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Optimized Baggage Handling System

Project description

In collaboration with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Port of Seattle will begin construction of an optimized outbound baggage handling system (BHS) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The new system will replace the aging conveyor system now in place and allow the airport to meet current and future growth.

Existing baggage handling system

These colors represent the six outbound systems with limited to no cross-connectivity

current separated baggage handling systemInternational traffic increases of nearly 10 percent each year for the last two years (2014-2015) and the steady rise of domestic passenger flights has combined to caused the existing baggage handling system to reach capacity. The remaining portions will run out of space within the next five years.

The new baggage system will ensure reliability, flexibility and efficiency for airlines, passengers and the TSA, allowing outbound bags from any ticket counter to be sent to any gate while saving energy and ensuring bags are safe to load on the aircraft. These results will also advance the port’s Century Agenda strategy of doubling the number of passengers over the next 25 years.

Outbound baggage system handling flow - current and future

Optimization allows bags from any ticketing counter to get to any gate in the airprot.

Baggage handling system facts

  • Sea-Tac was one of the first airports to meet 100% inline screening requirements instituted by TSA after 9/11.
  • In 2015, the airport served over 42.3 million passengers and processed 37 million bags.
  • By the end of 2016, it is projected to handle 45 million passengers and process 38 million bags. A peak day served 140,000 passengers and 123,000 bags.
  • In 2034, the airport will process 66 million passengers and 60 million bags.

Points about the existing baggage handling system

  • The current system has 10 miles of conveyor belt, 3,000 motors and 28 CTX machines.
  • Six independent baggage systems in the airport serve specific airlines.
  • The existing baggage systems were reconfigured from 2001 – 2004 following the TSA mandate for universal bag screening before departure.
  • Industry best practices and screening technology for processing bags has changed rapidly over the last decade.
  • The expected life of a conveyor without refurbishment is 15 years.

Points about the optimized baggage handling system

  • The optimized system will be designed within the existing space using an equal amount of conveyor with multiple bag routes and increased belt speed to maximize the capacity.
  • One consolidated system will replace six separate systems.
  • The new system will:
    • provide flexibility in airline ticket counter use and related gate assignments,
    • reduce screening machine demand,
    • save energy through use of the latest technology, and
    • be designed with the ability to expand capacity up to 66 million annual passengers.
  • Multiple bag routes will increase reliability by eliminating single points of failure.
  • The new system will be designed and managed using the latest 3D modeling and coordination software.

Estimated project costs

  • The total project cost over approximately ten years is estimated to be $320 million. TSA will fund $93 million of the project.


Design complete​ ​Q2 2016
Construction start phase​ I ​Q2 2017
​Phase I in operation ​Q4 2018
​Full construction complete ​Q2 2023

Resources for contractors

Please note: the documents below are very large PDF files and may take from a few minutes to much longer to download depending upon server speed and other variables. The size of each PDF is noted next to the link. 

Architectural Drawings

100% Architectural Drawings

Baggage Handling System Drawings

110% Baggage Handling System Drawings

Electrical Drawings

100% Electrical Drawing

Mrechanical Drawings

100% Mechanical Drawing

Structural Drawings

100% Structural Drawing