Sneak peek: An inside look at McCarran’s Terminal 3

The Las Vegas Strip can be seen Feb. 1, 2012, from McCarran International Airport’s new Terminal 3.

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McCarran's Terminal 3 Preview

The Las Vegas Strip can be seen Feb. 1, 2012, from McCarran International Airport's new Terminal 3. Launch slideshow »

When the doors open at McCarran International Airport’s $2.4 billion Terminal 3 on June 27, arriving passengers and locals leaving on international and long-haul domestic trips will see a 14-gate, half-mile-long building with plenty of flexibility.

There’s still plenty of work to be done. Most of the electronic equipment hasn’t been placed, and contractors have begun work to finish the terminal’s retail areas and food outlets — which will be expanded gradually as terminal traffic grows.

A 10,000-square-foot duty-free store, four times the size of the existing Terminal 2 store, is planned.

T3 will have six gates dedicated primarily to international arrivals and departures and one that can be international or domestic, depending on need. It will have counter space for every international carrier and seven domestic airlines -- Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier, JetBlue, Virgin America, United and Sun Country -- that will be easily expandable and include portals to power and communications cabling.

Randall Walker, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, who gave the Las Vegas Sun a two-hour tour of the building recently, said ticket counters had been built to allow for self-tagging of bags -- a convenience he expected federal authorities to soon approve.

Terminal 3 also will have Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on two levels -- one that will be in place on opening day and the other to accommodate more passengers as traffic grows. Initially, the TSA will place its scanning equipment on the 14-lane top floor with a minimal number of units on the bottom for training purposes.

Eventually, passengers boarding planes in McCarran’s D gates will be scanned at the 17-lane checkpoint on the bottom floor, and a tram as long as the one that connects the main terminal with the C gates will transport passengers underground to the D gates rotunda near a new retail area there.

The new terminal signage is easy to follow: Observe the blue signs if you’re a departing passenger and follow the orange ones if you’re arriving.

Some of the international gates will be equipped with dual bridges to better load and unload jumbo jets.

Like many modern international air terminals, McCarran’s T3 will have flexible hallways to direct arrivals to lanes for checking passport and entry documents.

Fifteen baggage carousels, some of which can be cordoned off strictly for international arrivals, will handle T3 and some D gate arrivals.

It’s just a short walk from baggage claim to the arrivals curb, and there are 20 taxicab slots to pick up passengers. That’s in addition to the cab area in the existing terminal that will remain open.

Locals picking up passengers can go to the pickup curb or park in the terminal’s new 6,000-space garage.

Seven pieces of public art will adorn the new terminal, including a suspended piece featuring fluttering butterflies shaped like airplanes. A Peter Lik photograph of the Grand Canyon will be placed near the international gates -- a strategic location, considering about 80 percent of Grand Canyon air tour business is sales to foreign arrivals.

There’s also a striking three-dimensional “only-in-Vegas” piece of 23 showgirls by local artist Terry Ritter brightening the international arrivals area.

Walker said the airport was planning a public day for locals to explore the new terminal closer to opening day. In addition, a charitable 10K race will be scheduled on streets around the new building for people to better familiarize themselves with the roadways before they open to vehicle traffic.

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  1. Chunky says:

    Nice facility and story but why are all the horizons and vertical elements of the building leaning to the left in the photos? It takes only a second or two of thought to level your camera through the viewfinder or maybe thirty seconds in Photoshop afterward.

    Usually the Sun / VegasINC has exceptionally good photography. Some of these images should have never made it without proper work.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  2. They are built slanted, it's called architecture... who wants to walk through a boring terminal.