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Avoid holiday travel headaches when flying

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NEW YORK, N.Y. -

Are you planning to fly the friendly skies this holiday travel season? If so, be prepared, more than million of your closest friends will be shuffling along beside you.

With a heavy load expected for some of the busiest airports in the country, NBC News did some digging to find out how you can avoid a holiday headache and reach your destination on time.

masFlight, an aviation data provider, crunched the numbers and came back with some very interesting and helpful data.

Joshua Marks says, "The best flights for performance tend to actually be the ones that are least expensive."

The data also shows that the earlier you leave, the more likely your flight will depart on time.

masFlight found that at 6 am, 88% of flights leave on time as the day goes on that percentage drops and by 9 pm, only 62% leave on time.

Since the weather is usually better in November, Thanksgiving travel usually runs more smoothly than Christmas.

Over the past 3 years, the airports with the most departure delays over Thanksgiving:

Newark with fewer than 79% of flights leaving on time.  

Followed by San Francisco, Laguardia, LAX, Chicago O'Hare, and Denver.

But over Christmas, Denver has the worst delays with just 61% leaving on time.   

Airports finishing behind Denver include big hub airports LAX, Newark, Dallas, Las Vegas and Chicago Midway.

Experts advise fly direct and avoid the snow!

Marks suggests, "If you're going to connect, your point is to make it a longer connection and a southern city?"

Another tip: when comparing airlines look at which airline is building in extra pad time to ensure you get there on time.

And if you can, avoid small, regional planes.  

The bigger the aircraft, the more passengers, the less likely flight will get canceled.

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