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Healthy Holidays the Focus at SEA Airport for Those Who Travel

Follow FlyHealthy@SEA, use flySEA App, and these travel tips
December 15, 2020

For those who decide to travel during the upcoming winter holidays, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) continues its globally accredited FlyHealthy@SEA program and encourages passengers to come prepared to comply with healthy travel measures. Current projections expect a lower average number of daily travelers than the Thanksgiving holiday, however more total passengers due to the longer holiday travel period.

FlyHealthy@SEA continues to prioritize traveler safety, health, and well-being with protocols including medical-grade cleaning, plastic protective barriers, pre-booked parking, and even a digital travel book for children with sensory sensitivities.

The airport asks that everyone comply with directions to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Stay home if you are sick, expect to wear a facial covering for the duration of your journey, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, and embrace some alone time with physical distancing.

Here are some highlights of the airport’s efforts, including tips from our flySEA App:

  • Don’t miss our 2020 Holiday Travel Guide!
  • Face masks or coverings are required. The airport has free masks available for travelers needing one. Stop by the Information Desk, look for the Mask Up SEA cart, or ask a Pathfinder in green.
  • Discovery Health MD opened a COVID-19 testing location for non-symptomatic travel testing. 
  • Be Aware: Security checkpoint lines look longer but waits are not. Due to physical distancing, lines fill up faster as six-foot separations reduce queuing by up to 75%. However, lines move faster than they look. Plus, our wait times on flight displays and our SEA App are now noted in five-minute increments. Check out TSA’s Travel With Ease with PreCheck to shorten any checkpoint wait.
  • We doubled down on cleaning at SEA with frequent disinfection with medical-grade cleaning products. 
  • Added over 280 hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminal for your use. Download the flySEA App with our interactive map of hand sanitizer locations.
  • Breathe easy knowing our air filtration and ventilation system constantly circulates fresh, outdoor air through the terminal and uses filters that capture 90 percent of COVID-19 sized particles because more is more when it comes to your health and safety.
  • SEA launched Pre-Booked Parking as an innovation for seamless, contact-free travel.
  • Installed nearly 650 plastic protective barriers that buffer interactions between travelers and airport employees, and 8,000 signs for reminders and spacing to honor physical distancing.
  • Airport restaurants and retailers are also going above and beyond to protect your health and well-being. Eat and shop with confidence, our restaurants and retailers are offering holiday menus and seasonal treats, and this is a gift guide for last-minute shoppers.

By the Numbers

Initial projections expect the number of travelers during peak days to be lower than the highest days of Thanksgiving travel; however, the longer two-week holiday period spreads out a larger number of travelers. From December 16 through December 26, current average daily passenger numbers are consistent with the average seen during the week of Thanksgiving at 18,700 departing passengers through the security checkpoints (or 46,750 overall, including departing, arriving, and connecting passengers).

This is still considerably fewer than what we saw pre-COVID during last year’s holiday with peak days over 67,000 departing travelers through the checkpoints and 167,000 overall passengers. That is 55-60 percent lower than normal traffic levels. See the latest airport activities dashboard update

The busiest days are projected to be Sunday, Dec. 20 and Tuesday, Dec. 22 (projected 23,000 departing passengers through checkpoint OR 57,500 overall through the airport including departing, arriving, and connecting passengers), Monday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday, Dec. 23 (22,500/56,250), Friday, Dec. 18 (22,000/55,000), Saturday, Dec. 19 (21,500/53,750), Thursday, Dec. 17 (19,000/47,500).

As for overall passenger traffic, through October SEA is down 60.5 percent compared to 2019. 

What Can I Do to Prepare?

  1. If you’re sick, stay home. If you have symptoms, protect yourself and others by not traveling.
  2. Check travel guidance. Some U.S. states and foreign countries require mandatory quarantines for arriving passengers. Check with your airline regarding any rules you need to know for the state or country where you plan to travel.
  3. Mask Up! Face masks are mandatory in Washington state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises face coverings may slow the spread of the virus. Pack an extra mask in case you need a fresh one along the way, or snag some from our Pathfinders or various airport retailers.
  4. Wash and sanitize your hands often. Lather for 20 seconds covering the back of your hands, under your fingernails, and between your fingers before rinsing. Don’t have time to wash? We have you covered! SEA installed hundreds of hand sanitizing stations throughout the terminal. You can locate all 280 of them on the SEA App.
  5. Wipe down surfaces. Bring disinfecting wipes on your journey and wipe down any common use areas you touch.
  6. Don’t touch your face! Refrain from touching your face and putting items like your boarding pass in your mouth.
  7. Keep your distance. Maintain a six-foot distance from others. There are spaces in the airport where this can be a challenge, such as the satellite trains, gate areas, and, of course, the aircraft. If you’re uncomfortable, step away from the crowd, or in the instance of satellite trains, wait for the next one to arrive in 2-3 minutes.
  8. Participate in the SEAson of Caring! Holiday celebrations look a little different this year, but the SEA Airport team is stepping up the holiday cheer while protecting your health. Keep an eye out for festive storefronts or gate areas throughout the airport celebrating the spirit of Pacific Northwest winter. From December 17– 24 you may spot employees in festive attire during “Ugly Sweater Week,” and watch for the SEA elf in the airport bearing sweet treats. 

Give me the basics

To improve the travel experience for seasoned pros and newbies alike, SEA reminds all travelers to use:

  1. For a more efficient experience, download (or update!) the SEA Airport App. See checkpoint waits in real time (now listed in 5-minute increments!), locate restaurants and shops to explore, water bottle refill stations, and use the interactive map to navigate the airport. Now with accessible route directions!
  2. Look for the SEA Pathfinders and volunteers in bright green if you have questions in the terminal or slide into our DMs and our social care team is happy to help!
  3. Give yourself extra time. Arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international travel. Even with lower traffic, COVID-19 physical distancing efforts can make transiting through the airport longer than expected.
  4. Park in the airport garage. Consider picking up and dropping off passengers in the airport garage to avoid congestion. Short term parking is only $5/hour. SEA launched Pre-Booked Parking for a touchless transaction in advance of arrival.
  5. Be ready for security checkpoints. SEA and TSA want to help you move through security checkpoints as quickly as possible. Travelers are required to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from carry-on luggage. Also, remove foods and liquids from your carry-on luggage, prepare to hold up your boarding pass for review, and wear your mask.
  6. Need more travel hacks? Visit our recently relaunched Traveler Tips webpage for our best advice to navigate SEA like a frequent flier.
  7. SEA is adding new services to make travel more accessible and improve the travel experience beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Check out our new SEA Social Story developed for travelers with sensory sensitivities such as autism, but also great overall tips for kids. Learn more at accessibility at SEA.
  8. Check with the City of SeaTac for any road construction projects that might hinder your access to the airport.

FlyHealthy@SEA will continue to evolve as travelers return to the airport. For more information, please visit:


Perry Cooper | SEA Airport
(206) 787-4923 |

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