The Towns I Like, Las Vegas, NV – Stories From Home, A Podcast

*** SHOW NOTES ***

A first timer’s guide to flying in first or business class – The Points Guy

Here’s my Cliff Notes version of the post.

Before You Fly – One of the first things to do is check your baggage allowance when you make your booking. 

At the Airport – When traveling in business or first class, you’ll be able to bypass the long lines with priority lanes at both check-in and security.

In the Air – Don’t be afraid to ask for more — whether that’s asking for a wine top-up, snacks if you’re hungry, or even asking the crew if you could eat at a certain time instead of during service. Many airlines offer this dine-on-demand option, but they don’t always publicize it.

On Arrival – Depending on your destination and airline, there might be an arrivals lounge. They are great when you’re arriving in the morning after an overnight flight and would like to get freshened up and grab a second breakfast.

If it’s your first time flying first or business class congrats, enjoy it and travel shame all your friends left behind.…. But in the words of my 6th grade YMCA football coach…. And damn near every other sports coach on the planet….”when you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.” Substitute end zone for first-class or business class.. 

After 20 years of business travel, I’ve received various levels of travel seniority and at first, I was out of my element.  If you have no clue, a good rule of thumb is to look across the aisle and see what the other passengers are doing.

This past week I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Ryan Green. Clueless to Ryan’s identity, well so was I. It turns out that Ryan is the SVP & Chief Marketing Officer for Southwest Airlines, my airlines of choice. Turns out that Ryan was in a sharing mood, beginning with …..Dear Friend of Southwest®,

As summer moves into autumn and you consider your travel plans, we want you to know that we have your well-being in mind. We’re dedicated to finding ways to provide you a comfortable experience from check-in to baggage claim–that’s our Southwest Promise. 

There’s more to the email, but since Ryan is the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer I can assure that it all reads fluently and highlights the points Southwest wishes to get across. 

We put these points through the Marketing Speak to Travel Stories translator and these are the results.

  • Extra space onboard: We are keeping our middle seats open through November 30. Solid move and November happens to be the end of the Thanksgiving travel season.
  • Face coverings required for everyone ages 2 and up. Solid move, this isn’t about you and your personal freedoms this is about all of us stuck inside an aluminum tube.
  • Fresh air onboard: There is a complete exchange of air every two to three minutes while flying. I’m a road warrior, not a scientist but this has to be a good thing, especially if someone had burritos for lunch.
  • HEPA filters remove 99.97% of airborne particles¹ This is similar to technology found in hospitals and operating rooms. Again, I’m a road warrior, not a scientist but the whole 99.97% makes sense. If they had said 100% I would’ve called BS.
  • Extensive multi-layered cleaning program: Both an electrostatic disinfectant and an anti-microbial spray are applied on every surface of the aircraft, killing viruses on contact and forming an anti-microbial coating or shield for 30 days. Seems legit, remember I’m not a scientist.
  • We clean the aircraft before every flight: Sani-Cide EX3, a broad-spectrum disinfectant, is used to clean onboard lavatories and tray tables before every takeoff. With a name like Sani-Cide EX3 it’s gotta be more effective than anything you could buy at Bed Bath and Beyond. I’m here to tell you that Southwest can turn an aircraft quicker than a sad soul can kill germ.
  • We deep clean each aircraft, nose to tail, for 6-7 hours every night. I’ll take your word for it, I’m usually asleep at that time.
  • Ticket counters, gates, and baggage claim areas are cleaned multiple times a day. I haven’t been inside a terminal since March, so I’ll take your word for it.
  • No change or cancel fees – Ever. We understand the importance of flexibility. For 49 years and counting, we’ve never charged a fee just to change your flight. This is true, early March I cancelled a handful of scheduled flights with no penalties.

Labor Day Weekend Flight Destinations – TripIt

I’m a “Data Guy”, as they say, numbers don’t lie… not sure who they are but….

Residing in Florida here is what I love about Labor Day. For all of my northern friends, Labor Day is the end of summer as they winterize their boats, pools, and RV’s. For us Floridiots it’s the hope that the temperature will drop below 80 degrees in the evening. 

