Not Welcome in Budapest: The disabled get a raw deal from Hungary

Entrance to Budapest's ultra modern airport

Entrance to Budapest’s ultra modern airport

One of the worst incidents in the Second World War in Budapest was when Hungarian Fascists stormed the Jewish hospital in 1944 and butchered to death all its sick and disabled patients, and doctors and nurses. It is chronicled  in the excellent Jewish Museum in the City.

While I would not say modern Hungarians are as brutal towards disabled people now, their attitude was still described as ” being in the Middle Ages” by the manager of the Jewish Museum.It shows in a  lack of regard to help even if facilities are provided.

The most outrageous example is the country’s national airport outside Budapest. As you can see it is a modern airport. All airports I have used since my wife had a stroke and lost her mobility provide a decent and efficient service.

But Budapest Airport was different. Like all international airports it has a help line at its entrance but in this case it was worse than useless. When I contacted the people for a wheelchair they said they would assist but only when the person had checked in at the British Airways desk. when I pointed out that this was not normal practice, they said it was standard practice at the airport.

I complained to the Viking River Cruises rep ( we were coming to an end to a very well organised Viking cruise down the Danube from Nuremburg) she was little better. She said it was also the airport’s policy and she could do nothing about it. She then said she had to meet another coach party and left. When I pointed out that this made it very difficult for the disabled to use the airport and wouldn’t want to visit Hungary she suggested they came by train.

We then had to queue up for 30 minutes to get to the check out and if ti had not been for the help of two other kind people on the Viking trip, Polly and Russell Dymock, I would have had to leave my wife stranded. As it was I was able to go away and purloin a chair from  a cafe so at least Margaret could sit down in the queue.

When we got to the check out they did summon assistance but we still had to walk across the airport to some designed seats for  disabled people – which were being used by able bodied people at the time. the airport has hardly any seats. If my wife had not been recovering her mobility – so she can walk short distances I don’t know what we would have done.

Budapest airport concourse - npote the lack of seats and how far you walk to  check in.

Budapest airport concourse – note the lack of seats and how far you walk to check in.

We also had a bad experience during our visit to the Great Jewish Synagogue in Budapest which does have a disabled toilet. But unfortunately the two women attendants were occupying it as their own rest room and had blocked the entrance with a mop. When I remonstrated about this they just laughed and obviously thought disabled people were joke figures. We complained to the manager of the synagogue and found that this had happened before. She admitted that in general Hungary was living in the Middle Ages in its attitude towards disabled people – and promised the two would be disciplined about it.

We managed to use trams and buses in the city – believe it not, Mr Farage,because Hungary is in the EU , all pensioners from EU countries can travel free on them – and people gave up their seats for her when they saw she was in difficulty.

Frankly it is time Budapest was forced to change its attitude – and the airport to change its policy. Hungary relies on tourism to boost its economy – and big tour operators like Viking could put pressure on the authorities to do so. They should do so They have the clout and should use it. Disabled people deserve dignity and help wherever they are.

3 thoughts on “Not Welcome in Budapest: The disabled get a raw deal from Hungary

  1. So sorry about your treatment in Budapest. We have an apartment ground floor in central Budapest (not far from Jewish Quarter. I think that there is something pathological about the Hungarian Society especially if you are Romany , Black. The younger Hungarians are more open minded. Any way our brochure may be of interest

    Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:46:12 +0000 To: claredebenham@hotmail.co.uk

  2. I too went through Budapest airport last year. My experience was not much better.

    On the outward journey, their wheelchair handlers collected me from the plane, but they only wheeled me as far as the terminal doors. So I was left in the waiting area (whilst the rest of our group gathered) and my husband had to hastily unpack my Travelscoot, and I then used it to get to the bus parked outside the terminal.

    The home bound journey was similar. I used my scoot to get up to the check in desk. And then was directed to seating (some distance away indeed) to await the wheelchair. There was huge confusion over where the battery for my scoot was to travel, which caused considerable delay and involved my husband having to pack and repack the Travelscoot several times as they kept changing their minds.

    Once sorted however the wheelchair handlers were cheerful and efficient. However, I don’t think I could have managed without my own wheels at all.

    To be honest, Dublin airport wasn’t much better. We took the bus from the carpark to the terminal, and I was left for some considerable time outside sitting on our luggage whilst hubby searched (and pleaded) for the assistance. It was after that experience, that we decided to unpack the scoot for each transfer between bus and terminal!

    I should however give Belfast International a shout out here, because they promptly sent a wheelchair right out to meet the buses on arrival, and the same for my return. Altogether a much more stress free experience.

  3. Meanwhile, back in England, just in my home town (a small market town) I have noticed in the last few years an increase in what are, frankly, hate-incidents directed towards all kinds of disabled people. This is because, equally frankly, the perpetrators are allowed to get away with such actions, which emboldens them to repeat them.

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