I should start off by saying that this is a ridiculous claim. I haven't been to every airport in the world, so I can't presume to know that this one is, in fact, the worst. But this not-so-prestigious honor can be reduced to a matter of opinion anyhow, can't it? So, let's just say that it's the most hated airport from my perspective, at this time in my life. And I've been to some pretty "dodgy" airports in my time.
I'm talking about Cancun International 'Fucking' Airport (CUN). Be prepared to hate your life for roughly four hours, give or take. Chaos itself couldn't create a more twisted, screwed up, disorganized mess of a situation. If you fly here without being mentally prepared, you'll walk out of the airport like you just lost a hard-fought battle to diarrhea... while standing in line at Disney all day.
My first experience was four years ago. To be honest, I don't remember much about it. I can only conclude that the experience has been repressed into the deepest chasms of the memory section of my brain. My first experience this year was so frustrating, I could have punted a kitten. And in my attempts to learn from that experience, I discovered that there is actually a hell. And it's called Cancun International 'I Hate My Life' Airport.
In my first experience, on March 10th of 2015, I departed my JetBlue flight via the "Sky Stairs," which is a nicer way of saying, Despite the billions of dollars in drug money that was pumped into the lightning-fast erection of the city, we were too cheap and/or too narrow-sighted to design an airport with jetways, much less a funneling system with the slightest amount of insight to resemble anything that could be referred to as "efficient." I don't mind walking the stairs, personally- it sort of makes me feel like someone famous- like the President, or Sir Paul McCartney. But that feeling is lost as quickly as you spot "the snake" located outside of the airport, aka The Line to Hell.
Ok, so there's a line. Big fucking deal, you say. And I respond, Must you swear so much? Think about the children. But you don't listen, because you haven't yet experienced Cancun International 'I Should Have Brought Some Rope' Airport, where you lose even the desire express yourself in words upon leaving. This is no ordinary line I'm talking about here. Remember that incident a few years back where people were literally trampled to death at the entrance of Walmart on Black Friday? Can you imagine the pure insanity that line must have featured? Surely you've seen some video clips of the madness that Wall Street is famous for. The word "line" can no longer be used- the scene doesn't qualify for the inherent orderly characteristics that word represents. People literally started mooing.
Have you ever come to a dead-stop while driving on the highway, for some reason unknown, with no knowledge or indication of when that situation will improve? And if you're on the shorter side of average in height department, it will feel like you're also stuck behind a Mack truck. Have you ever had to use the bathroom while stuck in that situation? The terrifying "Oh no, not now" thoughts that enter your mind only make the situation increasingly desperate, as you're involuntarily forced into a mental battle with only two possible outcomes- anxiety or tragedy. Welcome to Cancun International 'Does Anyone Have Some Rat Poison I Can Borrow' Airport.
Two hours later, I made it through immigration and into the absolute cluster-f*cK they accidentally named "Baggage Claim." If you thought the "line" to immigration was a nightmare, this one will pitch you into a fit of hysterical laughter and/or crying, while you contemplate how much of a heartless asshole you must have been in your previous life to endure such wrathful punishment. I reserve the word "hate" for the likes of people who cut others in long lines, but I'll admit, on this day I gladly nominated myself amongst the hated and committed this crime with the same self-justifying righteousness that I would normally shake my head at.
Perhaps this would have saved me an hour or so, but eventually, even the Customs officers realized that the situation was growing increasingly hopeless, as the number of human beings that were herded into the airport was expanding at a rate faster than the rate of those being admitted into the subsequent obstacle course (actual Mexico). Customs literally said, Fuck it, gave up, and just opened the flood gates. At this point, I didn't know whether to break into dance or huddle into a corner somewhere and rock myself into a fetal state of complete mental introversion.
Fast forward three or four months. After a short trip to the U.S., I was determined to return and drastically reduce my time getting through The Labyrinth. I packed only enough to fit into a carry-on bag so that I could hopefully avoid "Baggage Claim" at the least. But this time at Cancun International 'Box of Chocolates' Airport, a new set of surprises awaited me. After a wait that felt long enough to outlast the birth and death of a star system, I made it to the immigration officer, who decided my desire to stay in Mexico longer than a week was all-too-suspicious. "Come with me," he said after a series of skeptical questions.
He led me into "Airport Jail" as I now refer to it- a room of other "suspicious" people, where you trade judgmental glances and What happened to you? stories. There was a girl stifling her tears, an ornately-dressed Colombian man next to her, a French hipster, an older Mexican woman endlessly muttering words in Spanish about how inconvenienced she was, and a Cuban family that included two girls about my age and a Scarface-looking father who was hacking so much, I thought he might lose a lung right there.
An Immigrations officer entered every 20 minutes or so to summon someone for the questioning, as I observed the other officers pulling whatever international history they could muster from our passports, and taking their time to shoot the shit with other airport employees at their leisure. Meanwhile, the Colombian and the Frenchman were told that they were being deported back to their respective countries because they didn't have a return flight out of Mexico (something I didn't possess either). I spent my time coming to terms with the fact that I would probably be deported as well. Eventually, it was my turn. And after three rounds of interrogation in broken Spanish, four hours, and at least 50 questions, I was escorted without explanation back to the gauntlet of Immigrations officers, where I was reluctantly given a loud and forceful stamp of the passport and a begrudging, "Welcome to Mexico."
I sarcastically thanked him and made my way to Customs. By some miracle, they must have already opened the flood gates this time, and before long, it was my turn to press The Button of Fate. A surprising green light granted me access to the outside world where I received conflicting directions from five different airport staff to make my way to the inconveniently located bus terminal, where they don't accept credit/debit cards. By the way, the only working ATM was located on the opposite side of the airport. Eventually, I found myself back in Playa del Carmen, where a beer and a bed never sounded so enticing.
I dread the day I have to return to Cancun International 'Murder Me' Airport. There may be worse out there, but in my humble opinion, this is The Worst Airport in the World. What's your least favorite airport? Let's talk about it. Vent below.