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> Tashkent airport: tips and tricks, Travel in this part of the world is not always easy or straightforward
post Aug 17 2010, 07:35 PM
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Group: Local Expert
Posts: 47
Joined: 5-July 07
From: Central Asia/Middle East
Member No.: 67301

Here are a few observations that might come in handy for some, and for others will just prove amusing.
At the Tashkent International Airport, one has several options - you can travel regular tourist class into and out of the airport, or you can pay for CIP (Certified important personnel) or VIP class. Your travel company or your business may tell you about the CIP (Certified important personnel) option for coming in to Tashkent and for leaving Tashkent as an option they encourage, thinking it'll improve your safety or the speed of transit. And it used to be pretty reasonable, until just recently when they bumped the price to $150 USD.

Well, our company used to provide this service automatically, so I experienced 'CIP' service a lot. The reality is that arrival into Tashkent via the CIP service is absolutely 100% NOT superior to regular tourist travel. It takes twice as long to get your bags, and you sit in a lounge that (despite the new non-smoking signs) is filled with cigarette smoke and there is only one luggage scanner and one person checking you out. Coming into Tashkent as a regular traveler class, you wait in a line to get through customs but it's not more than 10 minutes, AND you get your bags on the belt quickly and then it's just a matter of passing through the multiple scanners and out you go.

Now, LEAVING Uzbekistan via regular tourist class is a challenge just because you have to wait in a long crowded line to get your bags scanned and turn in your customs declaration and the folks that are in charge of scanning your bags and looking at your declarations are incredibly slow-moving. When you get through that, you wait in another line to get your passport stamped. But to be honest, it's not that different from going to the CIP lounge - where you still have to wait in lines, and the CIP lounge itself has one little bar/drinks area one one overpriced duty-free, while the regular tourist lounge area has a much better bar and MUCH better duty free shops and selections. And the chairs are just fine... yes CIP lounge has some sofas, but they're not worth the 150 bucks!

So, that said, just like so many things, if you're willing or able to grease some palms, everything gets easier (so I'm told... my company has a strict policy against bribery so I only know this next part from stories told to me from others, and witnessing some of it). First of all, when arriving in Tashkent, you apparently can offer one of the CIP coordinator people or drivers some US Dollars to get your bags EARLY... miraculously, supposedly, you will not have to wait 90 minutes for your bags sitting in a smoke-choked lounge with no bathroom. Leaving Tashkent, you can supposedly offer cash and you'll find yourself miraculously seated in business class - but not with a business class meal. (this is on Uzbek airways, mind you - - the few other airlines that fly in, like turkish air and aeroflot and privatair (for Lufthansa), don't play these games). I myself, while in line to check in TOURIST class (not CIP) have had an airline person in uniform offer to get me a business class seat if I'd give him 50 US dollars in cash and he'd make it happen. I refused, but when I told this story to other folks it seems that this is common and regular.

So. My advice? CIP is not worth the money (unless you're the type who feels comfortable paying 'extra' but even then it's really not good), and flying regular isn't so bad in terms of waiting or options or security, and in fact is SUPERIOR to CIP once you get to the waiting area - - more shops, duty free selection, and a bar.

My two cents!

Sleepless in Tashkent
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