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Definitive Guide for Taxis at Bucharest Airport
Finding a reasonably priced, reliable taxi at Bucharest Otopeni Henri Coanda Airport is not always as simple as it should be. Bucharest Otopeni Airport has been home to some of the most costly cabs in the entire globe for years. Immediately after the 1989 revolutions, the airport was a true all-rounder.
Everyone was a decent match for dozens of driver (often not even taxi drivers) who would annoy and address incoming travellers who offer inexpensive trips to the town. Favorite " chauffeurs (almost always with large fees and with manipulated taximeters) were permitted to stop directly in front of the train station of arrival and by bending and breaking or breaking to keep away cheaper, decent cabs, so that ignorant tourists to the Rumanian capitol could end up spending 50 Euro - or even more - for a trip to the center of the town.
To make the arrival at the airport more serious, in 2004 a firm called Fly Taxi won a five-year contract for providing taxi service in Otopeni. There was a whole range of brilliant new automobiles waiting for the passenger right before arrival; all well and good, except that Fly Taxi was charging 3.50 Leis per kilometre: almost three more than a regular Bucharest taxi.
For those of us who wanted to make a reasonable payment, we had to call one of the Bucharest taxi firms and take the taxi to a big watch (armistice, in Romanian) standing at the arrival board. Taxis with the exception of Fly were not permitted on the dock.
Unbelievable, in order to stop this practise and compel them to use costly flying cabs, the airport officials disassembled the watch. Nevertheless, la ceaas ( on the watch ) had become a point of contact, and the unknown travellers could still use the place where it once was as a meeting place for taxi drivers.
For those who knew less and perhaps visited Bucharest for the first experience, there was no alternative but to take a fly taxi. Nevertheless, there was at least a taxi, and although it was costly, they were secure, and one knew at least how much a trip to the cities would be.
After the end of the month old flying taxi license Otopeni once again became a land of bandits. Certain cabs only (of which all newcomers were molested and exorbitantly charged) were permitted to enter and leave the arrival lounge, and the tradition of taxi calls and waits for them was resumed. The opening of the new departure point also made it possible to easily go to the departure points and take a taxi when the passenger has been disembarked.
In fact, this became the standard way for most locals to get a reasonably priced taxi at Otopeni. One young Chinese trainee was violated and killed by a taxi cabbie who was approaching her in the arrival area. Eventually, the airport - under pressurized management - ruled that enough was enough, and relocated to free the airport from insecure and fraudulent cabs.
This was the first airport where Otopeni residents could call the taxi of their choosing and have it picked up directly in front of the airport terminals. The only thing you had to do was order a taxi over six planes based in the arrival area. Those vending booths issued cards containing the data of the taxi (number plates, etc.) and had to be given to the taxi drivers.
Planes operated cabs from almost all of Bucharest's largest taxi operators, most of which charge the default fare of just 1.39 lire per mile. For those who want a little more comfort, you can order a more luxurious taxi. This system worked flawlessly and everyone - from the incoming passenger to the taxi driver - was satisfied.
However, since this is Romania and we are not permitted to do beautiful, effective things, the airport authorities last year resolved to cancel it and reinstate the taxi mafia. The airport in August 2015 introduced new rules on which taxi services should have entry to the area. Briefly, only taxi cars with luggage compartments of more than 500 liters that have been previously authorized by the airport may enter the airport.
All of a sudden, this means that several hundred Bucharest cabs that do not have such a trunk (either because they have LPG fuel cells in them or just because they are small cars) have been driven from the airport. The Bucharest Taxi Driver Federation screamed badly, and the airport retreated.
Ever since, the search for a low-cost taxi has become a complete raffle. Whilst the vending machine still works in theory, the pitiful low number of cheaper taxi cabs that have airport entrance means that in reality they usually cannot find a available one. All in all, it can take up to an hours to find a taxi if you are only dependent on the machinery.
We should say that if you are willing to exceed the quota (3. 50 Leis per kilometer), you will immediately find a taxi: either on the aircraft or outside, where for obvious reason only the airport managers know some rip-off taxi - usually from a firm named Class Taxi - may queu.
When we arrive in Otopeni, our recommendation is as follows. When you arrive before 9 p.m., the simplest (and fastest) way to get a budget taxi is to go through the departure check-in area ( turn right when you leave the luggage reclaim area) and take a taxi to drop off your leaving passenger. There is a constant flow of dependable, inexpensive Bucharest cabs throughout the whole working week and early evening: you will never have to spend more than a few moments waiting.
Only a few depart Otopeni later in the evening, so it is not really an alternative to take a taxi as it will drop off leaving people. Unless you are willing to spend an hours waiting at the taxi vending machine, you need to be a little more innovative. Just like a few years ago, it is best to call a Bucharest taxi service and see your la cea' taxi chauffeur (see above).
From a technical point of view, empty cabs are not permitted to access the departure area, but we have not (yet) received any report that they have been halted. Among the taxi operators in Bucharest who are well advised to try are Meridian (021 9444), Cristaxi (021 9466), Speed Taxi (021 9744) and Cobalcescu (021 9451). Therefore it is worthwhile to download a taxi application before departure.
Starfleet Taxi and Clever Taxi. Either app offers affordable and dependable cabs from a variety of Bucharest taxi operators. Now that Uber is present in Bucharest (and both useful and loved in the city), we have found it completely pointless in Otopeni. Driving into town costs from 75 Leis (depending on your end destination), but that's still much less expensive than rip-off cabs at the airport.
Booking your taxi in advanced is recommended; your chauffeur will be waiting for you in the arrival area. There is a 783 stop under the arrival lounge in front of our offices. The buses run every 30 min to the center of the center (Piata Unirii) during the whole 30 min and every 40 min through the whole 40 min to the north.
Otopeni 783 coach schedule in full is available at ratb.ro. Please be aware that the busses - known as "airport expresses" - actually stop at every stop along their itineraries. In addition, the busses are from Bucharest and are not suitable for arriving and departing from the airport (e.g. there is nowhere to store your luggage).
Still, it's inexpensive. An Activ pass must be purchased before getting on either of the two busses (get it from the small cabin on the right when you leave the arrival building). It can be charged at any Bucharest counter as often as you like, with as much balance as you like, and used on all Bucharest busses and streetcars.
By and large, it is not a poor small airport: there are many things much more serious - it is currently a PR catastrophe for Bucharest and Romania. To take a three-hour plane from London (or wherever) and then be greeted with a one-hour waiting for a taxi on your way in was (at the last check) not to be found anywhere in the handbook "How to make visitors to your cityscape welcome".
It was not a matter of logic to modify a system that works perfect and cut the number of cabs that have airport entrance by over 80 percent. Otopeni as such is an awkwardness. When we asked them instead why it was not possible to get a taxi, they responded with this insignificant testimony.