May 4, 2021
COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport
Time is a precious commodity. And, no matter one’s background, each of us only has 24 hours in a day. In honor of National Volunteer Week in particular, we give thanks to our community of volunteers who donate their precious time. In doing so, during this unprecedented year, these volunteers supported travelers and the overall health and safety of our airport community.
This past March, SEA opened a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for airport badge holders and Port of Seattle employees. Although the Safeway/Albertson’s Pharmacy team provides clinic staff, each day 20-30 volunteers provide non-clinical support with management from the Port’s team. From checking people in for their appointments, to providing line management that supports physical distancing, to sanitizing chairs between administered shots, to filling out CDC vaccine cards — the need for staffing support is real. And, the clinic couldn’t open without volunteer support.
SEA is one of King County’s largest job sites. Offering an on-site clinic is an opportunity to streamline vaccine distribution to 20,000+ workers. With minimal notice, the airport badge holder community and Port of Seattle employees stepped up to meet the clinic’s staffing needs, helping to ensure 4,000+ employees easily received the vaccine in the clinic’s first four weeks.
Commenting on their experience, clinic volunteers shared:
“This was a very worthwhile volunteer opportunity, in being able to actively contribute to the airport's (and the Port's) COVID recovery efforts. I'm recommending this volunteer opportunity to all my colleagues.”
“It was so great to see so many frontline employees getting vaccinated!”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time working as a volunteer at the clinic! people really seemed generally excited and upbeat to be getting their shots, so it was fun to be around them!”
This past summer when wearing face masks was still new to passengers, SEA launched the Mask Up Street Team initiative. Mask Up Street Teamers roamed the terminal distributing care kits to support mask compliance. Each care kit includes a cloth mask, hand sanitizer packs, an SEA sticker, SEA candy, and a How to Stay Healthy While Traveling tip sheet.
Putting these care kits together is tedious and time consuming. To meet this need, volunteers stepped up to the challenge. Over the course of eight weeks, members of SEA’s Airport Volunteer Program came to a large conference room with physically distanced tables and mountains of supplies. While masked and gloved themselves, volunteers methodically made thousands of care kits. (A challenging task with gloves that stuck to the envelope seal!) In doing so, they helped support mask compliance to keep SEA safe and healthy. Since launching, over 10,000 care kits have been distributed. Care kits are still available at our Main Info Desk, located between checkpoints 3 and 4.
Although our SEA Airport Volunteer Program has been paused from front-line customer service duties since March 2020, volunteers are returning this spring.
Our community of airport volunteers is focused on elevating the customer experience by addressing their needs. Whether providing directions, distributing hidden disabilities sunflower lanyards, making dining suggestions, or providing Pacific Northwest tourist recommendations — our volunteers are invaluable members of the airport team. Working with our Pathfinder customer service staff, volunteers provide that needed additional support for travelers in an ever-changing busy international airport.
Commenting on what they enjoy most about volunteering, SEA Airport volunteers shared:
“I know what it’s like to be feeling totally lost or anxious when traveling, so I like to help people in that situation. I also love the stimulating environment.
“I love being helpful and making people feel comfortable. I especially like to interact with international passengers, as I love traveling overseas. I like learning new things and challenging my brain!”
“[I love] the feeling that I am really helping people get through the airport, and helping to ease their concerns. [I appreciate} the opportunity to teach them something about our area and promote our area.”
“I like the Seattle Airport. It is big, yet easy to get around in a short amount of time. There is a lot of anxiety when people travel. I think the people that work at SEA are the friendliest airport personnel I've encountered. Employees and volunteers will go out of their way to help passengers when they run into a problem. I like working with and helping people.”
Be on the lookout for our friendly volunteers wearing green this spring.
We thank our community of volunteers for rising to the occasion during this challenging year and donating their time to support our passengers and SEA health and safety. As SEA traffic continues to pick up, the need for additional volunteers also increases. We hope to bring on new volunteers this summer.
May 4, 2021
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