Whether you’re arriving domestically or internationally, Tashkent Airport is surprisingly hassle-free. There’s barely any walking, luggage comes out at a reasonable pace and border checks are now very smooth. This didn’t use to be the case, and anyone who arrived at Tashkent Airport more than about five years ago wouldn’t recognise it now.
Once you’re off your flight (you’ll probably be put on one of those buses that drives you 5 metres to an entrance you could easily walk to) passport check is right as you enter. Once through, my suggestion is to go straight to the counter in the centre and pick yourself up a sim card while you wait for your bags to appear. I picked up a decent sim card for USD 13 provided by Ucell which works throughout the country, unless of course, like anywhere, if you head to the middle of nowhere. For example when we were at the Aral Sea , there wasn’t any mobile reception.
ATMs are available inside the terminal which you can use to get some local cash. There is a money changer, but if you arrive late at night the counter may be closed.
Once you have picked up your bags, head through another security check where they will most likely ask you “do you have a drone?”. Just answer whatever and walk straight past.
There are taxis waiting outside, however my suggestion is to download the Yandex app. Taxis will try to charge you around 100,000 UZS ($10) which is robbery. Yandex can get you a car for as little as 10-15,000 UZS ($1-$1.50).
Welcome to Tashkent.
Now I hate complaining, but I have little good to say about Tashkent Airport when it comes to departure.
Check in is very easy. There are not many flights that leave from Tashkent, so even though the counters are limited it is not too much of an issue. The lady that checked me in last time was extremely nice and even told me to say hi to her sister who lives in Australia (lol). This is where the good stuff ends though.
You then head through security where they will make you take your shoes off old-school style. You then enter the departures area where you find a chaotic duty-free and limited seating.
Is there food? Well, no. I had a flight departing at 10:30am which meant I was in the terminal around 9am. Apparently this is peak time to close the “Air Café”. I tried to buy a bottle of water here and was met with a stern “не работает” or “not working”. Ok, sure, cool no problem.
You can buy bottles of water and some limited chocolates and nuts etc from duty-free if you are desperate for sustenance. When I was there last, I took my items up to a counter with three staff members working at it and was told to go to another counter. In true Central Asian style this “other counter” had a long line and one person scanning items. I waited for 20 minutes to buy two bottles of water for my 7.5 hour flight back to London.
Now you may be thinking, perhaps my experience was due to a lack of flights departing. No. There were several big flights departing to Moscow, Istanbul, Almaty and London, which meant that the terminal was packed with passengers, just to add to the wonderful experience. There were also many staff members, but no one seemed to be doing anything.
It does look like the departures area is getting a facelift, which may be why there are so many limited services currently, however for a big city like Tashkent it’s fairly dismal for the time being.
In conclusion, Tashkent Airport is simple and easy, but lacks in services for the time being. I chose to fly this time from Tashkent because I can’t resist cheap airline tickets. If you get the option to fly from a different Central Asian airport (Almaty, Astana/Nur Sultan and Bishkek spring to mind) then I would choose those over Tashkent for the time being.