As I may have mentioned a time or twelve before, my day job is in the construction industry. Every three years, anyone remotely associated with the construction business flocks to the City of Sin for ConExpo/ConAgg. By day you roam the grounds at the Las Vegas Convention Center checking out the newest equipment, technology and other things you probably don’t have a need for, but would look really cool sitting in your shop. At night you roam around the strip playing computerized one arm bandits, attending manufacturer receptions or adding to the number of steps you already regret walking through the day.
Having attended the Expo 3 years ago, we took a red eye home giving us 3 days at the show and then a day to do some sight seeing before flying home the night of the 4th day. This trip being no different, it allowed me some time to peruse Terminal E at McCarran International Airport.
If you for some reason forgot where you were going on your flight in, you will know immediately where you are when you step out of the jetway and are greeted by slot machines. Maybe you want to start the trip off with a big win or maybe you have the last few cents left from your 401k that you want to see if you’ll hit it big, they’re there and waiting.
When you leave the gate area just look for a neon Las Vegas sign which will lead you to escalators to baggage claim and ground transportation. The baggage claim area is spacious, with signs pointing which carousel your bags will come off of. The ramp crew was very quick getting the plane unloaded and bags to the carousel. From the time we left the gate area and made our way down to baggage claim, we waited at most 5 minutes and the bags were riding around for you to pick up.
Our group arrived in Vegas around 10pm local time and there weren’t many flights arriving as compared to peak travel times. If you’re flying to Vegas during those peak times, plan on waiting a bit for a taxi. We were able to make it through the line and get a cab in under 5 minutes. The other times I’ve been there it hasn’t been out of the ordinary to wait close to a half hour.
The Flight Home
After giving my Nike’s a run for their money walking around the Convention Center by day and the Strip by night, it was time to head home. Arriving at Terminal E, having already checked in via the JetBlue App(more on that in another post) I utilized the curbside check in for my bag and headed for security. In keeping with a late night arrival, I had the red eye from LAS to JFK. Security at this hour wasn’t bad, there was a little line but after having my camera gear frisked I made my way to the gate.
Terminal E is serviced by Jet Blue, Alaska, Virgin America, West Jet, Copa and Air Canada. After leaving security 99% of the gates to the right are serviced by Jet Blue. There was still almost 2 hours to burn before I had to board so I set off to find a beer. Food options are very limited after 9:00-9:30 in this end of the terminal. Most places were closed and the only real option was The Village Pub. I’ll keep this one short and sweet, the beer was OK and I can’t complain about the service because there really wasn’t any. RDU, LGA, JFK and TPA all have much better offerings if you’re a beer snob and even the staff at LGA were more personable, if you can put 2 and 2 together, you probably know that’s bad. Also at this end is the Las Vegas Chop House which looked very promising just by looking at their beer taps handles, but they were closed.
At the opposite end of Terminal E you find a much better selection of concessions. For food and drink there was Dewar’s Club House and La Tapenade Mediterranean Grill. Both had decent looking menus and if you’re traveling and trying to eat healthy, by all means hit up La Tapenade. If you’re in the mood for some shopping there is a Sephora, Hudson News as well an Express Spa and a sports apparel shop. For international travelers, or those who want to pull a Kramer, hit the Duty Free Shop.
One great thing about LAS is that the gates are clearly marked with tall video signs giving airline, gate and flight number along with the weather where you are going. As you can see I was leaving mid 70s in Vegas and heading to 26 degrees in New York. While it was pitch black out, there are plenty of windows to allow for natural lighting during the day and tall ceilings not to give you the LGA or ATL sardine can feeling.
In the gate area, there are random power receptacles in the floor to charge your phone, computer or tablet but nothing like RDU or LGA where there are power outlets and USB outlets to tap into either in the seats or the raised bar tops. However, there are charging stations every 3-4 gates which is convenient if you’re trying to get a last minute charge and you’re departing 3 gates away.
For me to give a decent review of the eateries, security waits and such, I’d probably have to come through during a busier time of the day. Given when I was there things were to be expected. Most concessions aren’t staying open all night and at that time of the night, if you’re getting on a plane you probably don’t want to have a big meal beforehand. If you hit it during the right time of the day you will have a great selection of food and drink offerings. Charging stations and some added seating in the gate areas wouldn’t be bad but you can always bet(sorry, pun very much intended) there will be a slot machine open just waiting to take your money. Or will you take theirs? Overall, Las Vegas McCarran’s Terminal E isn’t a bad place to have to wait for a flight. Overall grade B.