By Eric Toler, SEA Manager of Air Service Development
We know that you’re ready to go go go and you’re not alone. There’s renewed enthusiasm for international air travel, as COVID-19 restrictions gradually come down across the globe, airlines add new international services, and SEA opens the new International Arrivals Facility. As you get ready jet off for that international trip, keep reading to learn more about international travel at SEA.
1. People are ready to travel and will take three more vacation days this year
U.S. airline executives are nearly unanimous in their rosy outlook for summer air travel demand. In an April 2022 statement, United Airlines’ CEO Scott Kirby said the demand environment is the strongest he’s seen in his 30 years in the industry, while Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian said “the demand environment we have today is at a historic high”.
We also know that after months and years of postponing international trips, people are revisiting those plans. According to research by Expedia Group, working adults around the world plan to take 21 days of vacation this year on average —3 more days than in 2021.
Domestic leisure travel is booming, but long-haul international travel is still in a nascent recovery as COVID restrictions have lingered in many countries.
2. SEA Airport now has more international services than before the pandemic
The lowest point of international travel was just 11,000 international passengers at SEA in May 2020.
- April 2022 saw more than 322,000 international passengers pass through SEA, down 31% from April 2019 before the pandemic
- In summer 2022, SEA will have 43 international services compared to 42 in 2019 before the COVID pandemic
- A “service” is a unique airline/destination combination. For instance Delta to Tokyo and Japan Airlines to Tokyo are two separate international services
- By this summer SEA will have 24 airlines serving international destinations, up from 22 in 2019
- Airlines that discontinued service to SEA during the pandemic (such as Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific) have been offset by new carriers like Qatar Airways and WestJet
- By this summer SEA will have service to 28 unique international destinations, up from 26 in 2019
- Turkish Airlines launched service to Istanbul on May 27th and on June 1st Air Canada launched service to Montreal and Finnair launched service to Helsinki
- In October of this year, Air Tahiti Nui will launch nonstop service to Papeete, Tahiti, which will become our airport’s first destination in the southern hemisphere
3. Each new international service brings 100 new jobs to the region
International flights are not only beneficial for travelers who use them, but for the people and businesses of our region. A 2018 economic impact study shows the statewide impacts due to the onsite activities associated with a new international service: an estimated 100 jobs, $6.1 million in labor compensation, and $22.7 million in business revenue.
Separately, visitor impacts from a new international service include 400 jobs and $51.3 million in business revenue. In short, new international services bring more people to our region —for business, leisure, and visiting family and friends — and generate demand for goods and services. From the airport cargo handling companies at SEA Airport to the food vendors at Pike Place Market, international visitors bring money to our region.
4. SEA has a beautiful new front door with the International Arrivals Facility
Summer is always a busy travel time for SEA, and this summer passengers and residents arriving from international destinations will get a beautiful welcome with the new International Arrivals Facility, the most complex project in the history of the airport. Welcome here, welcome home.
- Five Fast Facts about the IAF Pedestrian Walkway
- Fast Facts on the IAF Grand Hall
- How Do You Test an Airport Building?
- Share Your International Memories
- Bags First for International Arrivals at SEA
- International Arrivals Facility Is Fully Open
5. Take your pick of 28 international destinations just a non-stop flight away from SEA Airport
Learn more about SEA's growing international air service and start planning your next vacation!
- SEA the World Again
- Check out the route map for non-stop flights from SEA
- Read the Seattle Times article on 10 places to fly non-stop this summer