February 19, 2019

Layover in Las Vegas

Layover in Las Vegas

February 3, 2019

After speaking at DevFestMN, I had another conference to go to - <c't webdev>. This event was happening in Cologne, Germany, so I had a somewhat long flight to take from Minnesota. The non-obvious part of the trip was a 7-hour layover in Las Vegas before flying to Germany. Every time I told someone about my itinerary, they were confused about why I would fly to the West, before flying to Europe.

There were two reasons: the flight was cheap, and I had never been to Vegas before. So, I had an excellent opportunity to enjoy the city during a day, and then get on a plane to Europe.

With this arrangement, I had two flights: one with the Sun Country Airlines, one with Condor; plus a 7-hour layover (about 19 hours travel time in total).

Sun Country Airlines Flight

This flight was way too early for my fragile sleeping habits. I had to wake up at about 4 am, and then take Lyft to the airport trying to make it 2 hours ahead of my flight.

Why, might you ask? Because Sun Country does not allow check-ins online. I thought it was kind of ridiculous in this day and age, but it became even more apparent issue after I got to the airport. The line was so long that I just could not believe what I was seeing. Apparently, Sun Country had multiple flights that morning, so with so many people not being able to check-in online, the problem was clearly called for.

Anyway, after only 40 minutes left before my flight, people who were travelling to Vegas were asked to step out of the line, and we got checked-in reasonably quickly. After breezing through security (thanks to TSA-Pre), I was ready for my first ever visit Las Vegas.

Arrival to Las Vegas

The flight was short (about 2 hours), and I was able to get some sleep. Thanks to my awesome setup made of my travel pillow (by TravelRest), noise-cancelling earmuffs, Brain.fm, and a sleep mask (by PolarBear).

With a refreshing nap I took on the plane, I was ready to explore the city. But before I can talk about my short experience in Vegas, I want to share about my hassle with the luggage.

Luggage

Whenever I travel, I only have my carry-on bag, and a very spacious backpack (Timbuk2 is awesome!). While I was alright walking on the Vegas Strip with my backpack, I did not want to drag my carry-on through the streets.

To temporarily get rid of my luggage, I had three options: try to check-in for my next flight, leave it in the lounge or find a storage service.

(Unsuccessfully) Trying to Check-In my Luggage

This was a quick “No” since my flight was not scheduled to depart for another 7 hours. As a result, Condor airlines (operator of my next flight) was not opened yet. With the chaos in Minnesota’s airport during the Sun Country’s check-in process, I did not want to hand over my luggage to them either. So, I was left to explore other options on how to handle my bags.

(Unsuccessfully) Leaving Luggage at the Lounge

One of the perks I enjoy while travelling is something called Priority Pass. With this pass, I get access to most of the airports’ lounges. Since lounges are usually a premium service, I thought to give it a try and ask whether I can leave my luggage with them.

Unfortunately, there was only one lounge at the Las Vegas’ airport, and it did not have luggage storage. Without such service in place, they refused to look after my belongings. Honestly speaking, I understand their reasoning – why anybody would take the risk of looking after your valuables.

After another failure, I had moved on to search for outside luggage storage.

(Successfully) Storing My Luggage at Bagbnb

Apparently, Las Vegas airport used to have luggage storages on-site but has discontinued the service not so long time ago. I was not able to find out why (and did not really care enough to google it), so I searched for the alternatives instead.

One such alternative was Bagbnb located at the beginning of the Vegas Strip. It is an excellent service where you go online, choose a period you want to store your bags for, and then drop off your bags at the address they provide you. I was sceptical of the service at first (especially a low price of $6 per day), but after doing some search on Reddit, I decided it is worth a try.

Long story short, I paid, got the address, and took Lyft to the location of the storage. When I arrived at the address, I thought it was the wrong place. The building in front of me was a motel.

However, after I went inside the motel, I was faced with a friendly clerk, who was happy to take my luggage and even gave me general directions to the city. As soon as I left the place, I got a confirmation from Bagbnb that they had received my bag.

With pretty good confidence in the safety of my luggage, I went on to explore the city. Overall, I would highly recommend Bagbnb to anyone looking to store their belongings for a short period (if you are staying longer, you probably can leave your bags at the hotel).

Las Vegas Strip

Although I found a place to leave my carry-on luggage, I still kept my backpack with all my valuables (laptop, passport, money, etc.). The bag wasn’t too heavy (around 8 kg), but after a few hours of walking, my back started to give in.

I am not a gambler, so I did not visit any of the casinos. Whenever I travel, I try to walk as much as possible, so I figured the best experience for me will be to walk through the Strip.

I have to admit that Las Vegas is very walkable. I could easily cross the street using the overpass, stop to take a picture and observe grandiose of very festive-looking buildings.

After seeing a couple of castle-like places, I felt like Las Vegas was if Europe turned all its historical buildings into shopping malls. While the architecture was definitely impressive, the insights were way too commercialized with stores, casinos and restaurants. I am sure some people enjoy it, but it is not to my liking. Regardless, I took some pictures of a few interesting places.

As I was getting tired to walk on the Strip with my backpack on my shoulders, I figured it was time to go back to the airport. I picked up my luggage (again, thanks to Bagbnb for their service), got Lyft to the airport, and enjoyed some time at the lounge. I am not a big drinker, and buffet that they had was too heavy, but at least they had fruits, so I had my fill.

Overall, I am glad I got to experience Las Vegas, even for a short time. Plus, I got to do some fast walking in between my flights which is always appreciated.

Note: If you want to see more photos from my Las Vegas stop, go to this album.