Üdvözöljük a repülőtéren!
Ferihegyi nemzetközi repülőtér (Ferihegy International Airport),
usually just Ferihegy
(pronounced something along the lines of Ferry-hedge), is the
international airport of Budapest, Hungary and the hub of
the Hungarian national carrier Malév. It has two terminals a few
kilometers apart, imaginatively entitled "Terminal 1" and "Terminal 2",
but since all
international flights now use Terminal 2 and there are no scheduled
national flights, you are unlikely to ever see Terminal 1. This is
a Good Thing, since Terminal 1 (opened May 7, 1950) was built by
the Soviets and looks like it, while Terminal 2
(dated November 1, 1985)
is spacious, well-lit, squeaky clean and in all entirely
indistinguishable from a modern Western airport (which was, of course,
the entire point of building it). Even passport control is
already optimistically split into EU and non-EU queues.
Terminal 2 is further split into terminal 2A, used exclusively by
Malév, and 2B, used by everybody else, but this distinction is
largely theoretical since the terminals are in the same building and
about 5 mins on foot from each other.
Given the fact that it services not only the two million inhabitants
of Budapest but the entire country of 10 million as well, Ferihegy
feels simultaneously small and underutilized. (These are not
adjectives one would use to describe, say, Budapest Keleti
train station.) Terminals 2A and 2B are the ends of a single (long)
virtually clones of each other,
with the same tax-free shops and Sbarro restaurant in both, and just
a small smattering of specialty shops and various executive lounges
to differentiate them. The shop selections are poor and prices are
for the city itself, but you can
find the requisite Unicum liquor, Tokaji wines, and canned
goose liver if you require last-minute souvenirs.
One welcome amenity for the computing traveler is that
electric sockets are abundant, a fact directly responsible for the
existence of this node. It's 8 PM on a Thursday a mere 4 days before
Christmas as I write this and the place is deserted, sitting near
in the middle of Terminal 2A I can count the number of fellow passengers
I see on my fingers and I can clearly hear a kid humming "...and
bring us a figgy pudding..." at the other end of the terminal.
Then again, I suppose this is far preferable to all-too-usual
The second most striking thing in Ferihegy is a seriously psychedelic
of art suspended from the ceiling of Terminal 2A. A painting
on a rotating drum
surrounded by rotating prisms, the rotation and diffraction make the
design ripple and even cause (simulated) interference patterns to
appear for some of the geometric designs. Prolonged staring is both
necessary to figure out how it works and liable to result in a severe
Getting There (aside from "on an airplane", that is)
The best way of getting to and from airport is to take
the Airport Minibus, a "shared taxi"-type operation that rounds up
passangers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere
in Budapest for a flat fee of about 5 euros (1600 forint at
time of writing, but inflation is high). Join the
queue at the airport and you'll be on your way in 15 minutes; for the
trip back, call the center (pref. with 24h advance notice) and they'll
be there to pick you up.
The other common option is to take the Centrum Bus, which runs every
half hour and, for 600 forints, will
take you to central Erzsébét tér and let you fend your way from there.
Or you could
save a few more pengö and take bus 93 (again, at time of writing)
to Kőbanya-Kispest, from where you can continue on to central Pest
with the blue metro for a total cost of 180 forints.
You probably do not want to take a normal taxi, as the time savings
over the Airport Minibus are minimal and not only is the official fare
close to 5000 Ft, but the odds of getting shafted
are pretty high (although the Budapest taxi racket seems to have been
cleaned up quite a bit as of late).
As the airport is quite new and obviously operating well under capacity,
there are no major changes in the works. There are plans to extend
one of the HÉV light rails all the way to the airport and evidently
there is even construction under way to accomplish this, but given
the financing difficulties of Budapest's subway much-delayed Line 4
I would not
recommend holding your breath in anticipation.
This writeup has been brought to you by Bored Out of My Skull