5. Ninoy Aquino International, Manila, Philippines
Beleaguered by ground crew strikes, unkempt conditions, soup kitchen-style lines that feed into more lines and an overall sense of futility, NAIA brings the term “Stuck in the 1970s” to a new level.
At Terminal 1 all non-Philippine Airlines remain crammed despite serious overcapacity issues and a new and underused Terminal 3 is occupied by a few minor carriers.
A rash of bad press this year (including a “Worst in the World” ribbon from Sleeping in Airports) was capped by a collapsed ceiling in T1, a paralyzing ground service strike at T2, and the usual charges of tampered luggage, filthy restrooms, seat shortages at gates, re-sealed water bottles sold in retail shops and an Amazing Race-style check-in routine spiked with bureaucracy, broken escalators, lengthy Dot Matrix passenger lists and creative airport departure fees.
Read more on CNNGo: World's busiest airports announced
4. Toncontín International, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
When do the most common airport gripes about inefficiency, uncomfortable gate chairs, dirty floors and lousy dining options suddenly become irrelevant? When you’re preoccupied about whether your 757 will actually be able to stop before the runway does.
Nestled in a bowl-shaped valley at 957 meters above sea level, Toncontín’s notoriously stubby, mountain-cloaked landing strip was recently lengthened another 300 meters following a fatal TACA aircraft overshoot in 2008.
Not enough though to avoid being named the “second most dangerous airport in the world” by the History Channel.
Nepal’s hair-raising Tenzing-Hillary Airport in the Himalayas is the top seed, but receives fewer gripes from its thrill-seeking Everest-bound clientele.
Read more on CNNGo: Shanghai Pudong International Airport: Fifth best in the world
3. London Heathrow, London, England
Depending on which of Heathrow’s five terminals one is funneled through, the average experience at the world’s third-busiest airport ranges from mildly tedious to "Fawlty Towers" ridiculous.
With its rash of -- as they were politely called -- “teething problems” in bright and airy T5 (remember that riotous grand opening with 34 canceled flights?) and nicely matured problems in Ts 1, 2 and 3, the issues passengers are beset with run the gamut.
Parking messes. Busted baggage carousels. Deadlocked security lines. Long walks (or, more commonly, runs) between gates to a frenzied soundtrack of “last call” announcements. Realizations that getting out of Heathrow took longer than actually flying here from Madrid.
In the airport “where the world changes planes,” it all boils down to a chronic inability to cope with this many people. Plans for a sixth terminal should help sever even more nerves.
2. Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, United States
If the world’s seventh-busiest flight hub was an old ballpark resting on the stale reputation of its Dodger Dogs and that great 1959 series, LAX might have some endearment value.
But it’s an airport -- a dramatically undersized and moribund one with the architectural élan of a 1960s correctional facility and several publicized concerns about how its 1,700 takeoffs and landings a day can be sustained in a facility a fifth the size of healthier cousins like Dallas/Fort Worth.
The unsupportive donut-shaped design -- it’s been called “eight terminals connected by a traffic jam” -- makes dashing between airlines feel like a diesel-scented cardio test.
Plunked in the middle is the airport’s landmark Jetsons-style restaurant and only mentionable amenity, Encounter, but how does one actually get inside this place -- at least before being nailed for a petty traffic violation by some of the most ticket-hungry airport cops west of the Mississippi?
Read more on CNNGo: World's most terrifying airports
1. Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France
“A great country worthy of the name,” President Charles de Gaulle once opined, “does not have any friends.”
True or not, it’s this sort of attitude that has helped CDG become the most maligned major airport on earth. What’s fueling it?
Grimy washrooms with missing toilet seats don’t help. Nor do broken scanning machines and an overall lack of signage, gate information screens and Paris-worthy bars, restaurants or cafés.
The baffling circular layout is worsened by warrens of tunnel-like structures, dismissive staff and seething travelers waiting forever in the wrong queue.
The worst part may be this airport’s aura of indifference to it all. “Waiting for a connection here,” notes one commuter, “is like being in custody.”
If you’re actually staying in Paris, you may be okay. If you have the gall to just be passing through between Malaga and Montreal, you can cut the spite of this place with a cheese knife.