When does Budapest Airport join the Schengen zone?
At Budapest Airport, like all affected airports in the region, the Schengen era will commence on 30 March, the day of the introduction of the summer schedule.What does this mean in practical terms?
As of 30 March, passengers commuting within the Schengen zone will not have to undergo border control procedures. The passport control booths will be demolished at terminal 2A to create more space. Non-Schengen passengers will still have to undergo border control procedures.
Does it mean that I can leave my passport at home?
No. At the airports airlines may check the identity of passengers at check-in and boarding. Authorities can also ask for personal documents both in Hungary and abroad. Thus, passengers should never set off without photo ID (an identity card or passport).
Will Schengen accession make procedures a lot faster at Budapest Airport?
Unfortunately it is not necessary the case. The passengers within the Schengen zone will save some minutes thanks to the lack of passport control, but due to the physical circumstances of Terminal 2 passengers will have to spend about 30-40 minutes on the check-in and security screening procedures. In the same time Budapest Airport started a 65 billion-forints development program in 2007 that will make the gateway one of the most comfortable airports in Europe.
There will no longer be baggage and passenger screening either?
Schengen accession does not affect the strict baggage and passenger security screenings in place at Budapest Airport, since the aim of these is to ensure and maintain the safety and security of aviation. Thus, passenger and baggage security screening will remain in place for Schengen passengers as well.
Will there be any changes to aircraft traffic?
Yes. At Budapest Airport, Terminal 2A will serve Schengen and 2B non-Schengen traffic. Aircraft arriving from the Schengen zone will automatically be directed to Terminal 2A, while aircraft from outside the zone will get a stand at 2B. The change will happen overnight. The changes will probably impact Malév the most, since the airline operates several flights both to the Schengen and non-Schengen zones, so it will use both Terminal 2A and 2B going forward.
What about Terminal 1?
Terminal 1, reserved for low-cost traffic, will handle both Schengen and non-Schengen passengers. The security screening will take place at the same place for everyone, but passengers departing to destinations outside the zone will have to undergo passport control to enter the transit area where they can await boarding. The transit area will be divided by a glass wall to separate Schengen and non-Schengen traffic.
What can passengers traveling outside the Schengen zone expect?
At Terminal 2B, passengers can expect to undergo rigorous border controls, in line with Schengen norms. The rigor is well justified: those who are granted admission to the country can move freely within the entire Schengen zone, from Lisbon to Záhony in Eastern Hungary.
What does the EU have to do with the Schengen zone? Those who commute within the EU are necessarily Schengen passengers?
No. The situation is a bit more complicated than that. There are EU countries that also joined the Schengen zone, like Hungary. But there are also EU member states that did not sign the agreement, Great-Britain and Ireland being good examples. The third group is countries that are not in the EU but are members of the Schengen zone, such as Norway and Iceland.
Does the airport require further reconstruction due to Schengen accession?
Not really, because Terminal 2 has been ready for Schengen accession since June 2007. That is when the transfer corridor linking Terminals 2A and 2B was completed. This corridor can be used by transfer passengers arriving from the Schengen zone who wish to reach a non-Schengen destination, or would like to travel to a Schengen country via Budapest. Impending Schengen accession was also taken into account During the reconstruction of Terminal 1 in 2005.
The following countries are members of the Schengen zone: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.