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Taxi Long Hauling From the Airport in Las Vegas

Updated on August 4, 2013
Taxi near the MGM Grand.
Taxi near the MGM Grand. | Source

When I took a taxi from the Aria hotel in Las Vegas to McCarran Airport in December 2011, the cab driver agreed with my assessment that approximately 3 out of 4 tourists who get into a cab at the Las Vegas airport (McCarran) are "long hauled"... which means the driver takes a longer route than necessary in order to inflate the cost of the ride. I came up with 75 percent because that's how often cab drivers in Las Vegas have attempted to long haul me over the twenty year period I've been visiting Las Vegas.

This is a serious problem. Imagine if restaurants doubled your bill for no reason. It's not just dishonest and a low level form of robbery, it's against the law. Any taxi driver who long hauls a customer in Las Vegas is risking a $500 fine. And after three fines they get fired.

Even though you can SEE that the Las Vegas strip is close enough to walk to while you're landing and the airplane is taxiing to the gate, 99 percent of tourists don't wonder why they see no sign of the strip while they're riding in a taxi from the airport. Below is a photo I shot from the airport.

View of the south end of the Las Vegas strip from McCarran (Las Vegas) airport. Even though the Luxor and Mandalay Bay appear to be sitting right on top of a runway... tourists rarely question why they are in a cab for 20 minutes.
View of the south end of the Las Vegas strip from McCarran (Las Vegas) airport. Even though the Luxor and Mandalay Bay appear to be sitting right on top of a runway... tourists rarely question why they are in a cab for 20 minutes. | Source

And you CAN in fact walk to the Las Vegas strip from the airport without any difficulty. It's about 2 miles to the intersection of Tropicana & Las Vegas Blvd. You wouldn't want to carry luggage that far though.

The map below shows the most common route taxi drivers take when they want to cheat you. The red line is the "long haul" route to the center strip where they go through a tunnel at the south side of the airport that goes underneath the runways. You end up about two miles south of the airport, where the driver will get on Interstate 215, head toward Las Vegas Blvd., and then double back two miles to the north. The driver has taken you five miles to get about two miles from where you just were.

The green line shows the route a cab driver SHOULD take to the center strip from the airport. Instead of heading south to Interstate 215, the driver should take Swenson Street north to Tropicana; turn left on Tropicana, and it's two miles to Las Vegas Blvd. If you're staying at Luxor, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel, Tropicana, Excalibur or MGM Grand; those properties are all near the intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd.

If traffic is heavy, and depending on which side of the strip your hotel is on; the driver might take some slightly different route; like taking Paradise, Swenson, Reno Ave. or Industrial Ave. to the back of the hotel instead of cruising Las Vegas Blvd. in front of the hotels. In any case, you should be on Swenson heading north out of the airport rather than going south through the tunnel.

The GREEN line is the route a cab driver should take from the airport to the center strip (Harmon Ave. & Las Vegas Blvd.) The RED line is the route they usually take, to artificially increase the fare.
The GREEN line is the route a cab driver should take from the airport to the center strip (Harmon Ave. & Las Vegas Blvd.) The RED line is the route they usually take, to artificially increase the fare. | Source

On my ride from McCarran TO the Aria Hotel in December 2011, the Whittlesea Cab #5107 driver, a stoic Japanese man, took me on an even longer than normal long haul route. This guy had me way out in the middle of nowhere, going around in a big circle, so that we ended up at the north end of the airport after about 15 minutes of driving. Which is where we should have been after about two minutes. See the map below. The RED line is the SUPER long haul route. The green line is the route he should have taken.

The red line shows a SUPER long haul route which SUPER greedy cab drivers might take you on. Instead of the green line, which is the route they are supposed to take.
The red line shows a SUPER long haul route which SUPER greedy cab drivers might take you on. Instead of the green line, which is the route they are supposed to take. | Source

This was my twentieth visit to Las Vegas. The guy didn't care; he didn't even think I might know the city; he just took me on a long LONG ride and even had the audacity to tell me "This is the shortest route."

What did I do? The same thing you should do when you're long hauled: call the police.

The Nevada Taxi Authority web site shows you approximate fares from McCarran to most of the tourist area hotels. If you get taken through the tunnel and the fare is way higher than what the web site says it should be, REFUSE to pay. Don't let the driver intimidate you, as my Japanese driver tried to do by telling me refusing to pay was a crime. HE committed the crime, not me. Get out of the cab, do not pay the fare; and call the Nevada Taxi Authority at 702-668-4000. Put that number in your cell phone contact list right now. If you call after business hours, a recording tells you to press 1 to report a cab driver. Press 1 and a live person will answer, 24/7, because the Nevada Taxi Authority enforcement officers are actually Nevada State Police troopers.

They'll ask for your name, phone number, where you are, and if you're willing to sign a complaint. A state police trooper will pull up in 10 or 15 minutes. You sign the complaint, the driver gets a $500 fine and your cab fare is reimbursed if you did pay it.


As a tourist in Las Vegas, you're always a target for cab drivers. Not just riding from the airport. I've had drivers try to long haul me from the strip TO the airport, and from one destination on the strip to another destination. The law says that the driver is supposed to take the shortest route to your destination unless you request otherwise (such as if you're in a hurry and ask for the fastest route.) If you're at the MGM and want to take a taxi to Caesars Palace, the shortest route is straight up Las Vegas Blvd. The shortest route from anyplace on the strip to any other place on the strip, is straight along the strip. Don't let the driver take you down a side street and onto the freeway where they can jack up your fare.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Bean Fartz 

    4 years ago

    I'm a Vegas local, and cabbies have tried to rip me off from the airport, too. I fly several times a year to the east coast--I have elderly parents, so it's easier for me to hop on a plane and visit them rather then have them come to me. The airline I return to Vegas on operates from T3. When I hop in the cab, I ALWAYS give specific directions--make a right on Russell to the 95 and head south to Henderson. This one driver last summer, after I repeated the above directions to him TWICE before we pulled away from the curb, merges in the lanes going north to Paradise. I asked him what he was doing--I told him to go the opposite way, and he replied "Oh, I didn't think Russell went to the 95". I responded "If that's the case, why didn't you say something before we left the curb after I told you TWICE how I wanted to go?". After some silence, he asked how much I usually pay, I told him, and he stopped the meter along the way at that point. Needless to say, he got exact change, not tip.

