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The best and worst airlines and airports for holiday travel

  • Fifty-one million passengers are expected to fly between Friday, Dec. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 4.
  • To avoid the long lines (and frayed nerves) that go hand in hand with heading home for the holidays, here are the best and the worst airports, airlines and days to travel over the peak period, according to Elite Fixtures.
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Most holiday travelers assume getting to and from their destinations will be a nightmare around the peak winter season, but that largely depends on where you are.

Elite Fixtures rounded up the best — and the worst — airports, airlines and days to travel (based the highest percentage of delays and cancellations as well as the average delay time) ahead of the December holidays.

Travelers are most likely to get stuck in Houston but experience smooth sailing in Honolulu, the electric supply and home decor company found, based on five years of data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (Click on all graphics to enlarge).

Hawaiian Airlines also scored high marks for holiday travel, a time when airlines are traditionally at their busiest. Southwest Airlines fared the worst, with nearly 40 percent of the airline's flights delayed over Christmas. Southwest declined to comment.

A whopping 51 million passengers are expected to fly U.S. airlines between Friday, Dec. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 4, up 3.5 percent from last year, according to Airlines for America, an industry group that chalks up the forecast to low fares and a strong economy.

To avoid the long lines (and frayed nerves) that go hand in hand with heading home for the holidays, the best days to travel include Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, Elite Fixtures said, while the worst days were immediately before and after the Christmas holiday (you can also save a lot of dough by avoiding those peak travel days).