It’s no secret to long-time locals that the Reno-Tahoe International Airport may offer one of the best flying experiences in the West. Without fail, many passengers can move through ticketing, baggage check, and security in less than an hour on most days (though it’s still recommended to arrive two hours early).

Reno-Tahoe International Airport Authority’s team works hard to add new airlines to Reno, Nevada and find direct flights to sought-after destinations. And anyone coming into town for the first time, soon realizes how easy it is to pick up and bags and go straight to Lake Tahoe in about an hour as well.

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport opened its newly expanded Ticketing Hall, which added an additional 10,000 square feet of space, new bathrooms, more queuing space, and the airport’s first-ever public art commission. The $32 million improvement marks a significant milestone in the MoreRNO Infrastructure Program, demonstrating the Reno-Tahoe International Airport Authority’s commitment to preparing its facilities for future growth.

The new Ticketing Hall is just one part of a larger series of upgrades totaling $1 billion over the next few years. The projects will renovate the main concourses, ground transportation, the loop road, and retail spaces.

“This infrastructure program—the largest ever at the airport—will bring passengers more of what they love,” according to RTAA. “RNO will have more local restaurants, more shops, more space to park cars, more room to hug loved ones, more art from the thriving Reno arts scene, and more architecture inspired by the Reno-Tahoe region.”

Funding for the upgrades come directly from federal, state, and private funding, as well as bonds and airport revenue, according to the RTAA. The upgrades are not funded by any dedicated state or local tax.

So, what do locals and visitors have to look forward to and how do they navigate in the meantime?

The New Loop Road

The drop-off side (right side near the terminal) of the loop road was under construction for about a year and has now re-opened, closing the pick-up side (left side) for additional construction. So far that has not necessitated significant changes in timing, but the crowded lane should encourage pick-up drivers to use the cell phone waiting lot.

The cell phone waiting lot can be accessed immediately after the Interstate 580 special exit ramp. Drive down a lesser-known road toward the Nevada National Guard air base and follow signs to an extra-large parking lot. You can also find the parking lot from Terminal Way if approaching the airport on surface streets.

The RTAA says the $17.5 million road improvements will preserve the six travel lanes while improving safety, security, and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements on the curbsides and crosswalks.

Major Ground Transportation Upgrade

The second largest improvement involves a new $299 million ground transportation center. Currently, rental car pickup, long-term parking, and short-term parking live across the loop road from the terminal. This year, the RTAA plans to begin construction of a large parking complex meant to house rideshare, taxi, and rental car pick up north of the loop road.

The addition of the ground transportation center would allow the current parking garage and rental car service area to be converted to short and long-term parking, adding more than 600 new parking spots for those two uses.

Currently there are no changes to the pattern other than to navigate the loop road construction. Those 600 new spots are sorely needed as long-term parking fills up quickly during peak travel times.

Concession and Concourse Overhaul

The final stage of the upgrade will start later this year and in 2025. The RTAA seeks to increase the number of locally owned business tenants to fill out new and existing spaces available in the airport.

A $570 million overhaul to the concourses will provide 40% more food and retail spaces than are available now. In addition to the vendor improvements, the new concourse will look totally different, increase gate size to accommodate larger airplanes, and improve technology for flight scheduling and kiosks.

Concourse construction is likely a year or more away, so we will provide updates with how to navigate such a massive construction project when the airport provides more details and timelines.

The new RNO

When the airport renovation project is complete, it will likely look like a brand-new airline terminal. And it’s already easy enough to navigate, so imagine how much better it will look in a few years. Ideally this will attract more international and domestic flights, taking locals and bringing visitors from all over.

Frequent travelers can sign up for emailed updates at the bottom of the MoreRNO webpage.

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