Las Vegas Plans To Rename Airport For Former Democratic Senator Harry Reid

A couple of weeks ago I flagged a movement to rename Las Vegas airport, ditching former Senator Pat McCarran’s name and replacing it with former Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s. Things have moved quickly, and Clark County voted to move forward and ask the FAA for its blessing to honor the retired Senate Democrat.

The strange predilection towards naming things for politicians – and living ones, no less – aside this is less about the powerful former legislator Reid and more about cancelling Pat McCarren for whom the airport is currently named.

McCarren was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Nevada between 1933 and 1954. He was the first U.S. Senator born in Nevada and served as the state’s former Chief Justice. He sponsored the 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act which created federal regulation of airline prices and routes (which lasted until the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act). In addition to Las Vegas’ McCarren airport there’s McCarran Street in northern Vegas and a McCarren Boulevard in Reno.

Though a Democrat, he was an opponent of Roosevelt’s New Deal. He was an admirer of Spanish fascists. And he was an anti-communist. He’s also one of the father’s of modern U.S. immigration law. Nevada’s Democratic U.S. House members have called McCarren’s legacy that “of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.”

Harry Reid has been perhaps best known in his post-Senate life for sharing that he believes in UFOs. And as Senator Majority Leader he got the highest-level classified briefings. Renaming the airport for him will not change its 3-letter code (LAS), but will incur expenses for rebranding and new signage, projected at $2 million to be covered by private donors.

Ultimately I’m not sure how much it matters, does anyone call Atlanta’s airport Hartsfield–Jackson? And how many of you know who they were without Googling? On a major news network this website was once referred to as View From The Right Wing yet I won’t call Washington’s National Airport ‘Reagan National’ (I lived in DC long before they renamed the airport for the nation’s 40th President).

I certainly don’t call airports by their full name, will always say I’m flying to or out of Las Vegas, and never refer to it as ‘Harry Reid airport.’ Will you?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Airports with names people actually use:

    As a New Yorker, I’ll start local:

    1) JFK (note: just the 3 letters as they do for LAX)
    2) LaGuardia
    3) Boston Logan
    4) Chicago O’Hare
    5) Chicago Midway
    6) Dallas Love

    It’s called San Diego International Airport now, but back in the day people called it Lindbergh Field.

    Airports with names that one NEVER really hears:

    1) As Gary noted, “Reagan National” instead of simply Washington National;
    2) “Hartsfield-Jackson” for ATL
    3) “Newark LIBERTY” instead of simply Newark Airport
    4) “John Wayne” (or “Santa Ana”) instead of Orange County
    5) “Bob Hope” instead of simply Burbank

    Perhaps there’s other airports with someone’s name included in their official titles, but other than TF Green in Providence, which I know of having family who live there – or Stewart International Airport about 60 miles north of NY City, which saw New York added to become NY Stewart International (instead of the more geographically ambiguous name it previously had) in recent years.

    But, so far as airport names go, there’s names that seem timeless, like “JFK”, “LaGuardia“, “O’Hare” “Heathrow” – and others whose names barely register in most people’s minds, like Hartsfield-Jackson, Newark Liberty and many others!

  2. He could of been a jerk but we may never know if we rely on the news media and social media for our information. No one is safe.

  3. Maybe naming things after people is just stupid? No person is perfect, obviously some more imperfect than others.

    While it was a noble intent, Maryland decided to name its airport Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport but no one calls it that. Instead it is just BWI.

  4. RE BWI

    Back in the day, before it was named after the distinguished SCOTUS justice, it was called “Friendship”!

  5. @DaninMCI

    True, we might not know what Mr. McCarran was like in-person. Also looks like we can’t ask him (without some novel technology involved). Doubt that he cares at this point what the airport is named.

