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Early Bird’s Guide to SEA

Update from the Port on the coronavirus response and guidance to travelers. Learn more.

October 28, 2019

While most of us would much rather be sleeping than heading to the airport in the wee hours, sometimes a morning flight can be your only option. Don't resign yourself to a miserable morning — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has many options for early birds looking for caffeine and a bite. Many restaurants and shops at the airport open at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., and some even earlier. Here’s a handy list for the next time you find yourself at SEA before the sun rises.

Early arrival

Just because you get to the airport at the crack of dawn doesn’t mean that you are the only one! In fact, early morning hours can be the busiest times for travelers. Plan to be at the airport two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before an international flight, just to be safe — checkpoint wait times during peak hours can be 45-60 minutes, so allow time to check your bags and find your gate. 

If you are driving to the airport, think opposite to avoid traffic on the drives! In the mornings, the Arrivals drive tends to be much faster, so get dropped off there and take a short escalator up to the ticketing level. Or, take Link light rail to avoid traffic all together and save money — remember to check the schedule in advance to verify the trains are running at your arrival time. Once you get off at the Airport stop, it’s only 379 steps to the main terminal.

Updated checkpoint wait times are displayed in the ticketing area of the airport, as well as on the Sea-Tac App. Ask the Pathfinder team in teal shirts to help direct you to the fastest line — surprisingly, the longer lines can be the quickest! For more information on checkpoints, check out our blog answering common checkpoint questions. If you brought coffee or tea with you to help wake up, make sure it’s gone by the time you reach TSA — don’t worry, there’s plenty more after security.

Early bird refreshments

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day! If you're on the hunt for something to eat or drink before your flight, there are several options in every terminal of the airport. Here’s a list of restaurants that are open before 7:00 a.m.:

Before Security

  • Alki Bakery, before security, open 24 hours
  • Starbucks, before security, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Urban Market at Baggage Claim, opens at 4:00 a.m.

Central Terminal

  • Dilettante Chocolates & Mocha Cafe, Central Terminal, open 24 hours
  • Pallino, Central Terminal, open 24 hours
  • Starbucks Evenings, Central Terminal, open 24 hours
  • Lucky Louie Fish Shack, Central Terminal, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Evergreens, Central Terminal, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Pei Wei, Central Terminal, opens at 5:00 a.m.

A Concourse

  • Floret, A1, opens at 4:30 a.m.
  • Starbucks, A3, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Tap & Pour, A5, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Manchu Wok, A5, opens 5:00 a.m.
  • Africa Lounge, A5, opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • La Pisa Café, A9, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Mountain Room Bar, A15, opens at 6:00 a.m.

B Concourse

  • McDonald’s, B1, open 24 hours
  • Qdoba, B1, open 24 hours 
  • Starbucks, B7, opens at 4:00 a.m.

C Concourse

  • Beechers, C3, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Starbucks, C9, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Le Grand Comptoir, C10, opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • Dish D’Lish, C11, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Waji’s, C12, opens at 5:00 a.m.

D Concourse

  • Stonehouse Café, D1, opens at 5:30 a.m.
  • Starbucks, D2, opens at 4:30 a.m.
  • Sports Page Pub, D3, opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • Camden food co., D5, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Starbucks, D5, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Ballard Brew Hall, D7, opens at 6:00 a.m.

North Satellite

  • Caffe D’arte, N13, opens at 4:30 a.m.
  • Skillet, N18, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Bambuza, N19, opens at 5:00 a.m.

South Satellite

  • Dungeness Bay Seafood House, S2, opens at 5:00 a.m.

Early bird shopping

Forgot your charger at home? Need to grab a client gift? Forgot your makeup? Here are the airport retailers that open before 7:00 a.m.:

Before security

  • Coach, Central Terminal, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Hudson, before security, opens at 4:15 a.m.
  • Hudson, before security/ticketing level, opens at 5:15 a.m.
  • Urban Market, near Baggage Claim, opens at 4:00 a.m.

Central Terminal

  • Hudson, Central Terminal, open 24 hours
  • Made in Washington, Central Terminal, opens at 3:45 a.m.
  • MAC, Central Terminal, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Fireworks, Central Terminal, opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • SubPop Records, Central Terminal, opens at 6:00 a.m.

A Concourse

  • Hudson, A4, opens at 3:30 a.m.
  • Swarovski, A5, opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • InMotion Entertainment, A5, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Hudson, A9, opens at 3:45 a.m.
  • Dufry Duty Free, A10, opens 5:15 a.m.
  • Hudson, A14, opens at 4:00 a.m.

B Concourse

  • Hudson, B6, opens at 4:00 a.m.
  • Planewear, B1, opens 6:00 a.m.

C Concourse

  • Hudson, C2, opens at 3:30 a.m.
  • Hudson, C9, opens at 3:45 a.m.
  • Seattle Made, C2, opens 6:00 a.m.
  • Terminal Getaway Spa, C2, opens at 6:00 a.m.

D Concourse

  • Affordable Luxuries, D1, opens at 5:15 a.m.
  • Dufry Duty Free, D1, opens 4:45 a.m.
  • Fireworks, D7, opens at 5:30 a.m.
  • Hudson, D6, open 24 hours
  • InMotion Entertainment, D6, opens at 5:00 a.m.
  • Urban Market, S2, opens at 4:30 a.m.

North Satellite

  • New Stand, N19, opens at 5:00 a.m.


  • Dufry Duty Free, S10, opens 4:45 a.m.
  • Hudson, S2, open 24 hours


Keep moving to stay awake. While you're waiting to board, check out a few new developments around the terminal! If you’re at the south end of the airport, watch the construction on the new International Arrivals Facility, including the large abutments that will hold a 900-foot-long glass passenger bridge that will tower 85 feet above the plane taxiway! See more

If you’re on the north side of the terminal, see the brand new North Satellite Modernization Project, which just completed Phase One. There are eight new gates, several fantastic restaurants, a gorgeous new Alaska Airlines lounge, and views of sunrise over the airfield. See more

Central Terminal is another great place to sit and enjoy the morning views with airplanes taking off and landing throughout the early hours. Sea-Tac also features some beautiful artwork, as there are over 60 art pieces throughout the airport. Learn more about all the pieces, such as the Talking Drinking Fountains.  See more 

If you have children, the Children’s Play Area is open 24 hours in between the A and B gates next to Qdoba — a great place to get out the wiggles before a long flight. See more

Or take advantage of our free airport Wi-Fi, nationally recognized as one of the speediest, and watch a movie or download a book! 

Too tired to navigate on your own? Download the Sea-Tac App to get walking directions on the interactive map.

 Top photo credit: Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

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