Otopeni Airport – When Best Value Clearly Is Not

We published an article two years ago warning travellers that the price of Romanian wine being sold in the Duty Free areas of Otopeni does not reflect the concept of a product free from local duty or taxes. The branding of the stores in the Duty Free areas is Best Value, which is clearly inaccurate an the prices were closer to Duty Plus a Lot.

On a recent trip abroad we were able to carry out a quick spot check on departure and then again on arrival as there is now a Best Value retail area to tempt you with perfume, chocolate and booze while you wait for your luggage. The new sales area at Otopeni is an enormous improvement on what was there before with a much bigger selection of goodies, but there are still hazards for potential shoppers.

The prices for the standard selection of international spirits were generally competitive with other airports – travellers will make comparisons between different airports over time and some airports deliberately aim at competitive price points. It’s the products that are not sold outside Romania where the anomaly occurs. The prices of the Romanian wines that we checked were all approximately twice what you would pay for the same wines in a supermarket in Bucharest or online. The wines that we looked at were:

Halewood Feteasca Neagra Private Reserve
Prince Stirbey Crâmposie Selectionata
Theia Chardonnay
Hyperion Feteasca Neagra

We could see many other familiar bottles all at very unfamiliar prices as well. The store assistant that we spoke to looked embarrassed when asked her why the bottle of wine that we had picked up was costing twice as much as it would in Mega Image (Romanian supermarket chain) but could not offer any explanation.

The issue that we have with these prices now is the same as before. Tourists arriving to Romania with no knowledge of local prices will be ripped off as the natural assumption is that Duty Free goods are sold at very competitive prices. It’s also the same if you want to take a gift when travelling abroad (home, for many people) – you pick up a couple of bottles of fine Romanian wine and pay twice the normal price for the privilege.

Rarely has caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) been so pertinent. You have been warned – if you want to take some wine abroad, buy it first and put it into your luggage. If you have case with a solid exterior the baggage tossers should not be able to damage your treasure. If you are travelling with only hand luggage and want to buy a last minute gift of Romanian wine, be aware….