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How Sea-Tac Airport Helps You Plan for Summer Travel

Update on the Port's COVID-19 response Learn more.

June 10, 2019

The summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the busiest travel season at Sea-Tac Airport. We expect 70,000 daily passengers to move through TSA checkpoints for most weekends in June, July, and August.

Our narrow main terminal serves more passengers today than it was built for decades ago, creating uncomfortable crowding during peak hours. With more than one million square feet at Sea-Tac Airport currently being built new or renovated, dramatic improvements are on the way for next year and in 2021. We need major investments to meet future needs for customer service, safety, sustainability and efficiency. The Port of Seattle and FAA are conducting an environmental review of more than 30 Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) Near-Term Projects that will do just that. Highlights include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover with three stations to connect the rental car facility, new terminal, and main terminal. Near-Term Projects will be complete or under construction by 2027.

In the meantime, you have a family reunion to attend. Here are tips to help you plan for summer travel and discover something new at our airport.

Look for our team in red and teal blue to help you find your way

Personal support

Sea-Tac hires additional summer staff to provide traveler assistance. Our team of FSS ambassadors in red and Pathfinders and volunteers in teal green can help with questions and directions.

We understand how stressful it can be to lose something precious – whether it is your phone, wallet or child’s favorite stuffed animal. We extended the hours of Lost and Found to now be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

New technology

New automated screening lanes make for more efficient divestiture — the official word for taking keys out of your pocket. The Port plans to install seven more automated screening lanes for a total of nine at the airport.

Additionally, there is new technology for automated checkpoint wait times to better estimate queues at Checkpoints #2, #4, and #5. The infrared system tracks those waiting in lines in real-time and these numbers are reflected in the flight information displays in the terminal and on the home page of the Sea-Tac Airport App. Checkpoint #3 will be covered by the system later this summer.

Download the Sea-Tac App in the iOS or Android app store for updates on checkpoint wait times.

More space at checkpoints #1 and #4

Construction is underway for two additional security lanes; one at Checkpoint #4 to be completed by mid-June, and one at Checkpoint #1 to be completed by early July. Other operational improvements include a better distribution of passengers throughout the terminal and improved passenger queue wait times for TSA Pre✓® (#1 and #4) and General Screening (#2, #3 and #5).

Improved transportation

Link light rail is by far the best option to stay out of a traffic jam. Don’t forget there is a shuttle cart that takes passengers from the Link Light Trail station at Sea-Tac Airport to the terminal. This free service helps passengers bridge the distance between station and airport.

Also, over the past year, a team of stakeholders involved with ground transportation have been working on Lean Process Improvement to find ways to ease the congestion on the airport drives. These efforts, such as redirecting app-based ride shares such as Uber and Lyft to drop off on the lower drive, improved the congestion on the Departures drive during the early morning hours by as much as 40 percent.

Skillet is located in the new N Gates

More dining options

Seven restaurants at Sea-Tac Airport offer mobile ordering apps that will get you fed, caffeinated, and on your way. If you’re flying a redeye, McDonald’s and QDOBA in the B Gates and Starbucks in Central Terminal are open 24/7.

Fifteen new restaurants opened at Sea-Tac this year! Lucky Louie Fish Shack™, Evergreens Salad, Pallino Pastaria, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, and Koi Shi Sushi Bento are new quick service eateries in the Central Terminal that are sure to satisfy every palate. Seattle Made in the C Gates is a one-stop shop for snacks, treats, and gifts all by local producers. Le Grand Comptoir is new to the C Gates, featuring hand-picked Pacific Northwest wines as well as sit down dining and bistro-inspired foods.

Other fresh additions include Caffe D’arte, Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, and Skillet that are serving up espresso, Vietnamese cuisine, and gourmet comfort foods in the N Gates. Also, later this year Concourse D will see the opening of Ballard Brew Hall and Poke to the Max.

Traveler advice

  • Security checkpoint wait times are unpredictable. Get here two hours ahead of time for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight.
  • Pack carry-ons appropriately to avoid delays with re-screening. Electronics larger than a cell phone must be removed from carry-on luggage and limit carry-on food items for faster screening.
  • Avoid driving to the airport. Link light rail is by far the best option if you want to stay out of a traffic jam. Public transit, taxis, airport shuttles, or rideshare vehicles are other great alternatives for driving to the airport. If you must drive, think opposite. In the morning, drop off passengers on the Arrivals level. In the evenings, arrange to meet your passengers on the Departures level. Going opposite gets you out of the traffic crunch.

No matter what’s important to you, we want to help plan your trip, be prepared, and discover something new! We’re ready to meet your travel needs with customized tools, must-have resources, Sea-Tac dining and shopping recommendations, and unique experiences that suit your interests and needs.

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