If you traveled over Labor Day, Here’s the data on the top three destinations year over year.

2019 Labor Day destinations

  1. Denver, CO
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Las Vegas, NV

2020 Labor Day destinations

  1. Las Vegas, NV
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Orlando, FL

 First shout out to O-Town, up from 14th place 2019 to 3rd place 2020. Wanna know why… O-Town is open for business. 

I’m recording this on Sunday, September 27th and our governor has moved us to a COVID phase 3.

Here are a few of the highlights

Bars and nightclubs – Full capacity can resume at these establishments once again but sanitation and other measures should be taken to stop the spread of germs. 

Restaurants – Full capacity and service can happen with limited social distancing protocols in place. 

Recreation – State parks, beaches, movie theaters, concert halls, playhouses, casinos, arcades and the like can fully reopen with limited social distancing measures.

Here’s the money shot, so to speak…….

Large sporting events and theme parks – All of Central Florida’s theme parks opened by mid-July with reduced capacity but come phase three, they can resume normal operations. Reducing capacity and limited social distancing is, however, recommended for large sporting events.

Up from 3rd place in 2019 to 1st place in 2020 is Las Vegas, and Las Vegas is tonight’s focus of the towns I like.

“Towns I Like” or towns that most people like would be incomplete if it didn’t include Las Vegas.

For years the Vegas slogan has been “what happens here, stays here” well it’s being replaced with “What happens here, only happens here.” The new slogan is weak and a sad excuse for anything Vegas related. Even if you don’t or won’t walk the what happens here tightrope it adds a bit of mystery or intrigue to anyone who visits.

Over the past few decades, I have no idea how many times I’ve been there, but they’ve all been for business, never pleasure…. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had fun.

First a few Las Vegas facts

  • Elevation: 2,001′
  • Population: 644,644 (2018)
  • Prostitution Is Illegal in Las Vegas. Spend any amount of time in a casino or stairwell you might question this.
  • There are over 150,000 Vegas hotel rooms.
  • With all the gambling in Las Vegas, you can’t buy a lottery ticket in Nevada.
  • It’s estimated that more than a thousand people live underneath the city of Las Vegas. They’re called Tunnel People and live in the 200 miles of flood tunnels under the city.
  • The famous Las Vegas Sign Isn’t Actually in Vegas
  • No matter what you weigh or what body type you have, you can wear a thong, Speedo, or bikini around the pool. I made that up, but it might be true.

Second, getting there.

It’s roughly a five-hour flight from Orlando to Vegas. Frontier, Spirit, and Southwest all fly direct. Your challenge will be getting a direct flight back home, and right now Frontier is the only one offering a red-eye direct. Leaving at 11:15 PM and arriving back here at 6:40 AM. The term “red-eye” derives from the symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused by fatigue. This flight will bang you up and can easily ruin the next day or two for you. In the past few years, I’ve opted for an early morning flight out and get at least one more night of sleep. When in Vegas I stay on East coast time, meaning I wake up at 3:00 AM and am normally in bed by 10:00 PM Pacific time.

If you choose to drive it will be a 2300 mile 33-hour 7 state odyssey. If I didn’t have a timeline and I had a decent sled I’d consider it and document the whole trip.

Third, where to stay.

There are multiple-choices, but only two really count, downtown or the strip. The distance is less than 10 miles but the experiences are vastly different. My recommendation is the strip because that’s where all the action is.

If you search average Las Vegas hotel prices in Google you will get over 16,000,000 results. There aren’t 16,000,000 hotel rooms in Vegas But the average room price will be right around $140.00. Looking to recreate The Hangover experience expect to pay a bit more. When it comes to Vegas you need to decide on the experience you want to have. 

My last trip, there was a conference that ended in the afternoon. I planned to catch the Penn & Teller Show that night at the RIO, so I decided to book a room at the RIO on my own dime or my own $120.00. At the Rio I not only checked myself in and also out. Even directions to my room were printed out, I never once spoke to an employee, like I said it’s all about the experience you want. The room was marginal, nothing like the MGM that I had stayed at the night before, and I didn’t make it to the Penn & Teller Show…. Dammit.

Fourth, what to do.

