This topic concerns getting from the Vegas airport to your hotel (and the return journey), via taxi.  You do not have to worry if you are taking a shuttle or limo.  And this topic does not pertain to non-airport travel.

  • Among tourists arriving in Vegas by plane, many people are worried about the dreaded TUNNEL.  People are often told to sound like you are a local and tell the taxi driver to take Swenson instead of the Tunnel, to avoid getting ripped off.  The Tunnel is NOT always a rip-off.  It might be, but it depends on where you are going. Because this question is asked so much, here is a geographic orientation.
  • The Strip runs pretty much north/south. The very south end is Luxor and Mandalay Bay. The very north end of the Strip is Stratosphere and Sahara.
  • The airport is a few blocks east of the south Strip. There are two exits from the airport. One (called Swenson) is to the north and one (called the Tunnel) is to the south.  From the airport, a driver can take Swenson, which is a surface street heading north. 
  • The street that runs east and west, along the north end of the airport, is Tropicana. Tropicana is the street on which NYNY, Excalibur, MGM and Tropicana are located -- south Strip resorts.
  • If you are driving to the Strip from the airport, as a general rule, you will take Swenson north.  (You will usually cut over to Paradise -- the guy who designed Swenson used a live snake as his straightedge, so it curves wildly. Paradise runs parallel to Swenson, without the curves.)  You will drive up Swenson or Paradise as far north as you need to go, parallel to the Strip, and you will then take a cross-street to the Strip.  The major cross streets are, in order going north, Tropicana, Harmon, Flamingo and Sands.  As soon as you've gone far enough north, you turn left and drive to the Strip.
  • The reason why you are on Swenson or Paradise instead of the Strip is because Strip traffic is terrible.  Of course, as a tourist, you will need to drive up the Strip sometime, so some people tell the cabbie to take Tropicana to the Strip and drive the Strip so they can enjoy the sights.
  • If you are going to the south Strip, you should take Swenson out of the airport, and turn left onto Tropicana as soon as you leave the airport.   The cab driver might go to the Strip and turn south, or maybe he will turn left on Koval (which turns right onto Reno), to go to the  Luxor and/or Mandalay Bay. 
  • The Tunnel is an alternate route out of the airport.  The Tunnel is best used if you are going south (such as Silverton and South Point) or to the North Strip area, or to downtown.   The Tunnel goes under the runways to connect to a highway (the 215) which is just south of the airport.  You can take the 215 west to the main north-south highway (the 15). So if you are going to South Coast or Silverton, you would take the Tunnel to the 215 to the 15 South, bypassing all of the traffic and the surface streets of the Strip area.  If you are going to downtown or the north Strip, you would take the Tunnel to the 215 to the 15 North, again bypassing the traffic of the surface streets. If there is an accident that is tying up the surface streets or if there is major construction, you might want to take the Tunnel to get to the south Strip or the mid-Strip.  But usually NOT.  The Tunnel is a legitimate route. Depending on where you are going and traffic conditions.
  • If you do find yourself in a taxi that's taking you to a strip property via the tunnel without your explicit consent,  your driver is probably breaking the law and you have the right to file a complaint. Be sure to note all of the details regarding your ride- the taxi company name, the driver's name, the taxi number, the time and the destination. You can learn more about the laws governing taxicab transportation and lodge a complaint at the Nevada Taxicab Authority website: http://www.taxi.state.nv.us/ **Note- If you opt to lodge a complaint and an officer with the Authority pursues it you will be required to provide a notarized affidavit. Charges can be brought without the passenger having to appear in court.