McCarran Airport Las Vegas: Like a Cow Being Led to Slaughter


McCarren Airport is host to over 40 million travelers annually and in 2008 was considered to be the 15th busiest airport in the world. Match that with current security measures and a trip to or from Las Vegas can be a stressful ordeal. I got to experience this first hand last weekend. My flight was in the afternoon and that was probably my first mistake. The airport is always busier in the afternoon. It’s much easier to get to your gate in the mornings, but I’m lazy and wanted to sleep in.

Photo by Jared Cantrell

As I waited in line I overheard the usual metaphors, “I feel like a cow being led to slaughter,” or “this is what prison must be like,” and so on. Security is much more strict today than it was ten years ago. Remember, just three months ago someone tried to blow up a plane with their underwear, so there is a wide variety of security measures that have to be taken to ensure the safety of travelers. There are few things in life I’m good at, but I do consider myself a good flier. Here are a few tips to help you out.

Photo by Jared Cantrell

Know what needs to be checked. If there is anything in your pockets that could potentially set off the metal detector, then have it scanned. No liquids can be taken through security and laptops need to be removed from your bag to be scanned. Also, you’ll need to remove your shoes, so wear clean socks.

Stay the course. Once you finally get through the maze of ropes to go through security, pick a line and stay with it. Other passengers will start to get anxious if they see you continually switching lines.

Have your ID and boarding pass ready. You’ll have to present it more than once so keep it in a spot that’s easy to get to, and be sure it’s still there once you get through security.

Don’t argue. That six ounce bottle of hand lotion probably isn’t going to harm anyone, but it exceeds regulations. There is no use in pleading with the TSA agent, they’re not able to make exceptions, get rid of it. The same goes with water and other beverages, you can’t take them with you as ridiculous as it sounds. There are others waiting in line, and you shouldn’t hold them up by arguing with security.

Arrive early. Show up early so you don’t have to worry about missing your flight. Being in a rush just adds to the stress.

Choose a late or early flight. If you can’t handle waiting in long lines then refrain from flying between 11am and 6pm. You may be happier flying in the morning or later at night.

Be patient. Everyone in line has the same goal. As long as you relax and cooperate you’ll be on your way in no time. No-one wants to keep the line moving more than the TSA.

Going through the airport can be a daunting task and sometimes embarrassing. Occasionally you may be pulled aside for additional screening (that’s happened to me twice) and they’ll have to search through your bag by hand, revealing items to the public that you’d rather keep private. Just remember you’re not guilty, but they want to make sure to catch the ones that are.


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