It's Travel Time

It's Travel Time At McCarran

By Clinton


As some of you know, I work at one of the airlines at McCarran Airport. In my time there I have learned a number of things that I never really paid attention to when I was just an airline passenger. Since we are at the start summer, and many folks will be traveling to many different places, not only throughout the USA but to other countries, I figured that I would let you know about some of the things that you should either know and/or do with your trip to the airport. Now most of this applies to the airline that I am with, but many of the same things apply to other airlines.


  1. The Internet is your friend when booking your trip. You have probably seen ads in TV for different for travel companies that claim you will find the best prices. This is actually true in many cases, but some airlines like Southwest do not permit their prices to be included in them. I found that when I went to those sites, I could find out who was offering the best prices, then if I went directly to the airline(s) that offered the best prices via these websites, I could usually find the same flights for a few dollars less. The other advantage also is that by going directly to the website of the airline and booking is that one can also pick their seat(s) along with other things. The advantage that the booking sites like Travelocity, Orbit and others is that it makes it far easier to not only book your flights, but your hotel, car rental and other things.

  2. Avoid booking a flight that takes off within three hours after you are at a big event. I noticed after a couple of big events that were here that people had rushed to arrive to late to be able to catch the flight that they had wanted. Arriving late can cost you more money than if you had stayed in a hotel that night. Yes it is great to get home to family and your own bed ASAP, but the stress that you might end up having to deal with is not worth it.

  3. Arrive a minimum of 90 minutes prior to your flight. Yes I know that getting through security many times for you is real fast, but most airline have a cutoff of 45 minutes before your flight to be checked in and to take your luggage. Depending on what time you are traveling, and the number of flights that an airline has scheduled to fly out could make the difference between you getting through the check-in and not. Many people think that if they arrive 60 minutes before their flight that they will have plenty of time, only to discover that there are long lines at both the airline and for security. The counter for the airline that I deal with opens at 3am, and there have been times when I have arrived long before that to see people lined up already. I remember arriving one time 90 minutes prior to the opening of another airline to see that their Full Service line was already full of at least 100 military personnel already waiting (Active Military get a few extra benefits.)

  4. The Kiosk/Self-Service Machines are your friends. The days going to the counter are basically over. Yes some still offer the full service experience as an option, but the advantage of being able to change flights, change seats and many other things comes with the kiosk machines as by the time that you get to the counter the things that you desire could be gone because someone has used the kiosk while you waited in line. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the floor personnel of the airline, as it is part of their job and will gladly help you. It is not unusual to find people flying First Class using the kiosk when they can go to the counter.

  5. Get a Passport. You may not be flying out of the country, but having a passport has it's advantages. A passport is good to use as it is a valid ID almost everywhere. With airlines you can use it to check in, go through security (as long as you have a boarding pass,) along with other things.

  6. Keep your baggage under 50lbs for each bag. You may think that an airline will let you let 2 or 3 pounds slide by, but the rules are very strict on the weight limit. Those flying First Class get a higher limit in many cases, but being over can cost you $100. Not all airlines let you check just one bag for free. With Southwest you get the first two bags free (this could change,) but most airlines will charge you. Even if you are traveling with a number of bags to check in, the maximum for each bag is 50lbs.

  7. Check in ASAP with airlines like Southwest. The advantage with checking in with them early (24 hours early,) is that they use a system to load passengers onto their planes by numbers, which means that you have a better choice of a window or aisle seat on the plane itself since they don't assign seats. If you are flying with others, you will have a better shot of sitting together by checking in early.

  8. Just because it is cheap does not mean that you will be saving money. There are a few airlines who advertise really cheap fairs, but what they don't mention are the added cost that you will be paying. Some of these additional fees are things like an additional cost for going to the counter for a Boarding Pass, Charging for carry-on bags, charges for food (even water) and many other things. Sure the airfare itself maybe say $50 each way, but with all of the other charges added on you may end up spending $200 each way, when if you had chosen the airfare that was $125 each way you would of truly saved money.

  9. Check to see which terminal you are flying out of BEFORE you leave for the airport. Even though airports like McCarran have big signs saying which terminal an airline if flying out of, you would be amazed at the number of people who end up at the wrong terminal. Their are a number of reasons why this happens. One of the reasons is that people do not really look that hard to see which airline that they are actually flying on. Even though you may have booked your travel on one airline does not mean that it is the one that you will be flying on. With so many mergers and agreements between airlines you could end up going to the wronger terminal. Look closely at your itinerary to see if you see the words “Operated By [airline]” and if you see that, go directly to that airline when you go to check in. Another thing that happens is that in cases Taxis and Shuttle Drivers believe that they know where an airline is, but go to the wrong place. There have times that I have seen people miss their flights as a result.

  10. Join the “Frequent Flyer” club of the airlines that you travel the most on even if you only travel on them once a year. Even though you have too really fly either a lot or long distances to get any real benefits from joining them, being a member has it's advantages in that when you go to a kiosk all that you will need to do is to enter your membership number to check in. Since with most of the airlines you can lose your mileage if you don't use them after a certain amount of time, donate them to a non-profit organization like the Make A Wish Foundation who will use them.

  11. Know when you are flying. If your flight is at 12:45AM on December 24, that does not mean that you can come to Christmas Eve service then to the airport as your flight will have already left. People showing up 24 hours late for a flight is not that uncommon as people will forget about the date change.

  12. The largest liquid that you can take in your carry-on bag(s) is 3.5oz, anything above that must be in your checked-in luggage. The only exceptions to this rule is prescription liquid medicines. You can also take your diabetic needles and other medical needs with you.


I could go on with other things about traveling through an airport, but I figured that I would give you a tip based on the number of Apostles. I hope that these are helpful for you and that your future flights be smooth, relaxing and fun.