These Are the Best and Worst Cities for Long Layovers

passenger looking at timetable board

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passenger looking at timetable board
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Jet Lags

The holiday travel season is upon us, which means it doesn't hurt to be prepared for layovers, bad weather, and crowds. So what cities are the best  — and the worst — to be stuck in if you're dealing with a travel delay? The site Lawn Love ranked 128 cities to determine the best and worst cities for long layovers. They looked at each city's average departure delay times, as well as amount of delayed and canceled flights. They also weighed which cities are easy to reach from the airport and what the cities offer for fun that isn't too expensive. The best cities had plenty to do if you get stuck, while the worst cities may not have many delays, but also not much to do. Here are the five best and five worst. 

Related: Where to Find a Good Meal at Every Major U.S. Airport

New York City Skyline Airplane
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Best: New York

Score: 76.10

New York is the winner when it comes to having the most airport lounges, most local attractions — and one of the highest delay rates. In fact, New York comes in 5th place for the longest average departure delay (first place goes to Medford, Oregon). The good news is, since you're likely to get stuck in the airport here, there's plenty to do, whether you leave the airport or not. For instance, get a day pass to the world's largest hotel gym on site at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport to work out your delay annoyance.  

Related: Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed: What Can You Do?

Chicago Skyline aerial view
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Best: Chicago

Score: 60.69

Chicago scored for having the most delayed departures and the third-highest share of canceled flights. But like New York, there's a lot to do if you get stuck for a long time. You can take the CTA Blue Line train straight from the airport to explore the city, or if you need to sleep over, the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel is right there. From Midway Airport, the Orange Line train will get you downtown in less than 30 minutes if have you have a hankering to see "The Bean" or stroll Michigan Avenue.  

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Palm Tree-Lined Street Overlooking Los Angeles at Sunset
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Best: Los Angeles

Score: 53.34

Los Angeles ranks for having the second highest amount of airport lounges to relax in if you have a long wait. The airport also comes in second place for the most local attractions. For example, Manhattan Beach is just a short distance from the airport if you are looking for some sea and sun while you pass the time. 

Related: The Best of California for Budget Vacations

Houston Downtown
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Best: Houston

Score: 51.91

Houston comes in third place in the "staying and eating" category, which measures the amount of airport lounges, restaurants, and accommodations. The city ranked in ninth place for the "getting around" category, which refers to the distance to the city center, transportation, and walkability.

Miami, Florida, USA
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Best: Miami

Score: 49.45

Miami ranked sixth place for both things to do, and staying and eating. It also ties for fifth place (with Washington, D.C.) for the highest walkability score. Miami is 98th on the list of cities when it comes to cancellations, so there's less of a chance of getting stuck here.

Hilo Coconut Island
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Worst: Hilo, Hawaii

Score: 13.13

This small Hawaiian airport's "worst" score actually means that it has the shortest average departure delay of all the airports surveyed, making it a winner. The issue is that it's in 110th place for staying and eating — so if you're stuck here, there aren't many airport amenities. In general, Lawn Love found that cities in Hawaii have the lowest rates of cancellations and delays.  

Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

Lanikai Beach
segawa7 / istockphoto

Worst: Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Score: 17.60

Again, you're pretty unlikely to encounter a long layover at this small airport, as it ranks third for the lowest number of canceled departures. Perhaps because of this, there's not that much to do at the actual airport itself. It's No. 28 on the list for that category.

Maui beach
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Worst: Kahului, Hawaii

Score: 19.31

Again, "worst" is a bit of a misnomer. It means Kahului's airport is third least likely to have long delays or layovers. However, because these Hawaiian airports rarely experience delays and are small, there are fewer available activities or reasonably-priced last minute hotel accommodations. Kahului ranks 124th place for airport affordability.

Anchorage at sunset
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Worst: Anchorage, Alaska

Score: 20.97

This city has the fifth shortest average departure delay so chances are you won't be sitting around much here. If you happen to get stuck, it's a fairly fast trip downtown to see the Anchorage Museum.

Fairbanks, Alaska
Jacob Boomsma / istockphoto

Worst: Fairbanks, Alaska

Score: 22.17

This small airport comes in at No. 102 for the getting around ranking and 60th for the things to do at airport ranking. University of Alaska’s Museum of the North is a short drive from Fairbanks International Airport if you do get stuck, so as long as you can get over there, it's an activity that can kill a few hours.