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Glitzy New Terminal to Open at Las Vegas Airport

The newest, glitzy building opening in Las Vegas this week isn't a hotel.

View of The Strip from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada
Walter Bibikow | Photolibrary | Getty Images
View of The Strip from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada

Wednesday marks the opening day of Terminal 3 at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, a $2.4 billion terminal that will add 14 gates and help spread the flow of nearly 114,000 daily travelers passing through the airport.

Passengers using the new "E Gates" terminal will find a gleaming, sky-lit three-story structure stretching almost a half-mile from end to end. It has self-serve check-in kiosks, streamlined security, eight miles of automated baggage handling and more than 900 video LCD flight, baggage and gate information displays.

The facility also has free wireless Internet, plenty of places to recharge electronic devices, $5 million worth of public artwork, four replicas of Betty Willis' iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign and, of course, slot machines.

The first full day of operations at the new terminal will be Thursday. Initially catering to international airlines, several domestic airlines will relocate to the new digs July 31, including Alaska Air , Frontier , JetBlue , Sun Country and Virgin America.

The new terminal will expand the airport's capacity to 53 million passengers. In 2011, McCarran airport handled almost 41.5 million passengers. The new facility will also feature an expanded U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrivals hall allowing for up to 2,000 international flyers an hour to be processed — up from the current 800 per hour.

"It will have state-of-the-art technology and capabilities," John Hansman, director of the International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Associated Press. "It also has the advantage of being designed after the security procedures and policies we have were put in place."

Seven of the new gates will serve international flights. Seven will host domestic carriers. Neither the gates nor baggage carousels will have the number 13 — a concession to superstition in a city where casino luck ebbs and flows.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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