  6. “Nevada’s Democratic U.S. House members have called McCarren’s legacy that “of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.”
    lol. You can’t be serious. That’s how democrats label EVERYONE who doesn’t agree with them. No debate, just skip straight to the name-calling.
    Anyway, Dems revere Reid for lying about his fellow Mormon presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, when he told the media he had close friends who know Romney evaded his taxes. Of course it was clearly a lie. After the election he was asked about this lie and instead of feeling any shame or regret, on the contrary, he was proud of his lie as his reply clearly showed: “He didn’t get elected did he?” But the Left see no problem about revering a blatant liar. As long as their lying benefits their side of course. They elected a documented/self-confessed plagiarist as POTUS for heaven’s sake! So they’ll try and get his name on a few airports and elementary schools too. Xenophobes aren’t good people. But liars are cool.
    As I always say, if it weren’t for double standards, the left wouldn’t have any at all. lol/smh

  7. I am just waiting for an ignorant idiot to propose changing DEL to Narendra Modi International Airport (while he is still alive) – after all Indira Gandhi International Airport is too much to stomach for the lumpen masses that now roam around India.

  8. @ Gary – Now you’ve got me curious. Do you advocate keeping airports named after fascist-loving anti-Semitic xenophobes or think cancelling them is a better option?

  9. @Brady

    Nice rant, but it makes little sense and you would probably defend the ex-liar-in-chief, POTUS #45, the man-child who told more lies than any politician past or present.

    Oh, by the way you LOST the election.. Hee-hee.

  10. Ok fine get rid of the name, but don’t replace it with any other name. Las Vegas International Airport is just fine.

  11. Why even Las Vegas International Airport? This international stuff is way overused.

    Las Vegas Airport is fine. Or Paradise Airport since it is in Paradise, Nevada.

  12. Don’t forget, it’s Houston Hobby, but Houston International, and not Bush.

    Of course, internationally, you’ll get better service if you call it Roissy rather than Charles de Gaulle.

  13. The Republicans cancelled the name of the airport with the code DCA by cancelling its name starting with Washington, when it was officially Washington National Airport, and instead displacing Washington’s name as a priority and putting Ronald Reagan before Washington.

  14. How about Howard Hughes Airport? He was a famous Vegas resident and certainly was a huge influence in matters aeronautical.

  15. How about they rename it to George Floyd/Fentanyl/DefundPolice
    International Airport……has a nice ring to it

  16. Why do Americans love to name things after living people? Can’t they find a dead Nevadan to name it after?

  17. @CHRIS – more like ProudBoys/QAnon/ThreePercenters/BoogalooBois/MarjorieTaylorGreene Int’l…all of America’s finest people. Probably would get a lot of Republican donations for the cause.

  18. I thought Atlanta was officially named ‘The Atlanta Hartsfield Michael and Latoya Jackson International Airport’? Man, we could really use a good George Stephanopoulos field, Michael Moore Regional, Joy Behar Sunport, Hillary Clinton Aerodrome, Mitt Romney/RINO International, or Obama Baltimore Marine Air terminal, amiright?

    Why named? Why can’t places just be called Chicago Airport? Atlanta Airport? Bangkok Airport? Why do we need named public schools? Why not just them numbers? Houston Public School #1, 2, 3 etc? Why are post offices named? Navy Ships? Instead of the destroyer USS Bainbridge, we could call her the “USS We’re going to turn you into a smoking crater”?

    More importantly why do you allow your politicians to waste time on this bullshit, instead of, you know, doing what they were elected to do?

  19. I think it’s fair enough nicknaming airports after local people. The nickname doesn’t have to be used all the time. It adds character and and builds a pride in a local brand rather than just repeating a bland city name. Airports could be nicknamed with historic events or local geographic features that distinguish a city’s reputation. Sacramento Gold Rush Airport or Las Vegas Red Rocks Airport for example.

  20. Hey Gary.

    If you’re so worried about the memory of Sen Pat McCarran, how about spelliing his name correctly in your story? You don’t even spell it consistently in your article.

  21. Gary
    I’m shocked that you “loved in DC long before they renamed the airport”. I didn’t realize you were such a stud, you da man, Gary!

  22. Harry Reid must have instructed his younger chronie policitian friend to try to get the airport in his name before he dies. After all, he has been the puppet master of Clark County for decades!

  23. For crying outloud, why don’t we just rename it Las Vegas International Airport? Everything gets political nowadays.

  24. Harry Reid should pay for naming rights like is done for stadiums. If he doesn’t pay, change the name for Las Vegas Reid International Airport to Laxalt International Airport in 2025. Laxalt was a famous Senator who Reagan wanted to pick as VP but was persuaded to choose someone other than a close friend.

