Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport: Free of Duty Free

Got this email this morning… I reproduce it as sent.

Hi Craig,

I don’t have your direct e-mail address, so I’m writing via the general office one.

Future editions of Bucharest IYP should warn unwary travellers departing from Otopeni/Henri Coanda Airport that there is no Duty Free Shopping at the airport.

After passing immigration & customs, in the departure hall where you would normally find Duty Free shopping in any other international airport on the planet, the shops are infact full price – and more. The prices in the wine shop for example (a commodity I know well), are infact double those in even good wine shops in Bucharest, such as Vin Expert Unirea, not to mention the cheaper hypermarkets. There can be no justification for this, it’s outright profiteering, taking advantage of an uninformed captive market.

I’ve not checked out in detail the other traditional duty free purchases – spirits, cigarettes, perfume, etc, but for sure they are not any cheaper than outside the airport.

Furthermore, all purchases, except for newspapers & magazines, must be made in EURO not RON – so any visitor hoping to use up their unspent local currency will be disappointed. I thought this practice was confined to a declining handful of regimes desperate for hard currency – Cuba, North Korea, etc, certainly not a member of the EU.

The airport website acknowledges blandly that ‘according to the Romanian legislation in force’ the shops in the departure hall sell ‘duty paid products’. However, it is a scandal and a final rip-off to departing visitors – which your readers should be aware of.

  • Sorry anyone who posted there are no Duty Free Shops in Otopeni (Henri Coanda) Airport in Bucharest. You are mistaken. I bought my Cigarettes for 32,90 RON for 200 Cigarettes while they cost 130 Ron for 200 in the local Supermarket. I am sure you will see the difference?

    I bought McCleans Sensitive in the local Carrefour cos I needed a temporary solution for Toothache before I got home. 5 Minutes after using it ny Toothache was gone. If this is an infeior product I can’t wait to try the normal one.
    Also, the Coca Cola is of the same top quality and not to be bettered taste which I only ever before found in Coca Cola produced in Modena Italy in the Green Bottles.

    So anyone wondering if there are Duty Free Shops in Otopeni Henri Coanda Airport in Bucharest, be assured they are indeed there.

  • Again, Romania is BACKWARD.

    Parmalat, I have heard this claim before about inferior products being shipped to the East. Certainly, for instance, if you buy a Macintosh computer in Bucharest you get one made in Hungary as opposed to China when you buy it in the US. Whether or not though a Hungarian assembly line worker produces an inferior Mac compared to his/her Chinese counterpart is up for debate.

    • Parmalat

      It’s very interesting how the US prefers to work with China so much and Europe avoids them.
      And also it’s very interesting how Chinese factories can make goods with such a variable quality. You can buy from China both rubbish as well as top-quality goods.
      I remember since I lived in Paris (more than 10 years ago) that Coca Cola company for example had a variety of flavours for its drinks in Paris hypermarkets while in Romania there were only 4 drinks available (Coca Cola, Fanta Orange and Lemon and Sprite).
      Also I heard that Procter and Gamble has a factory somewhere in Romania and the workers don’t really respect the recipes so the final products are of somewhat a lower quality than it’s supposed to be. But this is quite an old story maybe things have changed…
      So, I presume that since you got straight to the laptop part, skipping other consumers’ goods, you haven’t encoutered much difference in Colgate toothpaste or Mc Donalds or Coca Cola for example…?

      • Parmalat,

        I bring my new Mac computers with me from the US as well as my contact lens solution and toothpaste. I have never been to a McDonalds since the 1980s and don’t drink any Coca Cola. I want to be healthy! Romanians should realize that just because Mcdonalds and Coco Cola are Western they aren’t necessarily ‘good’. Any educated person I know in West Europe or the US doesn’t go near Mcdonalds or Coco Cola or fast food. It’s recipe for disaster. a Mcdonalds hamburger has more than 4,000 different ‘part’s to it. It is no ordinary piece of meat you’d get in rural Romania, trust me.

  • Parmalat

    There’s no real duty free shop in Bucharest. You can check the other ones too and you’ll see that the prices are at least of the same value as in hypermarkets.
    But for someone who wants to eat some quality (foreign – made for the western markets) chocolate, buying from the Gara de Nord so-called duty free would be ok.
    And since we got to this part – Craig, Davin, can you confirm me that certain well-known brands like for example Procter & Gamble offer the same products but of a lower quality in the Eastern countries than in the West? Or is it just my imagination? Thanks!