Las Vegas Airport Will Be Renamed After Harry Reid

Filed Under: Misc.

It looks like Las Vegas McCarran Airport will soon be renamed Las Vegas Reid Airport…

McCarran Airport will become Harry Reid Airport

The Clark County Commission has this week unanimously voted to change the name of Las Vegas International Airport — Las Vegas McCarran International Airport will soon be known as Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport.

With this vote, the county is directing airport staff to file a change with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to rename the airport. The Clark County Commission has the final authority here, as it oversees the airport, so this is more or less a sure thing.

The FAA now has to take the steps to process the name change, which is expected to take a few months. Rebranding the airport will cost millions of dollars, though taxpayers won’t be on the hook for that. Rather the rebranding will be paid for entirely through private contributions.

Why is Las Vegas Airport getting a new name?

Why is Las Vegas International Airport being renamed? For some context:

  • Patrick McCarran was a Democratic US Senator from Nevada in the years 1933 to 1954
  • Harry Reid was a Democratic US Senator from Nevada in the years 1987 to 2017, and he served as Senate Majority Leader in the years 2007 to 2015
  • There have been calls for a while to rename the airport due to McCarran’s anti-immigration and anti-Semitic views
  • Meanwhile Reid has been a popular politician in Nevada, and in many ways has elevated Nevada’s political standing nationally

Reid issued the following statement following the Clark County Commission’s decision:

“It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Commissioner Segerblom, the entire Clark County Commission, and the many others who have played a part in this renaming.”

Should airports be named after politicians?

Discussions about this will probably very quickly start to revolve around “cancel culture,” but let’s talk about this bigger picture. With few exceptions, I’m not a fan of airports being named after people:

  • Why can’t we just call it Las Vegas International Airport, especially since Las Vegas is a city with only one major international airport?
  • It’s one thing to name an airport after someone a vast majority of people can agree on (like Martin Luther King), but to me it’s a bit different to name an airport after a politician
  • At some point this just comes down to partisan commissions ruling in favor of one politician over another, and is that really a rabbit hole we want to go down?

Sure, I can appreciate that Reid has a better legacy than McCarran (and for good reason), but personally I wish we could just stop naming airports after people unnecessarily. That’s just me, though…

Bottom line

In the coming months Las Vegas McCarran International Airport will be renamed Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport, following a vote by the Clark County Commission. That’s fair enough given McCarran’s legacy, though I’m still generally not a fan of airports being named after politicians.

What do you make of McCarran Airport being renamed as Reid Airport?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. The only cool airport name after a politician is New York JFK. All other airports should just be called by the city or suburb.

  2. Reid has a better legacy?? He is quite possibly the most anti-gay politician in US history. Reid said he believes “marriage should be between a man and a woman” when he voted FOR DoMA. His name represents homophobia and shouldn’t even be written on a toilet seat, much less an airport.

  3. Harry Reid-typical blowhard politician. Name it after Moe Greene, he was the character in the Godfather that put Las Vegas on the map.

  4. If they can change the name any time, they will rename it again when local politics changes. Maybe it will become the Rush Limbaugh International. Or Tucker Carlson International.

  5. My home airport, ROC, also announced a name change recently, after the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. He’s also more or less a politician, but I guess few people will take objection to this change.

  6. Nothing like an old-fashioned hot cup of Lucky being incredibly reasonable and non-partisan. Could you imagine flying from Trump International in Alabama to Obama International in Chicago? The world we live in today is way too political for this. JFK will be renamed in 2068 because he ate meat or owned a dog or something.

  7. This renaming of stuff is just getting ridiculous. STOP naming everything after a person in the first place! The skeletons always come out later and besides, not everyone may agree a person is ‘worthy’ of such a thing to begin with. Imagine the amount of money that could be saved by just avoiding this naming mess altogether…

  8. I agree that it is a mistake to name things after people. Maryland has one of the longest names possible for an airport –

    “Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport”

    Everyone refers to it as BWI. No insult to Thurgood Marshall but it is just makes no sense to name things after people, especially after it has been known as something else for decades.

  9. Agree with you Ben, leave the personal names out of it. Sitting at SEA-TAC Alaska lounge right this minute and this airport has a perfect name for its location, instead of something divisive.

  10. Airport washrooms should be named after politicians:
    “I just took a piss at Donald Trump near gate 56!”

  11. Yes – in today’s world we must adopt the current fad. The current fad is to apply the ‘mores’ of today (or the last 15 minutes at least) to events in our far distant past.

