December 11th, 2012

That Giant Dead Fat Lady Isn’t the Saddest Thing at the Airport in Hungary These Days

Just as we were about to return to “service” last week, several eager readers wrote in to tip us off about a big story in the international press about a Hungarian-American woman who died in Budapest because the airlines wouldn’t fly her home to New York because she was too fat. Since the story had already made it around the world by the time we got back we didn’t bother with it. Also, we had enough other airport-related sad news. Consider:

  • For most of last Friday, Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc (formerly Ferihegy) Airport was totally closed to incoming and outgoing flights because of a fire in the control tower, stranding hundreds of travelers in Budapest and forcing numerous arriving planes to scramble to airports in other cities. At least one had to land without help from the tower, as it was running out of fuel.
  • A week earlier, a dozen airlines lodged a formal complaint with the airport operator about the sky-high fees they are charged to land in Budapest. The airlines’ joint warning came just a week after leading discount carrier RyanAir said they would radically cut back their flights to and from Hungary, because of the high costs. The airport pointed out that it was also really sad, since it had been unexpectedly hit by a 330% increase in its land tax and the collapse of former Hungarian state airline Malév last year. It also wanted everyone to know that it has just won a big international award for excellence in marketing to airlines of the sort that are now writing it letters saying how sad they are, including Air France-KLM, which, along with Delta, is being sued by the sad husband of the fat dead lady for not letting her on the plane.
  • The airport’s historic Terminal 1, which was opened a few years back to service low-cost carriers like RyanAir but then was closed in the spring after Malév died, recently reopened as an “events center,” meaning you can throw a party there. Yeah, didn’t think so.
  • Hungarian budget carrier Wizz Air said yesterday that it will add another plane to its Budapest-based fleet, bringing the total to seven. The airline, which is known for its arresting pink-and-purple livery, as well as a remarkably shitty on-time performance record, said it expects to “serve” 2.2 million passengers in Budapest next year, up from 1.8 million this year.
  • Perpetually-troubled Latvian discount carrier airBaltic announced yesterday that it will offer direct flights from Riga to the perpetually-troubled Hévíz-Balaton Airport, in a nice demonstration of why both are struggling. And in related sad news, airBaltic – which went bankrupt last year and was taken over by the Latvian state, becoming the world’s first state-owned budget airline – is currently being run by a former CEO of Malév. No kidding.
  • Finally, speaking of former Malév employees, reader A.Z. alerts us to the fact that the people hoping to build a successor to Hungary’s crashed flag carrier have actually put up a website for their venture, called Hungarian World Airways. In addition to some wince-making Hunglish – “visitors to the country for our passengers are to ensure the necessary conditions for a pleasant stay in a well-trained, helpful staff dedicated to” – the site actually includes a “fleet” page with crudely-photoshopped renderings of its logos on some planes it doesn’t yet have. Not sad enough for you? The how about this: The email address listed for company chairman Laszlo I. Csiky on the site’s contact page is
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