Thursday, May 2, 2013

McCarran International Airport: Las Vegas' Main Airport

If you have ever flown in or out of Las Vegas then you most likely went through McCarran International Airport. The airport was named after former Nevada senator Pat McCarran. It now has 4 runways and is one of the top 25 most popular airports in the world in terms of people coming in and out of the airport. Since the airport is in Las Vegas, it is only fitting that the airport has slot machines for people to gamble when they first arrive in town or when they are waiting for their plane to go home, and McCarran Airport has over 1,000 of them. Originally the Las Vegas Airport was on the sight of what is now Nellis Airforce Base. In 1942 George Crockett built what was known as Alamo Airport on the site that is now McCarran Airport. Then it was bought by the county in 1948 and the airport was renamed to McCarran Field. Since then the airport has undergone many changes and remodels to become what it is today. It went from a small little airport in the 40’s to a huge multi-terminal international airport that it is today. In 1957 there were an average of 10,000 departures per year and now has over 500,000 takeoffs and departures each year. The airport also handles other types of flights beside just passenger flights. McCarran Airport handles over 200 million pounds of cargo per year. Military and government aircraft also use McCarran, making it the 8th in the world for most aircraft movements.

Nowadays, McCarran has many high tech amenities such as free wireless internet access for passengers who are waiting to takeoff or those who are waiting for a ride from the airport once they arrive. This is can be a great thing when you are waiting for a lay-over and you have many hours to kill as most airports and other places charge a fee either hourly or daily for internet usage. When the wireless internet network was installed at McCarran Airport in 2005, it was the largest free internet installation in the world, covering over 2 million square feet. Another new feature that helps passengers is something called SpeedCheck which lets people get their boarding pass from a kiosk instead of having to wait in line and go to a person at a counter to get their boarding pass. There are also SpeedCheck kiosks at other places where travelers frequent, such as the Las Vegas Convention Center. You can also print out your own baggage tags at these kiosks in order to further speed up the boarding process.

There are also many other interesting things about McCarran Airport that most people don’t even know about. For instance the airport was featured in many films, including the 1971 James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever starring Sean Connery. Also there is an aviation museum located on level 2 above the baggage claim area. Admittance to the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum is free, so if you are stuck at the airport waiting for your plane, you can check it out to kill some time until your flight is ready. There are also displays of public art around the airport as well as many high end lounges for the more high-end fliers.

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