    In Canada, for example, the cancel culture (or radical left as they usually are defined) are defacing and tearing down statues of the country’s founder Sir John A MacDonald. The main reason is blaming him for trying to assist the integration of Indigenous People into society through Residential Schools. Unfortunately these schools were generally run by religious organizations who have been exposed a centers of racial, sexual and physical abuse. (But that’s the rub, placing blame in the wrong place)

    At the time it was thought to be a very positive idea. Remember – Canada was a British Colony and EVERY MALE BRIT went to a Residential School from age 7 or 8 until about 16 or 18 “to make a man of him”. Such horrible places as Eton for example. So of course they thought it would be a wonderful success story.

    At the time it was seen in a very positive light. Many Canadians who lived through the Residential School period went on to become very successful and are not totally negative. For others it was a nightmare. But it was done with good intentions and it is unreasonable to apply today’s new world ideas to yesterday.

    Although the Residential Schools are despised today by the left there were other residential schools that were in operation up to the 1960’s that were not Indigenous but were for other societies. These are never mentioned.

    So changing the name as the flavour of the week is unfair to the real understanding of history.

    You cannot keep re-writing history and retain your societal knowledge and culture.

    Changing the airport name on a whim is farcical and childish. Perhaps in an example of the American Way the name on the airport should be on a computer driven display and should be decided by voting at every civic election. That would be so democratic.

  12. Until something the good senator did years ago doesn’t pass muster and they change it again.
    I’m with you Lucky lets not name things after politicians

  13. “… but personally I wish we could just stop naming airports after people unnecessarily. That’s just me, though…”

    No, it’s definitely not just you, Lucky. I agree. “Las Vegas International Airport” would be just fine, TYVM.

  14. The Donald Trump Terminal at Rush Limbaugh international airport .

    Believe there was a plan to name LAX after James Stewart in 1997.

  15. This is almost a strictly local matter. Kinda like what color you pick for your furniture. Let’s face it, you will be flying to either “Las Vegas” or “LAS.” Few, if any, remember that they fly to McCarran. So you don’t care. If the local think it’s worth their while to rename it, well, let them. If you want to change your furniture color scheme from mid-century to modern, well, have fun! I neither care nor really have a say there.

    Same thing here. Let Vegas people do what they like. Why do you care? It’s *their* tax money, no?

  16. Not a fan of airports being named after politicians. Japan, China and South Korea come to mind with their airports not being named after politicians (Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Beijing-Capital, Seoul-Incheon, etc.).

    Leave LAX, SFO, SEA, etc. as it is.

    My one question is how do you name multiple airports that serves one region or city a la JFK, LGA, etc. without naming them after politicians?!

  17. It’s a bit like the U.K. where a public competition to name their new Antarctic Survey vessel ended up with the name Boaty McBoatface. The power of social media. Luckily sense prevailed and it ended up with a more conventional name that stands the test of time

  18. Nothing more than cancel culture. Patrick McCarran was one of the proponents of the Airforce and sponsored the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 and the Federal Airport Act of 1945. You know things that actually have to do with aviation. He was also the first senator from Nevada to have been born there.

  19. I am with Claus, No politicians on airport names. However I do like John Wayne, Orange County, Santa Ana Airport. Except now somebody has a problem with the name John Wayne and they have petitioned to have it changed again.

  20. @Mike O.

    It reminded me that Chinese gov should really have named Beijing-Capital as Beijing Chairman Mao International Airport


  21. @ICARUS —

    You should know your history better — Jimmy Stewart was a decorated WWII bomber pilot in in the US Army 8th Air Force sited in England during WWII, suffering 1/2 of the US Army Air Forces casualties during the entire war (including as well the Pacific theater) and suffered 26,000 combat deaths — those missions were extremely dangerous — watch the movie Memphis Belle with Harry Connick, Jr and educate yourself.

    He could have stayed home and just made movies, but he entered the military even before Pearl Harbor.

    In addition, Jimmy Steward was the Tom Hanks of his era and performed in many seminal movies, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” one of the Christmas movies of all time. He is much more deserving of having the airport named after him, as opposed to just another politician, like Tom Brady. See:

  22. There’s an apocryphal story from my university about naming a building. Back in the 90s, the students union wanted to come up with a name for its building and so they polled the student body to see who they wanted to name it after. The overwhelming response was to name it after William Shatner, among the most famous alumni of the university. The SU duly agreed and went to the university, which technically owned the building, to change the name from the bland “Student Services Center” to the Shatner Building. The university responded that they had a policy to only name buildings after dead people or those who had donated a significant sum to the university. So, they approached Shatner for a donation. He responded with a $50 bill in the mail and the irked university denied the name change request. The thing is though, the student’s loved the name so everyone just called it the Shatner Building thereafter, and while on official maps and labels it was “Student Services Center”, according to the Student’s Union it was the Shatner Building. William Shatner himself eventually visited the building and was very pleased to see his name on an interior sign the SU put up.

