Burning Man ‘Burners’ Push Reno Airport to Its Busiest Days of the Year

Sep 3, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is doing its part to safely send home many of the 80,000 people who’ve been partying on the playa at the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles from Reno.

Between Labor Day and today, about 20,000 of the “Burners” — as festival goers are known — are joining regular holiday travelers and weekday commuters on flights out of Reno (RNO), which will experience its busiest travel days of the year.

Burners arrive from the playa by shuttle bus, car or charter plane tired (from all the partying), covered in gritty desert dust (it gets everywhere) and, due to the festival’s “Leave No Trace” policy, toting everything from bicycles, costumes and bags of garbage that need to be discarded.

A pair of 'Burners' arrives to Reno's airport with their belongings from the playa. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)
A pair of ‘Burners’ arrives to Reno’s airport with their belongings from the playa. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

 

RNO welcomes the departing Burners with giant trash bins, extra cleaning crews and customer service staff. There’s also a Burning Man art exhibit and the Paws 4 Passengers team of therapy dogs. The local Kiwanis Club has a special area where the bikes Burners have used to get around the playa can be donated and passed along to local community groups. And airlines have rolls of large plastic bags on hand so every dusty suitcase can be covered.

“It’s a busy time, but we’ve got it down to an art that’s been honed over the years,” said RNO airport spokesman Brian Kulpin. “We get passengers heading to 34 different countries through the airport quickly and efficiently. And we make sure everyone has a good time.”

One of the Burners passing through RNO airport on Monday was Luliia Kuznetsova, who was on her way to San Francisco to catch a flight back to Berlin after attending her second Burning Man festival.

“I have dust everywhere. Inside and out. Everyplace,” she laughed. “I came on the bus in a fur coat and leggings because it was cold this morning on the playa. Now my suitcase is open here on the sidewalk while I put those clothes away and change to the t-shirt and shorts I have on underneath.”

Luliia Kuznetsova, who was on her way to San Francisco to catch a flight back to Berlin, passes through Reno's airport after Burning Man. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)
Luliia Kuznetsova, who was on her way to San Francisco to catch a flight back to Berlin, passes through Reno’s airport after Burning Man. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

Burning Man is not only RNO’s biggest event of the year, it is the most lucrative. It brings in approximately $11 million from airplane ticket sales, food and other items sold in the airport, transportation and even slot-machine revenue, said RNO’s Brian Kulpin.

“Next year we’ll recalculate that,” said Kulpin, “because we have more charter flights going to the playa from RNO from the private side of the airport.”

Kulpin says many burners will fly in on a commercial flight, take an Uber or Lyft ride around to the general aviation side of the airport and then take a helicopter or twin-engine propeller plane from the airport to the Burning Man desert landing strip on the playa.

“A couple of thousand people do that,” said Kulpin. “Mostly from the European contingent.”

Reno's airport has trash-disposal boxes for Burning Man attendees returning to civilization from the 'playa.' (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)
Reno’s airport has trash-disposal boxes for Burning Man attendees returning to civilization from the ‘playa.’ (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

 

The bike-drop area for Burning Man visitors catching flights home from the Reno airport. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)
The bike-drop area for Burning Man visitors catching flights home from the Reno airport. (Photo from Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

 

All photos courtesy of Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.