Luggage poaching at Budapest Airport

I had hoped that I wouldn’t need to write any more stories about the Budapest Airport but the latest news from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport are disturbing.

After arriving to the Budapest Airport a couple of years ago, I noticed a large muscled man grabbing our suitcases from the carousel. He packed them onto a cart and was quickly heading out a side door. I ran after him explaining in my best colloquial Hungarian that those were mine. I was able to recover the bags, and the large man didn’t say much. It seemed that he was an employee of the airport; at least he had an official-looking badge around his neck.

Later I learned that the Budapest Airport has a so called „porter service” that can be hired by tour-groups and individuals. People associated with this mysterious „service” are authorized to grab luggage and when mistakes are made, it may take hours to recover the misplaced bags. Since my strange experience I always run to the carousel and watch the arriving luggage like a hawk.

In January we were in Hungary and heard rumors about luggage disappearing at Budapest Airport. Every airport has lost or misplaced items so I didn’t think it was anything to write about.

Then on January 19, the Korean Embassy in Budapest issued a statement on Facebook that valuables of Korean visitors had disappeared from their bags at the airport. It is suspected that arriving luggage was opened before being placed on the carousel. It turns out that the Koreans were not alone; other passengers have experienced the same problem. (Read report here in Hungarian.)

Last year travelers found human blood spots inside their luggage; apparently the poacher cut his/her finger while going through the bags. Airport boss Mihály Hardy gave a lengthy interview trying to explain the situation. From his interview I learned a new Hungarian word, poggyászdézsmálás (luggage poaching). (Read Hardy’s interview here – Hungarian.)

Recently Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called on his spy agencies to probe the “Soros Empire,” and Hungarian authorities are focusing on investigating NGOs who criticize government policies. I’d suggest instead that they focus their efforts on stopping unacceptable luggage poaching at the Budapest Airport.

This would improve Hungary’s image abroad.

György Lázár


  1. Thanks for the heads up. My step-daughter and her children are traveling here in May. I’ve forwarded this to her (she is Hungarian).

  2. If this is happening at the Budapest airport, it is indeed terrible and something needs to be done about it.

    Having said that, given the mess with US intelligence agencies, apparently involved in political interference, it is rich to be pointing fingers at Hungary directing its secret service to monitor foreign interference in its politics through NGOs. Hungary has the right to reject foreign interference in its politics, as much as the US does, does it not?

  3. Andras B. Gollner says:

    Perhaps the large man running away with Mr. Lázár’s luggage was Mr. Lőrinc Mészáros himself, the former pipe fitter, who is now the richest man in Hungary, and is holding the bag for the Hungarian Autocrat, Viktor Orbán. The rampant looting of airport baggage at Hungary’s national airport is a microcosm, of the rampant looting of Hungary’s national economy, by Orbán’s goons and cronies. According to the EU’s internal audits, Hungary is the place where the abuse and theft of EU funds is most rampant. Now there is a record the two trolls that frequent these pages – “Bendy-goose” and “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” – can be proud of. 🙂

    • Poor Andy!
      Must feel very frustrated keeping an eye on the old country!
      Peter (not the Pumpkin Eater)
      PS: You could do better than using Soros-inspired insinuations and fake news (vis: ‘EU’ s internal audits… )

  4. Yes, I had $600 worth of perfume I bought for Christmas from the duty free in London stolen out of my luggage in Budapest. No help from anyone to recover the items and never reimbursed. Now I know why people Saran Wrap their luggage there more than I ever seen anywhere!

  5. StrandedinSopron says:

    “No help from anyone to recover the items and never reimbursed.”

    I think this is the crux of the problem (which, obviously, does exist at other airports).

    The airport authority knows of the problem and probably can make a very good guess at the criminals involved- yet they do nothing, why not?

    Well, for the same reason the various mafias “rob” innocent tourists from the same District 5 restaurants and bars year after year without the local government raising a finger. The authorities at the airport, or at least elements in the management are being paid off to “ignore”/ “deny” the problem.

  6. György Lázár says:

    Dear Liz, according to a recent TV report expensive perfume is one of the popular items stolen from bags at Budapest Airport. Watch here…

  7. What happened to me wasn’t at Budapest Airport but with LATAM airline, eather Chilean Airport or Uruguayan Airport they have stolen my belongings from my luggage that were lost for 14 days…NO RESPONSE FROM THE AIRLINE. I WANT TO MAKE EVERYONE AWARE OF THIS AIRLINE. I WILL FIGHT FOR REIMBURSED of item stolen pain and suffering until the day I die.

  8. “The airport authority knows of the problem and probably can make a very good guess at the criminals involved- yet they do nothing, why not?”

    Foreigners don’t have votes, but people working at the airport probably do?

  9. bunnylikesbeaver says:

    christ, when I first arrived in Budapest in the year 2000 this was an issue then. Is it still going on? The responsible management should be sacked immediately, and there should be a thorough police investigation. Any ideas why this has not happened yet? 😉

  10. I’m a yearly visitor and have lost nothing from my luggage. No, the visitors do not vote, but they bring and spend money. Airport theft makes visitors cautious and there are other lovely places to enjoy. Budapest boasts a safe environment for visitors (except for Vaci ut bars) but this is quite bad publicity.

    • I’ve never had anything stolen from my airport luggage either, but with all the security cameras at airports these days, it makes you wonder why they are unable to stop this happening? I agree it’s bad publicity and very neglectful by the airport

  11. Looks like it’s not just foreigners who have their luggage tampered with:

    Hungary’s leading tennis player, who recently won her first Grand Slam (women’s doubles at the Australian Open), says: “By the time I arrived in Doha, my case was open. It had been broken and a few of my things had been stolen. And where do you think I flew from? Budapest… [] I hope they find the perpetrators in Budapest as soon as possible, because this is deplorable!!!”

  12. I visit annually and anytime I put anything other than clothes in my checked bag it is stolen. Even small things like a pen set, battery charger, sunglasses.

  13. And now they’ve arrested two suspects and found tennis star Babos Tímea’s jewelry:

  14. Katarina SERBIA says:

    I am one of those passengers whos baggage was robbed in January on Budapest airport. On 17th January, early in the morning, flight from BUD to Barcelona, Wizz Air could not carry on my hand luggage into the cabin and they took my only luggage on hold. Of course, baggage handlers knows that there should be some valuables in those bags as they were intended for cabin! I was between last passengers who entered the plane. It was still night, and it was raining. Aircraft took off 30 minutes after boarding was finished, enough time for thieves to open any bag they wanted to. My bag was robbed by some of workers from Malev Ground Handling company. I prefer not no say what is stolen from me, but its very serious and very huge damage 🙁 Of course, it is reported to the police department.

  15. We have flown into BP 34 times over the past 5 years and never had anything stolen. Waiting time for bags has gone up a lot in the past 8 months though

  16. Would be good to see the statistics for each airline. “Roaring20s” what airlines did/do you use? Since you have a history of good luck! Does Wizzair have more theft than Lufthansa?

  17. Andras B. Gollner says:

    Hi Peter Sándor ! Nice to see that you are keeping abreast. Visit us often, keep reading the HFP rather than consuming the usual government propaganda churned out by Hungary’s pro-government state media and those, run by Orbán’s cronies. It’s never to late to master the art of walking and chewing gum at the same time. I applaud your efforts Pete. You may kiss the girls and make them cry, but don’t cry for me Argentina. 🙂

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