  23. San Diego Lindbergh Field International Airport, named after the famous aviator, has it’s critics given his perceived sympathies with Nazi Germany. With the exception of the two NYC airports, I refer to just about all by locations, not by names.

  24. @The Original Donna

    Does that include Chicago and DC? Not sure how you can refer to O’Hare and Dulles just by location lol

  25. Naming airports after someone should come when they pass on not when they are living. This will eliminate many of the concerns about current favoritism. I am indifferent as to naming them after people. I can see both sides but it is really up to the local jurisdiction. Yes mores do change and it is not always flippant “cancel” culture. He here in North Carolina we have a segment of the political universal that is trying to back pedal on teaching that slavery was not all that bad. Henry Ford is revered in automotive circles for his advances in car building – but if you study his biography he spent considerable time and money on advocating for what would today be considered abhorrent views. The marketing name may change but I don’t believe that the IATA code so it is purely semantics. And to the last point (and most important) it clearly states in the article that the costs of the name change will be entirely financed by private funds. So in the end who cares?

  26. I find it odd to name anything after a person who is still alive. In many countries, this is either against the law or against conventions. I can’t comment on whether McCarran or Reid should be memorialised like this or not, but I’m also conservative (in a cultural sense) and in general sceptical about changing well-established names.

    Agree with the above poster arguing against very long names. Madrid and Atlanta airports both have stupid long names nobody uses.

  27. @Roman,

    Do you remember when SeaTac was renamed for Sen. Henry Jackson after his death in 1983? After public outcry, particularly from the citizens of Tacoma who objected to having their city’s name removed, it was changed back a few months later.

  28. @Mike O – You are correct about Dulles (forgot about that one since I no longer use it) but I tend to refer to Chicago O’Hare as ORD, which is not the city admittedly.

  29. Not name one after a politician? Once National was named after Ronny Reagan, for my era at least, that train had left the station, so to speak. The idea of naming a public, government funded building after someone so hostile to government was beyond ridiculous. Strip his name off D.C.’s jetport and I may start to have sympathy for the anti-Reed sentiment.

  30. All I have to add is my dad, who is a strong Democrat, met Harry Reid a few times/had meetings with him when my dad was working at the Pentagon for a while in the late 90s I believe.

    He said Reid is the dumbest person he’s ever met and he hated his guts LOL. I can’t wait to see what his reaction is to this.

  31. We should stop naming airports after politicians. Las Vegas International Airport would be a better fit.

  32. Thankfully the proposal to rename PHX Sky Harbor to Goldwater failed because of public opposition. Bad enough T4 is named after Goldwater. Sky Harbor is a great name!

    I can’t call DCA “Reagan”…

  33. The truth is there are very, very few heroes in history that resemble what is written in a text book or a children’s book. Look at any perceived “hero” and you find lots of nasty stories. It goes with the territory. If you’re motivated enough to be in a history book more than likely you’ve done some pretty horrific things. Sorry this did not start with Donald Trump despite what Nancy Pelosi would like you to believe. And it won’t end with Donald Trump.

    So naming an airport (or other like facilities) for a politician/celebrity isn’t probably a good idea. Name if after the city or region.

  34. Another stroll down the university buildings tangent. When I was at the Australian National University in the 1970s they built a new residential college next to the creek that flows through the campus. The other colleges were named after various notables, but somehow the name of the new one was determined by students. With its location, the willows along the creek and the students buried like moles in their little rooms it was, and still is named Toad Hall.

  35. In 2012, on the floor of the United States Senate, Harry Reid said about Mitt Romney…
    “The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t,”
    I’m not defending Mitt Romney in any way. The point is that he blatantly lied about Romney, and he new that he would be protected because he was covered by a politician making a false statement protected by political speech. He knowingly lied and he still has not apologised for his calculated act.
    Reid is one of the most deplorable politicians that has ever occupied an office at our nation’s capitol. I cannot think of anything short of a septic system that should be named for Harry Reid.

