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Five Fast Facts on the International Corridor

September 29, 2021

Updated March 2022

The International Arrivals Facility (IAF) is the most complex capital development program in the 71-year history of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). When it’s open in spring 2022, the facility will give travelers arriving from international destinations more space, a quicker entry process, and a more awesome experience. 

One important element is the International Corridor, a secure and window-lined walkway running along the top of Concourse A that will get international arrivals to the processing area securely and with a view of the airfield. The innovative design of the new International Corridor within the IAF allows us to upgrade eight existing gates to handle arriving wide-body international aircraft without constructing new gates. After opening, SEA will be able to operate up to 20 international-capable gates to support future growth in the region.

Major elements of the International Arrivals Facility - International Corridor, Pedestrian Walkway, and the Grand Hall
The IAF is made up of three major elements: the International Corridor, the Grand Hall, and the Pedestrian Walkway.

Here are a few facts about what’s coming soon:

1. The International Corridor will decrease wait times for arriving flights

When an international flight arrives, all passengers must be screened for entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. At SEA, all arriving international flights currently deplane at the South Satellite (SSAT) and are processed through Customs before making their way to baggage claim. During peak periods, aircraft and passengers could wait up to two hours for a gate. 

SEA Airport wants to provide excellent service and that wait time wasn’t good enough for us, so we developed solutions to create more international-capable gates. One challenge was to figure out how to move international travelers securely to the new Grand Hall where Customs will be located. 

Located along the west side of Concourse A, the International Corridor will allow eight existing gates to be used for international arrivals and reduce congestion at the SSAT.

The IAF International corridor is located above Concourse A and ties into the Grand Hall
The IAF's International Corridor sits above Concourse A. 

2. The International Corridor is a scenic and secure route to the Grand Hall

With the International Corridor, international arrivals are separated from domestic arrivals at Concourse A and passengers progress through a light-filled corridor with views of the airfield. International passengers arriving at A gates will head up a set of escalators, stairs, or elevators to the International Corridor. This elevated corridor has walls of windows, supports one-way directional travel, and leads passengers directly to the Grand Hall. 

Watch the video below to see a demonstration of the passenger journey. 

3. Swing gates nearly double international arrivals capacity

With the International Corridor located above Concourse A, we needed to upgrade eight existing domestic gates into swing gates. While most airport gates can handle either a domestic flight or an international flight, swing gates can handle both. Swing gates maximize capacity by accommodating domestic flights between international arrivals at the same available gates and more arriving passengers without the costs of building new gates. 

Visual of the 12 international gates at the South Satellite and 8 new swing gates on Concourse A
These improvements nearly double international-capable gates at SEA in 2021, from 12 to 20.

4. New doors go with the passenger flow

Another interesting feature of the Concourse A renovation is flexible doors that can accommodate the flow of both domestic and international arrivals. ‘Gatepods’ house the new swing gate systems and gate doors that control the flow of arriving passengers to the proper destination. The new system will route domestic passengers to Concourse A and international passengers one level up to the International Corridor. 

Diagram of swing gates on Concourse A - with international arrival pathway and domestic arrival pathway
Swing gates separate arriving domestic and international flights and accommodate multiple configurations.
Diagram showing the passenger pathway at Concourse A for an arriving international flight - going up one-level to the International Corridor
For an arriving international flight, exiting passengers will go up one level to the international corridor through vertical circulation (escalators, stairs, and elevators).

5. Even escalators take a nap to conserve energy

Each gatepod houses a staircase, escalator, and elevator to transport arriving international travelers up to the International Corridor. When they’re not in use, the energy-efficient escalator motors take a nap to save even more energy. This and other energy-saving features like LED lighting support the IAF’s goal of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) V4 Silver certification. 

Interior photo of the International Corridor showing the top of the staircase and escalator.
Energy-efficient escalators support the goal of LEED V4 Silver certification.

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