If you have taken a taxi cab in Las Vegas you no doubt have heard the phrase long haul taxi scam. Or maybe you have heard people mention getting long hauled. The scam may also be referred to as being “tunneled”. The long haul taxi scam in Las Vegas entails a cab driver taking you from the airport or to the airport on a longer route than normal in order to charge you more for your ride. If you have prepaid for a limo or shuttle service the long haul does not apply to you.
The Long Haul Route
There are two routes out of McCarran International Airport. Swenson St which turns in Paradise runs somewhat parallel to the strip. You can cross over to the strip via streets like Tropicana. The Tunnels which go under the runways to the south connect to Highway 215. This is why being scammed is sometimes referred to as being tunneled. This route is often twice as long resulting in a larger fare. Take the route below to the Bellagio from Google Maps. The route up Swenson is 3.2 miles while the tunnel route is 7.7 miles.
If you go through the tunnel or end up on a highway south of the airport you are no doubt being long hauled. A recent taxi fair estimator website figures the above ride just over $20. If your ride ends up being much more and traffic is normal you could be a victim of long hauling.
When the tunnel route is justified
It is important to note that the “tunnel ” can possibly be a legitimate route depending on where you are staying. If you are staying at any of the southern hotels such as the Silverton then the route is preferred. This does not hold true for Mandalay Bay or the Luxor. The same can be said about staying downtown in the Fremont St area. If you are driving downtown you would likely want to take the highway and avoid the strip at all costs.
Depending on the time of day and traffic congestion you may want the tunnel. For example, if you are staying on the north part of the strip like The Mirage or Treasure Island. We have been caught in a couple of traffic snarls heading to Treasure Island / The Mirage. These could have been avoided going the highway route.
How to not get tunnelled
Act like you are a season veteran. Use Google Maps like we did above and plot your route out. Familiarize yourself with street names and the possible routes to the hotel. When you get in your taxi at the airport tell them that you want to take Swenson to Tropicana etc. If you tell the cab driver the route you want to go they must follow it.
What to do if you are a long haul victim
If you feel you have been long hauled you have options. Some travelers report that they have confronted the cab driver and told them flat out that they are not paying. Calling their bluff. I witnessed this at The Mirage one morning as we were heading back to the airport. A couple was long hauled first thing in the morning and had the bell employees help them confront the driver.
You can take a less confrontation route by filing an official complaint. You would do this by contacting the Nevada Taxi Authority at 702.888.4888. or by filing out an online form at “Long Hauling Suspicion Form”,