Gamble, and gamble a “S-Ton” . From the airport to, well damn near everywhere you will have the ability to take a spin, or stand on 16 or 17.

Food, the list is endless, and there are countless so use Yelp or Google reviews.

Honey Salt – What to order? The Brick Chicken $24. Chicken, hatch pepper chili mac ‘n cheese, plus broccolini and natural juice or as the fancy Au Jus. I’m sure there’s a brick used during the cooking process.

SW Steakhouse – Why, because we didn’t get fat eating carrots. Located in the Wynn hotel this is a steakhouse so go with the Bone-In Ribeye $86 or the New York Strip at $69

  • If you’re into bourbon check out the Bourbon Street Sports Bar or Herbs and Rye
  • Enjoy beer visit  Hop Nuts Brewing or Three Sheets Craft Beer Bar
  • Fan of cigars drop in at Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar or the Fuego Cigars & Lounge
  • For the most part, all of our vices are covered, hotels, food, gambling, libations, and other vices.

When it comes to Vegas I have a few  “givens”

Don’t plan on leaving here with your pockets stuffed full of cash. You might do well, but it won’t be like in the movies. The only reason this place exists is that the house always wins.

If you’re looking for a friend then bring your own. No “stranger” that you meet in a casino, bar, show, or restaurant has any genuine interest in you. Their interest is separating your money from your wallet. You don’t become good looking or interesting because you’re in the Pacific Time zone. Like McGruff, the crime dog says “Stranger Danger”. However, If you’re looking for some fun grab a handful of a friend’s business cards and hand those out to the “strangers”.

If you’re here for a convention or meeting that requires you to wear a nametag, take it off whenever possible. That nametag is a clear indicator that you were from out of town and an easy mark for the“strangers”.

  • If your hotel has a casino in its lobby your room is designed so that you spend as little time in it as possible. 
  • For starters, there won’t be a coffee pot in your room. The reason, if you’re in your room drinking coffee then you’re not in the casino gambling. 
  • Typically there won’t be a clock in your room, the reason… to take you off you’re game
  • The only consistency in hotel mattresses is that they’re all uncomfortable. Again, if you spend your time in bed you’re not gambling.

Next up, the minibar, which can empty your wallet quicker than the craps table. No matter how hammered you get, a $15.00 Bud Light at 1:00 AM won’t take you to that next level. Now there’s a science to these minibars, and it’s often in the form of a stopwatch. If you remove a bottle or can for longer than sixty seconds, you’ll be charged for it. That means you can’t remove all their items and fill the fridge with your own snacks. Doing this results in an instant $50.00 charge.

Here’s my Las Vegas Survival Guide.

  • Stay Hydrated – Drink water, it’s amazingly dry out here……. duh, it’s a desert after all. Bring some lotion for your skin as well.
  • ChapStick – pack it, you’ll need it.
  • Bring Snacks – Protein bars and cashews are a good start, both portable and tasty. Besides, that $13.00 can of cashews in your minibar isn’t worth it.
  • Shoes – If you’re here for a function or convention plan on walking. Wear something with a soft sole.
  • Jet Jag – I stay on east coast time. This means I wake up each morning at 3:00 AM, not the greatest but it gives me a few hours to catch up on work. I try to be in bed by 9:00 PM, Vegas time, so I get six hours each night.
  • Drinking – Minimal, even with an open bar. Jet Lag + open bar + zero Humidity = Rough Mornings. 
  • UBER – About $14.00 to the strip, much cheaper than a taxi, and you won’t need a rental.
  • Bring cash, hotel ATMs charge a huge service fee, and you get free advertisement for Gamblers Anonymous as you wait for your $300.00.
  • Ladies, bring your own because you probably can’t afford the homegrown variety.  
  • Gambling, the house always wins. There are books, websites, and movies that will outline this for you.
  • Have fun, and this one is easy, between people watching, shows, good eats & people watching LAs Vegas is the place.

If you have a comment you can leave a voicemail on Anchor or send me an email

Each day we’re getting closer to traveling and returning to “travel safe” until then stay safe and thanks for listening.

Find me on:

InstagramTwitterYelpUntappd or the Book-Of-Face