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Pathfinders Answer SEA Travelers’ Questions

September 10, 2019

With 135 dining and retail options, and one million square feet being built new or updated, navigating the eighth busiest airport in the country can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone. The Pathfinders team, easily recognizable in their teal shirts, are here to answer your questions and get you on your way. These staff members can help direct you to the shortest security checkpoint line, help you find the nearest charging station, point you to the rental car shuttle, and more. Below, our Pathfinders tell us the most commonly asked passenger questions at SEA Airport. Use this information to help you navigate the airport and get to your gate as smoothly as possible.

Pathfinder in teal shirt

1.    Where is the shortest line? Why was I told to use this security checkpoint?

Pathfinders direct passengers to security checkpoints that they know will be the fastest option. The shortest line doesn't always mean the shortest wait time. Several variables factor into how fast the line will move, such as the number of checkpoint lanes open, use of canines to assist with screening, and more. The longest line can often have the shortest wait time and Pathfinders are constantly monitoring wait times so they can get you through security and on your way.

2.    Can I go through the same checkpoint as my friend even if we are departing from different gates? 

Of course! The terminal is connected once you get past security, so you and your friend can use the same security checkpoint to depart from different gates. While you’re together, make sure to make a stop at a few of Sea-Tac’s dining and retail options before you split for your flights. 

Pathfinders help direct passengers at the airport

3.    I mistakenly packed something I cannot bring through security. Do I have to throw it away?

Luckily, near every security checkpoint, there are “Send It Home" kiosks that will allow you to ship your item back home for a fee. Next time, if you are not sure whether  an item is prohibited, check TSA’s list of prohibited items.

4.    My traveling companion doesn’t have TSA Pre✓®, but I do. Can they go through Pre✓ with me?

If you are traveling with children 12-years-old or younger, you can bring them through TSA Pre✓ with you. If your traveling companion is older than 12-years-old they cannot go with you unless they also have TSA Pre✓ on their boarding passes. If you would like to stick together and only one of you has TSA Pre✓, we recommend you both go through general screening.

Pro Tip: If you are traveling with children,  take advantage of the family-friendly activities throughout the airport.

5.    I forgot my ID. Can I still go through security?

 Yes, but expect the process to take a little longer. Here’s what will happen.

  1. You will first be asked for two forms of alternative ID that needs to include information such as a photo, name, address, birth date, and phone number. Some examples of acceptable alternative ID are a credit card, birth certificate, social security card, and student ID. 
  2. If you are not able to provide two alternative forms of ID, a TSA lead/supervisor will be called, and you will go through the ID verification process. You will be asked to complete a form and answer additional questions to confirm your identity. 
  3. Once your identity has been verified, you will be able to proceed through the security checkpoint where you will likely go through additional screening. 

6.    Are food or snacks allowed through security? 

Yes, food, snacks, and fruits are permitted. Liquids, however, are restricted when entering the security checkpoint. Liquids are defined as anything that takes the shape of its container, like yogurt or applesauce. Liquids, including gels, aerosols, creams and paste, must not exceed the 3.4 oz limit and must fit into a one quart-sized bag. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to pack your food and liquids in areas of your luggage that are easily accessible to speed the security process.

Passenger pours out her liquids before entering the security checkpoint

7.    Where can I charge my phone? 

Power outlets can be found throughout the airport and at most gates. If you check under your seat, you might just be sitting on one!  For more outlets, look for the charging stations located along the white counters on each concourse post-security. If you are located on the pre-security side of the airport, head to the baggage claim near 8/9 or 13/14 for more charging stations.

8.    I am late for my flight. Is there any way I can be expedited through security?   

Look for a Pathfinder and they will direct you to the checkpoint line with the shortest wait time. If it’s a busy day and you still won’t make it through security in time you have two options:

  1. Go to your airline’s ticket counter and ask them to expedite your boarding pass.
  2. Apply for CLEAR®.  CLEAR, which is available in more than 60 airports and stadiums, will allow you to use your biometrics instead of traditional documents, and you will be able to use the CLEAR checkpoint line, which has a shorter wait time than general screening. CLEAR has a free two-month trial period, but after the trial ends, a fee of $179 USD will be charged per year. 

Pro tip: Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight’s boarding time for a domestic flight and at least three hours for an international flight. This will give you enough time to check your bags, go through security, and get to your gate 30 minutes before departure. 

10.    Can I go to the premium lane if I have TSA Pre✓?

No, the premium lane is not part of the TSA Pre✓ benefits. This premium lane is provided by the airlines for their business class or first-class passengers and mileage cardholders. However, if you have TSA Pre✓ and a first-class ticket or mileage status with an airline, you can use both benefits and get access to the premium lane. 

Pathfinders help navigate checkpoint lines

11.    I have a NEXUS or Global Entry card. Can I go through TSA Pre✓?

NEXUS and Global Entry honors TSA Pre✓as long as it is on your boarding pass. You will not be able to go through TSA Pre✓ with just the NEXUS or Global Entry card if it is not visibly shown on the boarding pass. 

Pro Tip: If you want to navigate Sea-Tac airport like a pro, download the Sea-Tac App! It will keep you updated with valuable information like checkpoint wait times, flight information, and an interactive map. 

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