Not all superheroes wear capes. Navigating Sea-Tac International Airport with 92 dining and retail options, two passenger drives, a massive parking garage containing rideshares, shuttles, and buses, and more than 30 airlines can be a daunting task for visitors.
Enter the Pathfinders team at Sea-Tac International Airport, easily recognizable in their teal shirts and working hard to save disoriented travelers daily. You can typically find them anywhere throughout the terminal doing anything from organizing security lines to directing travelers. And these staff members are some of the most knowledgeable people in the entire airport.
Lead Pathfinder Vikky Leung has been working as a Pathfinder since 2015, and can attest to the many roles Pathfinders play. “We provide customer service to passengers but more than that, we respond to operational needs — the airport is ever-changing,” she says.
The most common place to see these superheroes in teal are at the checkpoint lines, which can grow rapidly in peak seasons like summer and the holidays. Pathfinders are essential to managing the lines.
“We tell passengers where to go and what lines are running the fastest. If one checkpoint is taking longer, we inform the passengers where the faster checkpoint is and give them the option to go. Most of the time they listen and you’ll see huge groups of people running from one checkpoint to the other,” Leung says.
Pathfinders are in constant communication with the airlines, airport duty managers, and TSA to keep all things running smoothly.
“Ultimately, we all want the same thing: for passengers to go through as safely and efficiently as possible,” Leung says, citing her favorite part of being a Pathfinder as “communicating with so many people and knowing that you’ve made a difference in their Sea-Tac airport experience.”
There are 12 full-time Pathfinders, as well as a additional interns and summer staff, all strategically positioned throughout the terminal to help the greatest number of people. The most common question of course is the location of the nearest bathroom, but Leung has gotten many interesting questions in her time here.
“I’ve had people ask me if anyone can cut their hair or if I was able to tell them their in-flight dining menu and snack options! Not too long ago, I had a man tap me on the shoulder to ask me ‘Can you tell me the capital of Mongolia?’” Leung says. (She even knew the capital — Ulaanbaatar!).
Next time you’re feeling lost at Sea-Tac, or just have a question about anything, look for a superhero in a teal shirt to save your day!