McCarran International Airport passengers landing on Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday are among the 322,000 travelers expected to visit Las Vegas this week. But airport travelers were met by a contingent of local workers protesting the treatment of catering employees.
About 50 airline catering workers and members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, both Nevada affiliates of the national Unite Here union, took part in the pre-holiday picket of American Airlines.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said the 322,000 expected tourists and other visitors in Las Vegas between Thanksgiving and Saturday represents a marginal increase of about 4,000 when compared to volume in 2018, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Also, about 95 percent of the 149,331 hotel rooms available in Las Vegas will be occupied during the holiday period, according to the LVCVA, KTNV reported.
Overall, Las Vegas is predicted to be the fourth-most popular US Thanksgiving tourist destination, based on AAA projections. That is one place higher than last year.
Aware of the busy airport, KSNV reported that some passengers landed at McCarran on Sunday to avoid travel days closer to Thanksgiving.
Busy Roads Predicted for Holiday
Many visitors will opt to drive into Nevada this week, with at least 180,000 tourists arriving by car, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Heavier than normal traffic was projected for today through Sunday, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), the Review-Journal said.
“We anticipate heavy traffic during the holiday weekend, especially along the Interstate 15 and resort corridor,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia told the Review-Journal. “As such, motorists should budget additional travel time to reach their destination while remaining alert to impaired drivers.”
Additionally, the region could get some nasty weather. Rain is forecast for Las Vegas today and on Thursday. McCarran spokesman Joe Rajchel told the Review-Journal, “There is always the chance for delays due to weather.
“With delays, though, it is relative to the individual passenger and where they are traveling,” Rajchel added. “If they are headed to a location with inclement weather, they could see a delay. We would recommend passengers monitor the status of their flight — which can be done at www.mccarran.com — or check with their airline if they have any concerns.”
Elsewhere in Nevada, a winter storm warning remains in effect today through Friday for the Spring Mountains, including Red Rock Canyon, the Sheep Range, Lincoln County, and parts of California above 3,500 feet, according to KTNV.
Snow is forecast for Thanksgiving afternoon in the mountains. One to two feet of snow could fall through Friday. Wind gusts are predicted to reach 45 mph. Travel into Mt. Charleston and Red Rock Canyon could be challenging.
Travelers to Las Vegas are expected to spend just over $232 million over the holiday period this year, which would also be a slight increase from 2018, the Sun reported.
Among those travel expenses are buying dinner for Thanksgiving Day. Casino.org published its “15 Places to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Las Vegas 2019” earlier this month.
Workers Demand Fairer Treatment
Meanwhile, catering workers are not expected to picket again closer to the holiday. The workers want American Airlines to pay food service employees higher wages and to provide adequate health care insurance.
The average wage of a local airline catering worker is $12.41 an hour. Fewer than 36 percent of workers had company health insurance in 2018, according to a union statement.
“Workers hope that by bringing their message to the many passengers travelling before Thanksgiving, they will motivate American Airlines to resolve the labor dispute,” the union said in a statement.
The workers are employed by third-party catering services, such as Sky Chef and Gate Gourmet, according to WSNV. They are hired by airlines to supply passenger meals.
In a statement released Tuesday, American Airlines said:
“We are confident that, with the ongoing assistance of federal mediators, the catering companies and Unite Here will negotiate new nationwide agreements that increase pay and benefits. We understand that new labor contracts between … Unite Here and LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet will result in increased costs for their many airline customers, including American.
“We are not in a position to control the outcome of their negotiations or dictate what wages or benefits are agreed-upon between the catering companies and their employees.”