Aviation News

June 22, 2012

Inside the New Terminal 3 at McCarran Las Vegas International Airport

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By: Dan Landson
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Terminal 3 is adorned with colorful signage. (Courtesy of Clark County Department of Aviation)
Terminal 3 is adorned with colorful signage. (Courtesy of Clark County Department of Aviation)
LAS VEGAS — An estimated 15,000 people turned out on a sunny June Saturday to get an inside look at McCarran International Airport’s brand new Terminal 3, or T-3 for short. The state’s largest public works project has been underway since 2007 and is now within days of opening.

The massive 1.9 million square foot facility cost $2.4 billion to build. It’s a state of the art, high tech and all around beautiful building. Inside the nearly half-mile long terminal there are 14 gates split evenly between international arrivals and departures and domestic carriers.

International travelers will notice the biggest change by far as airlines move their operations away from the current Terminal 2 into T-3 starting June 27th. It’s cleaner, bigger and much more inviting than the current terminal. One of the biggest changes is the Customs facility. It will handle up to 2,000 passengers an hour, 1,200 more than the current facility can process. Also in Customs are two Peter Lik photographs – one of the Grand Canyon and another of some Vegas showgirls. Then as you walk down the hall to collect your bags you’ll pass dozens of historical Las Vegas photographs. Clark County Commissioners put a lot of emphasis in the international side of the terminal because international tourists typically spend more than Americans and spend more time in Las Vegas. They say it’s often the first and last place people see of a city so it needs to special especially for a city that is so very dependent on tourism.

Back on the main level, T-3 has taken high-tech to the next level. Gate information is displayed on columns that show you the flight, destination, a picture of the destination and its weather. Advertising takes up the bottom half of the screens.

All gates are equipped with self-boarding technology. This allows the passenger to scan their boarding pass to get through a gate allowing them to board their flights.

The concessions for the most part are the same as you’ll find at other airports with a few minor tweaks. There are more sit down restaurants available than McCarran’s current T-1 & D Gates.

And if you’re wondering about how T-3 is connected to the other terminals, there’s a new tram that will take you under the ramp to the D gates. United Airlines will be one of the biggest domestic carriers to utilize this. It will have its check in at T-3 and then you’ll be able to take the tram to the D gates to get on your flight.

Overall, McCarran did a phenomenal job designing the facility. The first flights arrive at T-3 on June 27th. At first only international airlines will use it and then several domestic airlines will shift their operations in phases over the next several months.