    If you don’t know Paul Laxalt, look him up in Wikipedia. Some years ago, they said he died but that was some joke. Anyone can post on Wikipedia and change articles.

  25. I don’t think Harry did anything amazing to get that honor. He put someone up to this. How about naming a parking garage after him. “The Harry Reid long-term parking, while falling off your treadmill, garage.”

  26. @Bubba:

    “Don’t forget, it’s Houston Hobby, but Houston International, and not Bush.”

    You were right about everything, except the name of IAH. It’s Houston Intercontinental. That doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like international, but people still don’t call it Bush.

  27. Why do we name so many things after politicians? These are the same people who can’t get an approval rating above 20% Surely we can do better.

  28. Sorry Bubba, but while other lesser cities have international airports, Houston’s airport is Intercontinental.

  29. Leave it until somebody more noteworthy comes along. Replacing a negative connation with another exercise in futility.

    Until then, perhaps a rolling tribute to (in)famous ones like Bugsy Airstrip, Sigfried & Roy Flugplatz, (Elvis the) King Airfield, Le Cirque Aerodrome, etc??? LOL

  30. Many of us who live here in Las Vegas actually do call it McCarran, but just that. Not Las Vegas McCarran, McCarran International… But realistically, most people here use the name but have no idea where it came from or who he is.

  31. Pretty much every legacy UNITED front line airport worker called New York’s larger airport “KENNEDY” with emphasis rather than JFK back when they last served the airport.

    I’d say a lot of long time New Yorkers do as well.

    I think of McCarran and LAS – this whole removing of names is absurd.

  32. @Howard Miller

    A lot of OC locals call it John Wayne – since saying “I’m going to Orange County” doesn’t work since most locals saying that are ready in Orange County when they say it.

    And saying “the airport” is confusing with LAX nearby.

    People tend to say “Burbank” instead of Bob Hope because…not many Angelinos are in Burbank when they say it.

  33. @Howard Miller. you are WRONG. TF Green Airport is NOT in Providence. It is located 6 miles South of Providence in Warwick Rhode Island. If you had lived here you would know that. North of Warwick Is Cranston then north of that is Providence. You do not even fly over Providence to get to TF Green Airport. It was named after a State Senator. The Terminal was named after Governor who many residence consider a bag of loose nuts. He shot raccoons illegally at his house His 4th wife was killed by a car unexpectantly. his 5th wife was much younger then him. He was kicked out of a CVS store after hours trying to buy Forks after the store had closed.

  34. We need to change Washington DC, the State of Washington, Since Washington owned Slaves. All Indian names also must go since they too were murdered by the White man and had the land that they stole when they first came here themselves need to change. How Foxwoods Resorts needs to change since the Pequot Indians attacked and murdered the Narragansett Indians to get lands also.

    All Men are Sinners. The More they Talk the More Sins they are Hiding.

  35. Gotta go with Brady. Reid is a douche. Family ties with corruption. Sons were all on the payroll. Blatant lier. Democrats pushing as much graft as possible in next two years

  36. Brady-You are Totally correct…It is their way or you are racist!!! Harry Reidhead airport nuts …Nevada has gone to the other side tooooooo!!

  37. Come for the airline news stay* for the ignorant, racist rantings of extreme right wing fascists.

    *ignore and leave

  38. Take a clue from the most frequent flights out of the airport, the JANET flights. From now on it’s just another non-existent terminal.

  39. So this guy was a typical early 20th century Democrat but now the 21st century Democrats are upset. Why don’t they cancel the Democratic party for its evil.and racist past

  40. This is similar to a debate raging in Australia about Margaret Court ( née Smith), and the recent conferring of the top civilian honour ( in recognition of her pastoral care service, unrelated to tennis). There had been a previous campaign to delete her name from The Margaret Court Arena at our national tennis centre ( because of her outrageously awful anti-gay marriage campaign, including threats to boycott QANTAS in the context of Alan Joyce’s support of it).
    I’m not a fan of revisiting these decisions decades/centuries after the event, although in the case of Margaret Court , it’s a complete scandal that the ghastly bigot should have had this recent recognition in the honours system, and it should be rescinded .

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