Monday, April 8, 2013

The Airport and Transportation

Just a few brief thoughts on McCarran International Airport (LAS) and how to best navigate the place and how best to get out of there.  In all likelihood, you will likely arrive at Terminal 1 unless your flight is a charter or you are coming from overseas.  When you arrive, you want to look for the tram that will take you to baggage claim.  Even if you don't have any bags to claim, the baggage claim area is also where you will find all the transportation options, whether you are renting a car, taking the bus, finding a cab or shuttle or even meeting your limousine.

If you are renting a car, you need to look for Doors 10 and 11 as that is where the Rental Car shuttle is located.  The shuttle will take you to the Rent-A-Car center which is located several miles from the airport.  It is actually a very well organized place and you should have no problem finding your particular agency.

If you are staying downtown or just have a spirit of adventure and are taking the bus to your hotel, you will find it outside Level Zero.  There is an escalator right in the middle of the baggage claim area that you will need to take.  Then just exit through the doors and walk to your right until you see the stop for the RTC.  There are three routes that will take you downtown, the 108, the 109 or the Westcliff Airport Express.  The 108 is preferable to the 109 as it takes Paradise road instead of Maryland Parkway, which is a longer route.  I am not that familiar with the Westcliff Airport Express but it makes stops at Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd and downtown at 4th and Carson.  Honestly, unless you are really poor or just want to have an adventure, I wouldn't go that way.

The simplest thing to do is to just take a cab.  Of course, everybody and their mama and daddy are going to do the same thing so there can be some pretty long cab lines.  Don't get discouraged.  They move pretty fast.  Just look for door exits 1-4 and you can join the line.  Now a cab is usually the fastest way to get to your hotel.  If you have more than a couple of people in tow, it is also likely as cheap as a shuttle.  Now, Vegas cab drivers are notorious for "tunneling" people which, for your purposes, means they are taking a longer route to get you to your destination.  Occasionally, that may actually save you money, but, if you are staying on the Strip, you are probably getting ripped off.  When you get in the cab, tell the driver your destination and ask him to take the "surface streets" instead of the tunnel and you will likely save $5 or $10.  Expect to pay anywhere from $15-$35, depending on your location.  A reasonable tip is always to round your fare up to the nearest $5 increment and then tip $1 for each such increment.  In other words, if you have a $18 fare, round it up to $20 and give the driver $23.  I'll cover more details in my upcoming "tipping" tips.

So you are feeling special or maybe you are arriving with a fairly large group and you want to engage the services of a limousine?  Not difficult.  From the baggage claim area, you are looking for door exits 7-13.  Now a limo may cost you anywhere from $40-$100, depending on what you are looking for.  Most will just take you directly to your hotel and, let's be honest, it is pretty cool for you and your party to step out of a limo as you arrive at your destination.  Again, approximately a 20% tip is reasonable.  If you want the limo driver to stop anywhere or give you a short tour up the Strip, you should let he or she know in advance and find out what that will cost you.  I've done it.  It's fun.  But....unless you are a high roller, it probably isn't worth it.

The final way to exit the airport (unless you plan to walk....don't laugh, I've heard of people doing it, but you shouldn't) is to take one of the Airport shuttles.  Whenever you book a vacation package, they try to sell you transportation on one of these things.  I'm just going to say that I'm not a fan.  The shuttles are also located outside door exits 7-13.  There are at least 3 or 4 companies that do this and they are a reasonable option if you are travelling solo.  Depending on where you are staying, you will likely pay $8-$12 per person (that's just a current guess as I'm not certain) so it will be less expensive than a cab if you are alone. may have to wait 15-20 minutes just for the shuttle to fill up and depart.  You might also be the last stop on the shuttle route so you might wait another 15-20 minutes longer than necessary just to get to your destination.  I mean it's OK.  The shuttles are nice enough, the drivers are nice enough and it isn't terrible.  But you've just spent all that time on the airplane, you've finally landed and you are ready to roll, aren't you?  Yeah...just grab a cab.  You'll thank me.

Well...that was a longer posting than I expected.  I guess, when I start talking about Las Vegas, I just can't shut up.  If you have any questions you'd like to see answered, just leave a comment and I'll do my best to help you out.  As always, would love to see some folks following this blog so please do so!

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