deserted. While the queue for international flight check-in was fairly long (except for the SkyPriority lane), quite a few check-in desks were open.

As for myself, I chose my window seat during online check-in (advance seat selection cost 12 EUR for window/aisle and 25 EUR for emergency exit wor seats) and got a printed boarding pass in Budapest the day before, so I skipped the check-in desks and headed straight to security.

With the security checkpoint being shared by both domestic and international passengers, it took about ten minutes to get through.

Bucharest Airport
Bucharest Airport.
Domestic TAROM Check-in at Bucharest Airport
Domestic check-in.
International TAROM Check-in at Bucharest Airport
International check-in.

Past security, the domestic departures area was on the left. Immigration and the international departures area was on the right.

The domestic area consisted of gates 50 through 57 and was quite small and I could imagine it getting quite crowded at peak times (especially considering that low-cost flights moved there from Baneasa Airport a decade ago). That said, with a cafe, a couple of shops, a smoking room, etc., it was functional.

Bucharest Airport Domestic Terminal
Gates 50-57.
Bucharest Airport Domestic Terminal
Domestic terminal waiting area.

My flight to Cluj-Napoca was departing from gate 52. Like all of the other domestic gates, boarding was done using buses.

Boarding started at 6:50AM – 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. There was no priority boarding which only made sense given that it would just mean waiting on the bus for a longer time.

I got on the first bus which started moving about 10 minutes after boarding started and dropped us off in front of our aircraft another five minutes later. I quite enjoyed the ride around the apron which not only gave me a chance to see some nice aircraft but also a beautiful sunrise.

Boarding TAROM Flight 641
TAROM flight 641 boarding.
Bucharest Airport WizzAir
Line-up of aircraft at Bucharest Airport.
Bucharest Airporport Saab 340
Saab 340.

The bus stopped in front of not just any TAROM Boeing 737-700 but one wearing the airline’s retro livery. While it was not a surprise (I was able to check the aircraft that would be operating the flight on FlightRadar24 beforehand), I was still happy to see the aircraft in person.

After grabbing some photos of the retro jet, I climbed up the stairs and got onboard.

TAROM 737-700 YR-BGG Retro Jet
TAROM’s retro 737-700.
TAROM 737-700 YR-BGG Retro Jet
Boarding.

TAROM 737-700 Economy Class Cabin & Seat

Stepping onboard the TAROM 737-700, I realized that it was not just the livery that was retro but also the interior to an extent. Aside from the overhead panels (which also featured individual air vents), one could easily mistake the Next Generation 737-700 for the Classic 737-500.

Responsible for the retro vibe onboard were, among other things, the thick, plush seats and fixed CRT overhead screens.

TAROM 737-700 Cabin
…it wasn’t just the livery that was retro.

The aircraft, like other TAROM 737-700s, was equipped with 116 seats in two classes – 14 in business class and 102 in economy class.

Unlike the TAROM’s A318s and most other European airlines’ narrowbodies which use economy class seats even for business class, the 737-700 was equipped with proper business class seats in a 2-2 layout. Economy class was in a standard 3-3 layout.

TAROM 737-700 Business Class
Business class.
TAROM 737-700 Economy Class
Economy class.

Because of how thick the seats were, the legroom was tighter than on more modern seats with the same seat pitch. That said, it was still fine for the short domestic hop and the thick padding made the seats comfortable.

There were no features on the seat aside from the obligatory tray table and seat pocket.

The seat pocket housed a safety card, an onboard shopping catalog, and some other printed materials. While I don’t think it was available for sale on the flight I was on, it was nice to see a model of the retro 737-700 listed in the catalog.

TAROM 737-700 Economy Class
Legroom.
TAROM 737-700 Economy Class Seat Pocket
Contents of the seat pocket.
TAROM 737-700 Models
TAROM 737-700 models.

TAROM Flight 641 Departure

About fifteen minutes after I settled onboard, another bus with the remainder of the passengers came. Then, the cabin crew made a welcome announcement and, at 7:31AM, closed the doors. We were pushed back 13 minutes behind schedule, at 7:33AM.

At 7:41AM, we took off from Bucharest Otopeni Airport’s runway 08L. Making a sharp left turn after take-off, we were offered a nice view of the airport.

TAROM 737-700 in Bucharest
Waiting for departure next to a TAROM A318.
TAROM 737-700 Departing Bucharest
Taxiing for departure.
TAROM 737-700 Departing Bucharest
Bucharest Airport as seen shortly after take-off.

TAROM Domestic In-Flight Service

The seatbelt signs were switched off just four minutes after take-off.

Shortly after that, the cabin crew went through the cabin serving cups of water. While nothing to write home about, I appreciated that. Especially so considering that water had to be purchased on the international flight with TAROM I took the day before.

On the other hand, unlike on the international flight, there were no other catering options available (for free or for purchase). That said, considering that it was just a 30-minute domestic hop, that was not an issue at all.

Understandably, there was no in-flight entertainment or wi-fi.

TAROM Domestic Economy Class Service
Water.
TAROM 737-700 Flying to Cluj
Cruising to Cluj.

Arrival at Cluj-Napoca Airport

Just over ten minutes after take-off, the captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that we were cruising at an altitude of 8,500 meters. He also mentioned that we’d be encountering some turbulence and that the seatbelt signs would be switched back on.

Another five minutes later, the flight attendants passed through the cabin collecting trash and made an announcement asking passengers to stow their luggage under the seat in front of them or in the overhead compartment.

Then, at 8:12AM or just half an hour after take-off, we landed on Cluj-Napoca Airport’s runway 25. Nice views of the hills around the airport could be had during the descent.

TAROM 737-700 Flying to Cluj
Descending over beautiful scenery.
TAROM 737-700 Flying to Cluj
Shortly before landing.
TAROM 737-700 Landing at Cluj
Landing.

We came to a full stop at a remote parking position at 8:16AM – just a minute behind schedule. From there, it took another few minutes until we were able to get off the plane, onto the waiting buses, and into the terminal.

TAROM 737-700 Disembarking at Cluj
Disembarking.
TAROM 737-700 Retro Jet at Cluj Airport
TAROM 737-700 retro jet in Cluj.
Cluj Airport Domestic Arrivals
Domestic arrivals.

TAROM 737-700 Economy Class Summary

As long as the flight arrives on time, there is not much that can go wrong with a 30-minute domestic flight. That pretty much summarizes my experience with flying from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca onboard TAROM’s 737-700.

The retro livery and interior were a nice bonus and so was the free water service.

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