Five domestic airlines switching operations to McCarran's Terminal 3

Those wide-open corridors in McCarran International Airport's new Terminal 3 will get a little more crowded today.

Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Virgin America, Frontier Airlines and Sun Country Airlines will switch operations from various locations in Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. The five domestic airlines accounted for 289 of the airport's 3,341 weekly flights and 1.6 million out of the 17.2 million passengers through the first half of 2012.

The $2.4 billion expansion opened June 27, when 15 international carriers moved from the now-shuttered Terminal 2 or from Terminal 1. Their flights leave from the seven gates on the eastern half of the building, with the check-in counters on that side. The domestic airlines will congregate on the west side, which has been largely empty until now.

The terminal's next addition will come on Aug. 22, when United and Hawaiian move their check-in counters and baggage claim from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. However, their flights will continue to depart from Concourse D, connected to Terminal 3 by an underground tram.

All other domestic airlines, including market leader Southwest, will remain in Terminal 1.

In the final phase of Terminal 3's rollout, the economy parking lot north of Terminal 1 will close. Passengers looking to avoid the higher prices of a parking garage will be directed to a surface lot east of Terminal 3's garage.

A couple of glitches emerged early in Terminal 3's life, but have been corrected according to McCarran management.

The placement of sprinklers and a metal bar to protect them created a tight fit for some of cargo containers passing through two doors at ground level, out of sight from passengers. Since then, the sprinklers have been moved.

In addition, a conveyor belt broke on the second day when ground crews overloaded it with luggage from two planes from the same airline. Since then, the crews have used one belt per flight.

Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at or 702-387-5290.


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