    It's bad enough these taxi scum do that to tourists, but why do it to locals that know their way around town?I've lived in Vegas for 20 years and know my way around. Ever since then, I watch the cabbie like a hawk leaving the airport to make sure they go as I direct them to.

  • profile image

    Mad traveller 

    4 years ago

    Really Damian?!? Ive been to Vegas 14 times in 10 years and now know Ive been long hauled on numerous occasions. I don't gamble, no hookers, blow or strip joints for this girl either! I pay for my trip, I pay for my shows, shopping and food & I always tip well. Unfortunately there are people like you and countless others who try to take advantage of the fact that I work hard and save up to go on a trip. And guess what.....I don't rip people off in order to do it. From now on I will be paying attention to my cab rides and calling the authorities as needed. Thanks!

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Am a Cab driver from Las Vegas, and you right, about 75% of the people are Long Haul from the Airport to there destination but am going to tell you why they do it. Every Morning and every Night Cab drivers have to deal with people that they run out of the Cab, they don't have enough change and some costumer give them fake change and at the end the Cab driver have to put at He/She own pucket the money that was lost. Now at Night you get Costumers that they want some Coke,Hooker's, Massage parlor's or go to some Strip Club's such as Spearmintrhino in Highland Rd.Cheetah's in Highland Rd. Little Darlings in western Rd. Sapphire in Industrial rd. Crazy Horse 3 in Russel rd. Olympic Garden in Las Vegas Blvd, Palomino in Las Vegas Blvd, Play it againg Sam in Springmountaing Rd.pussy Cat doll's in Polaris St. Deja Vu in Industrial Rd. The Horse in Industrial was Crazy Horse 2 but they change ownersship. Club Paradise in Paradise Rd. Hustler in Dean Marting Rd, Diamond in Highland Rd. now in the taxi Company's if a person bring's a low book in performance or not enough ride's that person get a written warning and if He or She continues with the type of performer's that person is terminated from the Company now the Cab driver has to Long Haul to maintaing he's job and support He/Her kid's besides in las Vegas People come from all over the World to spend money, some money that they don't need because they gamble

  • urbanphotos profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    That's good info RustyChops, thanks.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    lucifernv is absolutely another cab driving crook. I have been driving cab here in LV for about 5 years now, and I am still AMAZED at what I see being done to jack up fares through pure lying and scamming. At the new Terminal 3 drivers have figured out how to add about .7 miles to the ride (approx. $1.80) even when "taking the streets" or "taking Swenson Ave." They simply stay in the LEFT lanes when approaching Swenson instead of merging right onto the street in the right lane connector. This takes you back toward Terminal One and THEN out onto Swenson. And if you are going to Mirage, Treasure Island, Venetian, or Palazzo and insist on the streets, they will take you north up Paradise, to Sands, then west over to either Koval or LV Blvd, then double back south to these 4 properties. it doesn't add much, maybe 60 cents, but the idea that you MUST screw every rider is just irritating. Also any downtown ride is 90% likely to be longhauled around from N/B I-15, onto S/B I-95, so as to come into downtown from much further north than necessary. Had they simply exited I-15 at Charleston Blvd it would save about $5. And the lies I hear from my passengers about their trip from the airport when I am taking them back to catch their flight home. "The driver told us Paradise Rd is closed now." "He said he is not allowed to turn left when leaving the airport loading area." "We were offered either the freeway or straight up the strip." "He said traffic was a nightmare, but it was 5 AM on Tuesday." "The driver said tips can only be 20%-30%-40%-or 50% and showed us this on the display." (The video display on the credit card reader OFFERS these pre-calculated tip amounts, or you may enter your own amount, or nothing at all) They also will take the freeway even if you say "shortest way please" and then claim they thought you meant shortest time, not the shortest distance. The biggest problem honest drivers like myself face is PURE APATHY when tourists learn they have been fleeced. Please be aware of ALL of these ploys, and countless others. Take the initiative, and you TELL the driver when you get in that you know where you're going, (don't wait for them to ask, many these days aren't even asking at all anymore) and that you WILL call the Taxi Authority if you suspect anything. This is epidemic, it is easily about 50-75% of all rides, and it makes it nearly impossible for honest drivers to keep their jobs. Thanks for your time

  • urbanphotos profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    That isn't true. The tunnel takes you 2 mile south of Mandalay Bay so you have to double back which adds 4 miles to the trip, at $2.60 per mile. You're a ripoff cab driver. Get a different job, you obviously hate this one.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    did the driver ask you permission to use the tunnel and advise you of the price difference ? do you realize that there is times when ( food stamp ramp ) swenson to Tropicana is a parking lot of traffic ? did you know that airport via tunnel to mandalay bay is 8 minutes faster and only a whopping $ 2.00 extra ? oh who cares... we don't need more cheap tourist that a : ) to get ripped off on the strip and cry about $ 5.00 to $ 10.00 on a meter. JUSST STAY HOME WE DON'T WANT YOU

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Thank you for this. I've been ripped off too many times. It's great to know my recourse. I will also try to take the shuttle. It may take longer but I'm tired of being taken advantage of.


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