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How to be a Hero at the Airport

August 2, 2022

Picking up or dropping someone off at the airport goes beyond a casual favor. It’s an act of service to be the welcome home or bon voyage for your friends and family. It’s a heroic deed.   

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is in the middle of the surge and the squeeze of summer travel (Traveler advice). And that means congestion on the airport’s roadways during certain daily peaks.  

Just last week, close to 45,000 inbound vehicles were counted at the airport each day heading to Departures, Arrivals, or the parking garage. To put it into perspective, that’s almost the same number of people in a sold-out Mariner’s game at T-Mobile Park! 

Here are insider hacks to help you be a hero that saves time when you’re someone’s airport ride. And even make it easier on yourself. ?  

Heroes lead the way 

There can be long wait times on the drives into the airport during busy peaks, especially 5:00-7:00 a.m. for the upper-level Departures drive and 9:00-11:00 p.m. for the lower-level Arrivals drive.  

Roadway data
Data from the Port's Business Intelligence team shows the upper-level Departures drive is busiest in the morning and the lower-level Arrivals drive is busiest in the later evening. 

You instinctively head to Departures while dropping off travelers and Arrivals for collecting loved ones, even when there is a stretch of taillights all going to the same place.   

Totally get that — it’s the routine thing to do that feels natural. But there is a better way, hero.  

  • In the mornings, drop off passengers on the Arrivals Drive (the lower level) 
  • In the evenings, arrange to meet your people on the Departures Drive (the upper level)  

Either or, it’s just one level up or down for the traveler inside of the terminal and it gets you out of the traffic crunch. Many arriving passengers don’t check bags and are already on the Departures level when they exit. And that means an easy pick up. 

Waiting in line isn’t heroic so SEA also provides live feeds of the airport drives so that you can plan your departure or pickup by checking airport traffic conditions on the cameras.  

Lead the way. Switch it up to speed it up.  




A group waits for its ride at the airport Thomas Barwick, Instagram @barwick_photo
Image credit: Thomas Barwick on Instagram @barwick_photo
Heroes can also save the world by riding light rail (Sound Transit Tips). Join other heroes to battle carbon emissions and traffic congestion at SEA. 
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