  36. Ben, curious to know how far that logic goes. The Department of Labor is housed in the Francis Perkins Building, the first female Secretary of Labor. Does the significance of the individual, combined with the passage of time (she was early 20th Century) make naming after a person less objectionable? I can certainly see the ‘partisan’ argument working with a contemporary politician…

  37. dee says:
    February 17, 2021 at 5:25 pm
    Insane and the TAXPAYERS$$$$ being wasted on this is even worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you’d read the the article you’d know that’s incorrect

    “… though taxpayers won’t be on the hook for that. Rather the rebranding will be paid for entirely through private contributions.”

  38. One of the most deplorable politicians of all time. I’ve been to Vegas once and that is more than enough. Will make sure I never land at that airport again.

  39. Jeez, all these conservatives decrying Harry Reid when the Republicans went around naming landmarks in DC after their patron saint Ronald Reagan. Where was the uproar when Anchorage airport was renamed after Ted Stevens? Forget about being dead: Stevens hadn’t even retired from the Senate yet when they did it.

    On a more serious note, a politician’s local reputation is often very different from their national reputation. Most people only know of Reid as the Democratic Leader in the Senate. But he’s an icon in NV, and was part of their state politics long before he became senator. I’m not saying that automatically qualifies him to have an airport named after him. Just that, I would defer to the local govt to name their landmarks after whomever they want. I don’t begrudge Alaskans naming their airport after Stevens, and don’t really mind if NV names theirs after Reid.

    And in 50 years if someone else comes along who’s worth honoring, then change the name again. Big deal. It’s not like someone is accidentally going to end up in Reno because they don’t know which airport serves LV.

    (Fwiw, I do care about DC landmarks being named after Reagan because that was done by Congress, not the local DC govt, which, as you’d probably guess, despised Reagan. That was the opposite of honoring popular local politicians).

  40. @Mike O: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, London Stansted… The Brits managed to have a bunch of airports for the same city without naming one after a person

  41. In China, naming streets, cities, airports, rail stations, etc. after politicians has been banned since 1949, and such ban was written into law in 1986.

  42. @Claus: Actually London Stansted was named for Stan Sted, a 19th century junior minister for carriages and tack. Also, I believe that London City was named for the soccer team, Manchester City. It’s that wry British humor, I guess.

  43. Meh – airport naming controversy has nothing on Miami area street naming controversy where we have street signs with up to 3 names for the same street. And the names can change midway down the street.

  44. Clearly the solution is to name airports after fictional characters.

    LAX = Ted Striker International Airport
    PIA = Rocky Balboa International Airport
    DTW = Robocop International Airport

  45. Liverpool John Lennon Airport – Liverpool, UK
    Louis Armstrong International Airport – New Orleans
    Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield – Doncaster, United Kingdom
    Wolfgang A. Mozart International Airport – Salzburg, Austria
    Warsaw Frederic Chopin International Airport – Warsaw, Poland
    Giuseppe Verdi Airport – Parma, Italy
    Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport
    Leonardo da Vinci – Rome (Fiumicino)
    Marco Polo Airport – Venice
    Franz Josef Strauss – Munich International Airport
    George Best Airport – Belfast
    Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
    Tom Jobim – Rio de Janeiro International
    Its not so dificult…

  46. I imagine it takes lots of money to rename an airport (or school for that matter)…why? why??? isn’t it better to spend money for something more useful?…if those who voted to rename paid for it out of their pocket, they would have thought twice…but taxpayers’ money – who cares…awful…

  47. They *DID* pay for it themselves. Only private funds were used no taxpayer dollars. It was stated right in the article.

    I imagine it takes lots of money to rename an airport (or school for that matter)…why? why??? isn’t it better to spend money for something more useful?…if those who voted to rename paid for it out of their pocket, they would have thought twice…but taxpayers’ money – who cares…awful…

  48. I was flying from BKK to BOM and the FA had to ask me to practice the name Chattrapati Shivagi Maharaj airport with her so she can get it right on announcement.

  49. @rich I’m from Boston and we call ‘Boston Logan Int’l Airport’ Logan Airport, or just Logan. It depends on the place.

  50. I do not know why we need to name any public buildings after anyone or any company. Seems like everything is named after Ronald Reagan (naming an airport after him is a bit ironic). Also naming sports stadiums after corporations is annoying when the bulk of the funding tends to come from taxes. The strangest part of this news is that Harry Reid is still with us. I would be embarrassed if they tried to name an airport after me and I am still alive. Unless of course I am Donald Trump. Then I would expect every building and street named after me.

  51. In Boston as well. To locals it’s “Logan”. Perhaps because the official name does not include the city name at all:

    General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport

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