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Las Vegas airport vending machines offer more than just junk food

When running through an airport, travelers often are strapped for time and yet may need anything from a quick bite to eat, a new pair of headphones or even some medicine.

Not to worry, novel vending machines are strewn throughout McCarran International Airport aimed at the grab-and-go customers.

Vending machines have grown from the days when they featured just snacks and soft drinks and now are a great retail tool for an airport that operates around the clock and can feature disrupted schedule flows, according to Scott Kichline, assistant director of aviation business and commercial development at McCarran.

“When we have irregular operations, like if rain causes delays, they’re always open,” Kichline said. “They’re always here.”

Since the airport has limited space to add new inline stores, finding wall space for a vending machine is much easier on McCarran officials.

Vending machines also allow the airport to test new products with ease and try products they’ve never featured before in a retail setting at McCarran.

“You can bring in a new product and get some pretty fast feedback of what the customer thinks of it,” Klichline said.

The quick and easy transactions also cater to the younger generation who are accustomed to getting the products they want when they want them, Kichline said.

The machines accept a variety of payments including, cash, credit or debit card and Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here’s a look at some of the novel ones:

Sprinkles cupcakes

Of all the vending machines at McCarran, arguably the most unique and popular dispenses hand-sized bundles of joy for $4.95.

The popular Sprinkles brand cupcakes, which had a retail location at the LINQ promenade that closed last month, has four machines in McCarran, located in the AB Gates rotunda and the C gates.

Travelers eat the cupcakes up, as the machines have sold an average of 6,000 of the deserts each month since they were installed in February and March, according to Christine Crews, airport spokeswoman.

Of the multiple flavors offered, the red velvet cupcake is the top seller and the old time classic, vanilla, is the least popular at McCarran, Crews said.

SIM Electronics

International passengers flying into McCarran often have cellphones that don’t operate on signals in America, or their service is too pricey to use overseas.

To assist these customers, McCarran has SIM Electronics vending machines that can dispense a new SIM card for their phones. The SIM cards come in various prices and feature different amounts of data and talk usage.

The machines also feature universal international power plug adapters for those who have chargers that don’t fit into U.S. electric outlets.


McCarran added machines with battery chargers after receiving requests from travelers waiting for Uber or Lyft rides with dead phone batteries.

“People were like where can I get a battery? My phone is dead and my driver is somewhere here,” Kichline said.

McCarran brought in MobileCubes, portable phone battery chargers that customers can either purchase outright or rent for short term use. There are three of the machines at McCarran, including one located near the rideshare pickup area in the Terminal 1 parking garage.

For those who choose to rent, they can drop the battery chargers off at McCarran, or at over 100 return locations around Las Vegas with machines located inside resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, Kichline said.


For travelers who need basic personal necessities or medicine while either arriving or departing from McCarran, or who are at the airport for a prolonged period, McCarran has you covered.

The Pharmacy has various products to choose from pain relievers, allergy medicine and cough drops to deodorant, feminine hygiene products, condoms and baby supplies.

“If you’re late at night and you have a flight delay, now at least you can get contact solution, or those kind of necessities,” Kichline said. “Or if you’ve already checked in your bag and your flight gets cancelled you might get a voucher for a hotel, but they have nothing with them because their bag is still there.”

Pricing varies on the items but they are priced at fair market value, without a huge markup.

“It’s a nice easy way to service that need for the customer,” Kichline said.

Sound & Mobile Accessories

Forgetting headphones ahead of a long flight can be a bad start to one’s travels.

To help those customers get their trip back on track, McCarran brought in the Sound & Mobile Accessories vending machines.

Featuring several styles of headphones from simple earbuds up to studio quality headsets, the machine has a style and price point for every traveler.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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