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Countdown Begins to Open New International Arrivals Facility

Public invited to participate in online reveal events before passenger travel begins
February 7, 2022

The countdown is on for the new International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The airport announced a set of free, online virtual celebrations today to provide a sneak peek of the facility before final readiness testing begins.

Three sections of the new International Arrivals Facility offer a modern welcome to international travelers. The new passenger walkway, extension on A Concourse, and the 450,000-square-foot Grand Hall of the IAF work together to significantly enhance the arrival experience for international travelers, advance the Puget Sound region as a leading tourism and business gateway, and serve the traveling public well into the future.

“It is thrilling that we are on the cusp of launching a modern welcome to the world,” said SEA Managing Director Lance Lyttle. “The innovative design and passenger experience demonstrates our commitment to the future of international travel and to providing facilities that reflect the diversity of our region and our guests.”

Online Reveal Celebration

Tune into the unveiling of the International Arrivals Facility through a reveal video program that will be streamed for audiences throughout the world! See and discover this dramatic improvement to SEA’s customer experience as travelers enter the United States and Pacific Northwest and go behind the scenes on what it took to construct this one-of-a-kind facility. You will experience personal stories about how international travel opens horizons and changes lives, and hear from Port, SEA and construction leaders, airlines, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

March 3, 2022
Register to join the online celebrations at 7 a.m. PST or 4 p.m. PST

Final readiness testing to begin

There is much happening behind the scenes to ensure that the largest and most complex capital project in the Port’s history seamlessly transitions from construction phase to active airport operations. This process is called the Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition (ORAT).

SEA’s ORAT team leads  this activation period in close collaboration with federal agency and airline partners. More than 1,000 airport employees, tenants and frontline staff have taken familiarization and training tours covering integrated systems, including:

  • Airline and ground handler operations
  • Passenger processing
  • Carousels and baggage handling systems
  • Building readiness for HVAC, waste management, restrooms, and other amenities
  • Security and emergency response drills

The two major readiness milestones will take place in upcoming weeks. The airport will run a passenger flow simulation with hundreds of volunteers. Participants will evaluate the functionality and flow of passenger journey elements such as like elevators and escalators, wayfinding and signage, baggage claim, inspection, and re-check. The airport considers passenger flow feedback into final operation plans.

The final phase of operational readiness kicks off when the IAF begins serving a limited number of early morning flights on the A Concourse over a multi-day period. This final operational readiness testing ensures that the facility and staff are prepared to seamlessly serve peak passenger volume. The full IAF opening follows with the opening of the iconic 85-foot-high aerial walkway for the use of international arrivals from the S Concourse. Both bring arriving passengers into the IAF’s Grand Hall, a 450,000-square-foot space for baggage claim and customs processing that is more than four times the size of the previous space.

Welcome Here, Welcome Home

Welcome Here, Welcome Home graphic

Entering the United States, you are greeted by a stunning building and experience. Most travelers will cross the new one-of-a-kind passenger walkway that is 85 feet above an active taxi lane. Look south for views of Mt. Rainier, west to the Olympic Mountains, north to the Seattle city skyline, or below your feet for a view of aircraft taxiing underneath the passenger walkway! 

SEA is newly certified as only the second large hub U.S. airport to earn the travel industry’s prestigious Skytrax 4-Star Airport Rating. This achievement follows a suite of improvements that make the airport experience better, including beautifully modernized spaces such as the International Arrivals Facility.

More predictable and less stressful arrival and customs processing:

  • Nearly doubling the international gates from 12 to 20
  • Increasing passenger capacity by more than double to 2,600 passengers per hour
  • Adding additional amenities that passengers need such as nursing rooms, pet relief areas, and restrooms throughout the customs journey
  • Incorporating enhanced technologies for faster passport check clearance
  • Increasing size and number of bag claim carousels from four to seven
  • Reducing minimum passenger connection time from 90 to 75 minutes

The IAF is as smart and efficient as it is sustainable and designed with Pacific Northwest values.

To fulfill the Port's mission of environmental stewardship and sustainability, this facility has important green building elements:

  • Low-flow restroom fixtures to reduce indoor water use
  • Energy-saving features like LED lighting, energy-efficient escalator motors and variable speed motors on baggage handling devices
  • Two-thirds of building has daylighting to connect travelers to outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms, and reduce energy consumption
  • Conscientious construction with 7,163 tons of contaminated soil and 62,405 gallons of impacted stormwater removed from the project site, many materials sourced within 100 miles, low-emitting adhesives, materials, and coatings, and most of the construction waste was diverted from landfills

The architecture of the IAF mirrors the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and even the artwork evokes the natural beauty of this region through colors, shapes, and movement. The color choices, architectural elements, and artwork will welcome travelers to the natural beauty of our region:

  • Sunrise, mountain views, and natural light fill the floor to ceiling windows
  • Materials feature the blues of the sea and sky, and the greens and organic textures of the mountains and forests
  • More than 100,000 square feet of terrazzo floor sourced from local stone forms a rock pattern that evokes the colors and textures of a rocky Pacific Ocean beach
  • Wood accents bring warmth and nature into the space
  • A courtyard with plants and trees will give a flash of our namesake Emerald green as you exit to the rest of the airport
  • Chalchiutlicue, a five-piece sculpture by artist Marela Zacarías, over the bag claim carousels were inspired by the colors of the waterways and sunsets in the San Juan Islands
  • Magnetic Anomaly, three kinetic artworks created by Ned Kahn, consists of spinning suspended metallic mobiles that are inspired by the wind and ever-changing Pacific Northwest weather
  • And Indigenous art is coming soon to the IAF with works by six Native American artists, including renowned glass artist Preston Singletary and the interdisciplinary artist Marie Watt

While regional beauty and sustainability are center stage, the IAF meets the needs of our global and diverse community. The Port of Seattle is a leading contributor to the region’s economic recovery, and that depends on a thriving international airport that is welcoming and inclusive to all.

Contact

Perry Cooper | SEA Airport Media Officer
(206) 787-4923 | cooper.p@portseattle.org
 

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