Fly Me, Hassle Free to VEGAS!
Flying in and out of any major destination city can have its share of hassles, so imagine what kind of problems you could run into on your way to the Entertainment Capital of the World! Avoid aggravation, high prices, and unpleasant surprises with these insider tips and savvy air travel tricks!
When To Book Flights
The first rule for booking air travel is to start shopping early and often. Doing so will familiarize yourself with prices and give you a keen eye for a rate drop.
Early purchases usually mean better fares you won’t want to miss, but booking too early could mean a higher rate as well. As a rule, one to four months out is generally the sweet spot.
Know that prices increase dramatically within 2 weeks of departure. Avoid travel on holidays and weekends and try to book on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the cheapest days of the week to fly. Know that including a Saturday night stay over during your trip will reduce your airfare as well. For cheapest rates, know that first flights out for the day tend to be the least expensive.
A great way to check out the cheapest airfare on any particular travel day is through Google.com/flights.
Remember, if you see a good deal, don’t hold out with the hopes of it dropping even lower–the likelihood is the airfare will either go up or be totally sold out the next time you check.
Discount airlines like Jet Blue, Southwest, or AirTran generally offer cheaper rates than other major carriers. If researching flights with a travel site like Expedia and Orbitz, know that they don’t always list these discount airlines. For this reason, don’t rely solely on discount travel websites without checking individual discount airline sites as well.
When choosing and airline, remember to check their policies for baggage and change fees. With most airlines these days, baggage fees are hefty and can really add up, so factor in this cost when flight shopping. As you’ll likely be paying for each bag, pack light to avoid a second bag charge and/or an overweight fee. Plan to carry on as much as you can, yet still be able to move around the airport comfortably.
With a “regular” ticket, Southwest Airlines is the only airline that does not charge baggage fees (FREE first and second checked bags–weight and size limits apply). Nor do they charge change fees (NO penalty for changing your itinerary)–gotta love Southwest Airlines for that!
Vegas.com is a Vegas-centric travel site filled with great information and deals, including hotel and flight. Be sure to peruse this site while shopping for flights, as it will also help you create your Things-To-Do-In-Vegas wish list.
For powerful comparison-shopping, visit Priceline to find discount airfares as well as flight+hotel packages. If you’re interested in booking these types of packages remember to always add up the costs separately and see if you are actually getting a savings. While there will usually be some savings built-in, it might not be any better than booking a hotel with the best promotion and combining that with a cheap flight separately, so do the math!
Southwest Vacations has some of the very best Vegas vacation deals available because of their “bags fly free” credo as well and the website’s elaborate “search vacations and save” option.
What To Know About The Airport
Only one major airport services Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport (letter code LAS) and this is one helluva big and entertaining place! Complete with shopping, a kids play area, pet relief area, bars and restaurants, it’s also home to the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum.
There are ATMs, a Wells Fargo, and Currency Exchange to meet your moola needs. There’s also a full service US Post Office for mailing or shipping any souvenirs and found treasures–something to consider given bag fee and overweight charges.
You can even get a sparkling shoeshine or try your luck on slot machines while waiting for your flight…yes rows and rows of slot machines, it’s Vegas, baby!
McCarran International Airport has two totally separate terminal buildings, Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 (yep, there’s no Terminal 2). Each terminal has its own parking garage, ticketing/check-in area, baggage claim, and food and shopping facilities. These terminals are NOT physically connected, so you better find out from which terminal building your airline operates before going to the airport.
This airport is sprawling, so plan ahead with plenty of time to get from one point to another…and be prepared to walk! Depending on where your gate is located, you may need to take a tram to get to it, but even with this automated transportation, there will be plenty of walking going on.
TSA lines are notoriously long at McCarran, so make time for that great wait. See about signing up for TSA’s PreCheck https://www.tsa.gov/precheck. Members of this program are pre-screened and can then breeze through security without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from their bags.
Lastly, if you haven’t had your fill of Vegas lounges, lounge on! McCarran offers several bars and lounges such as The Club at LAS or the Centurion Lounge. For more information visit https://www.mccarran.com/Find/Facilities.aspx
From the Airport to Your Hotel
There are multiple modes of transportation to get you to and from McCarran Airport, fitting all budgets and schedules.
Certain resort casinos offer luxury limo rides to and from the airport to high rollers, VIPs, and folks with special room bookings. Be sure to check with your hotel to see if this option is available to you.
You can also roll like a rock-start with a curbside walk-up limousine service. For about $25 dollars more than a cab, you can take a limo from the airport to your hotel, avoid the taxi line, and feel like a VIP! Presidential limo is one of the more popular Las Vegas limo providers.
Taxicabs are available just outside baggage claim in Terminal 1 and outside Level Zero in Terminal 3. Airport personnel are there to help queue the lines and answer questions. Cab fares range from about $16 to $26, depending on how far your hotel is, plus an extra $2 charge for any ride originating from the airport.
Ride sharing your thing? Finally, Uber and Lyft have been authorized to provide transportation service to and from the Vegas airport. Designated ride share pick up locations are at Level 2M in Terminal 1 and at the Valet Level in Terminal 3.
Airport curbside shuttle services are economical and conveniently located just steps away from baggage claim. Be sure to book your reservation in advance by phone or online. Click here to learn more about the various shuttle service providers at McCarran https://www.mccarran.com/Go/Shuttles.aspx
If your budget is lean, or you’d just like to get a local feel for Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) provides bus service to and from McCarran International Airport. For bus route information to your hotel, visit the RTC website http://www.rtcsnv.com/transit/getting-to-mccarran-airport/
Get more details on transportation options from the Vegas airport to the strip.
Return Travel Day Tips
You probably don’t want the slogan what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, to apply to you staying because you missed your flight! Here are some important tips you’ll want to keep in mind for the day you travel home:
- Know that you’ll be one of hundreds of people looking to checkout, grab a cab, get a bell cap, etc. Allow plenty of time to leave the hotel and be prepared to arrive at the airport at least 90minutes before your flight (2 hrs. for international flights).
- Last night out overindulgence is notorious. Pack your bags as much as you can and set a wake-up call and/or your alarm, before going out for the night.
- Check your flight time periodically to be sure there will be no surprises when you get to the airport. Also reconfirm your seating assignment. When available sign-up for email or text message flight alerts.
- If your flight is delayed or canceled once you’re already at the airport, get immediately in line to rebook the flight, but simultaneously start calling the airline directly. You may be more likely to get a faster response by phone, than by waiting to get to the head of a long and frustrating line.