McCarran’s biggest gamble ….
Las Vegas airport opened a costly new terminal in summer 2012 that has been described as a game changer.Whether you are flying to Vegas hoping for a winning streak in the casinos or an impulse wedding, the journey for international passengers has recently become a lot more exciting, a bit like the gambling centre it serves.Why? Because, at the end of June 2012, Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport opened its new Terminal 3 – all 177,000 square metres of it – creating more space and more shops than passengers had previously been used to.
T3 was the biggest public works project in the state of Nevada and cost $2.4 billion. It adds 14 much-needed new gates to accommodate international and domestic air services, bringing total capacity at the airport up to approximately 53 million passengers.
The new terminal is state-of-the-art, offering such services as kiosks that allow passengers on participating carriers to tag their own checked baggage; self check-in equipment at some gates; 14 video pylons displaying imagery and weather conditions at several destination cities; and free wireless Internet access that has been extended to allow the signal to be used by passengers on aircraft that are parked at any of T3’s gates.
There are other more technical advances at the terminal related to baggage systems, security and transportation, but perhaps of most interest to passengers will be the addition of more than a dozen stores and restaurants. That may not sound a lot but when the main duty free shop is 840 square metres in size you can understand why there was not much space left over.
The giant duty free store, run by The Nuance Group, is one of the largest in North America. Located close to Gate E7, it offers an extremely wide assortment of premium liquor, tobacco, cosmetics, fragrances, fashion, electronics and imported confectionery – and incorporates several very swanky shop-in-shop concepts for major brands. These include Jack Daniels, La Mer, Lancôme, Longchamp, MAC, Montblanc, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sharper Image, Tissot and Tous, plus a very large Victoria’s Secret space that dominates the central space in the store.Passengers will no doubt be drawn to this main shop because of its inviting appearance and mix of exciting brands, as well as the practical fact that it has a dominant position in what is a very long terminal at 700 metres. The other stores are neatly lined up across the building’s length but are not really the types of destination outlets that will set anyone’s heart racing.Souvenir hunters might like to visit Welcome to Las Vegas, a fun store specialising in gaming souvenirs, trinkets and just about anything and everything that screams Las Vegas. It is located near Gate E4, right next door to World of Sports, offering fans of the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL etc a large mix of branded products from jerseys, hats and T-shirts to jackets and accessories.
World of Sports also doubles up on the other side of T3 near gate E9 and beside it is Vegas Special Tees – not a golf shop but a fashion store specialising in unique T-shirts and other apparel. Other retail units include five Hudson News convenience/newsstands stores.
A highlight of this line-up of smaller units is XpresSpa near Gate E3. Here you can get something approaching a total spa experience including massage, reflexology, manicures, pedicures, facials and waxing, in a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. Maybe just the thing after a shopping frenzy at the main duty free store.
Passenger numbers, 2011: Almost 41.5 million at the airport as a whole (T3 is expected to account for an increasing share of this traffic over the coming years)
Airlines: Currently 16, but transfers from T1 are continuing. The biggest carriers (by number of routes) are Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines, WestJet and United Airlines.
Worth knowing: Terminal 3 houses an expansive public art programme that includes works by several well-known artists, as well as Clark County school children. So if you are an art lover and have time to kill, this terminal could be worth getting to that much earlier to check out the collection. Alternatively, for culture of a different kind, there are 300 slot machines waiting to entertain you!