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Is Miami's airport the best or the worst for holiday travel? Well, that depends

Passengers wait to go through TSA security at Miami International Airport's Checkpoint E on Sept. 10. Finance website NerdWallet, ranked Miami International Airport fifth among the best airports in the country for holiday travel, while an analysis by AirHelp, a start-up legal service for air travelers, ranked MIA No. 7 among the worst airports for Thanksgiving flight delays.
Passengers wait to go through TSA security at Miami International Airport's Checkpoint E on Sept. 10. Finance website NerdWallet, ranked Miami International Airport fifth among the best airports in the country for holiday travel, while an analysis by AirHelp, a start-up legal service for air travelers, ranked MIA No. 7 among the worst airports for Thanksgiving flight delays. mhalper@miamiherald.com

Miami International Airport is either among the best or the worst airports for holiday travel, depending on who you ask.

If the question is directed at finance website NerdWallet, MIA ranked fifth among the best airports in the country for holiday travel, according to a report released Wednesday that analyzed November and December cancellation data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics between 2013 to 2015, as well as stats on delays and — somewhat oddly — places to eat.

But a similar report from AirHelp, a start-up legal service for air travelers, released Tuesday claimed MIA is No. 7 among the worst airports for Thanksgiving flight delays. It analyzed travel disruptions during Thanksgiving week from 2012 to 2015.

The NerdWallet study found that 11.1 percent of flights at MIA were delayed more than 30 minutes, while just 1.7 percent were delayed more than two hours. The number of flights in the period studied that were canceled: Just over half of 1 percent, compared to the average rate (1.24 percent) at the 50 U.S. airports analyzed.

Airport restaurants, where travelers would arguably spend less time if there were few flight delays, scored an average of 4.2 stars, out of five, on Yelp. The airport came in behind Honolulu International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Finance website NerdWallet, ranked Miami International Airport fifth among the best airports in the country for holiday travel, while an analysis by AirHelp, a start-up legal service for air travelers, ranked MIA No. 7 among the worst airports for Thanksgiving flight delays.

AirHelp based its judgment on a proprietary database, which aggregates data from airports, flight-trackers and government agencies including the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, of all the individual flight disruptions worldwide in the period surveyed. AirHelp spokeswoman Cecilia Minges said the system helps Airhelp “maintain an accurate, real-time picture of flight disruption occurring across the globe, the circumstances surrounding these disruptions and the likelihood of further disruptions occurring.”

According to AirHelp, on average, 16.3 percent of flights at MIA during the week of Thanksgiving between 2012 and 2015 were delayed. Only six airports, among the 30 with the highest passenger traffic, did worse: Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles International Airport.

Most of the gripes around airport delays around the country this year have been about long lines for security processing during the summer.

MIA spokesman Greg Chin said the airport hired “dozens” of additional TSA officers since the summer travel season began, with a TSA checkpoint now dedicated exclusively to TSA Pre✓ passengers, a program that allows passengers to circumvent some security line protocols, plus a new TSA checkpoint for peak travel hours. As of August, the most recent statistics the airport had available, 99 percent of all MIA passengers made their way through security checkpoints in less than 20 minutes. More than three quarters of passengers finished passed security in 10 minutes or less.

Arrivals at Miami International Airport during fiscal year 2015/2016 were 4.8 percent higher than the previous year, at 22.8 million, making it the 10th busiest airport in total passenger traffic in the country. Earlier this year, MIA ranked 19th in the world and 10th best in the U.S. on the Official Airline Guide’s 2015 list of the top 20 on-time airports in the world.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

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