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Labor Day Travel through Sea-Tac Airport?

Update from the Port on the coronavirus response and guidance to travelers. Learn more.

Get ready with quick tips: Come early, come prepared, and discover something new
August 26, 2019

The final weekend of summer travel means your chance for one last trip before school starts. Great idea! But you’re not the only one with that idea. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the 10th most connected international hub in the U.S. and the 11th most connected domestic hub, making the airport a key travel destination for you and thousands of others. Take advantage of our tips to help make your travel efficient and enjoyable.

Top tips to prepare for takeoff

  • Download the Sea-Tac Airport App — Monitor security checkpoint wait times, search for your flight and use the map to find restaurants, lounges, spas, meditation room, children’s play area, stores, and other services.
  • Plan ahead and get here early — Two hours before your flight’s boarding time for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight. Security checkpoint wait times are unpredictable, so plan to arrive early if lines are long.
  • Avoid driving if you can — Use light rail, public transit, taxis, airport shuttle, or ride-share vehicles. If you are driving, “Think Opposite,” to drop off passengers on the Arrivals level in the morning, and arrange to meet your passengers on the Departures level in the evening.
  • Limit carry-on food items for faster screening — Large food items could trigger additional screening. Anything that takes the form of its container (like yogurt or peanut butter) counts as a liquid.

See below for tips to make your travel efficient and enjoyable.

The SEA mobile app is available for iOS and Andriod devices
Save time and download the SEA mobile app, available for both iOS and Android devices, before you get to the airport.

Tech options

  • Use the Apps! Download the Sea-Tac Airport App to watch security checkpoint wait times; search for your flight; find yourself on the terminal map; and navigate to restaurants, lounges, the meditation room, or your favorite shop. Also, use multiple other apps to help you navigate and enjoy the airport.
  • Sign up for text alerts. Get text updates by texting "Airport" to 206-347-8045.
  • Sign up for Trusted Traveler Programs such as TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry. Also, consider signing up for CLEAR to get you through the lines faster. These expedited security programs help for both domestic and international travel, including a faster way through customs with Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control.
  • Gourmet-on-the-go! Dining options throughout Sea-Tac like Evergreens Salad, Qdoba, and Beecher’s offer online and mobile ordering – explore all seven apps. Several quick-service restaurants such as Camden Foods Co., McDonald’s, and Pei Wei Asian Kitchen have ordering kiosks to skip the line.

Sound Transit Link light rail at Sea-Tac Airport
Avoid traffic, stress, and the hassle of parking your car! Take Link light rail, just one available alternative to driving to the airport.

Getting to the airport

  • Arrive early! Security checkpoint wait times are unpredictable. Plan on arriving at the airport at least two hours before your boarding time for a domestic flight, and three hours for international travel. To save time, print your boarding pass and check your flight status at home. Some airlines allow you to print luggage tags as well. This saves time at the ticket counter. For more info about checkpoints, read “Why Can the Checkpoints Be Such a Challenge?”.
  • Avoid driving. Take light rail, public transit, taxis, airport shuttles, or rideshare vehicles. Public transportation is the best option if you want to stay out of a traffic jam. Use Sound Transit Link light rail to travel all the way to the airport or meet your party at one of the nearby stations. The Tukwila and Angle Lake stations offer free short-term parking one stop away to avoid airport traffic headaches. There is also a free shuttle cart service from the station to the airport terminal.
  • Think opposite. In the morning, drop off passengers on the Arrivals level. In the evenings, arrange to meet your passengers on the Departures level. Peak traffic congestion occurs on the Departure level from approximately 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. During the middle of the day, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., both Arrivals and Departure experience backups. In the evenings, the Arrivals drive experiences heavy traffic from about 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Going opposite gets you out of the traffic crunch.
  • Are you there yet? If you’re picking up passengers, make sure they are there before going to the drive. It will take some time for them to walk from the plane or pick up bags.
  • Be sure and check with the City of SeaTac to see possible road construction projects that might hinder access to the airport.

Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen makes yummy, fresh salad rolls
Healthy options, such as these Salad Rolls from Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen (pictured above), are available at many eateries throughout Sea-Tac Airport.

Ready for security checkpoints

  • Be ready for security checkpoints. Sea-Tac and its partners in the Transportation Security Administration (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.
  • Be thoughtful about food. Sea-Tac recommends that unless you plan on eating food at the airport or on your flight, pack your treats in your checked luggage. Keeping food or liquids in your carry-on luggage might prompt additional screenings.

What’s new at Sea-Tac Airport

  • Bon appétit! Sea-Tac Airport opened almost 20 dining options so far this year! Lucky Louie Fish Shack™, Evergreens Salad, Pallino Pastaria, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, and Koi Shi Sushi Bento are new quick-service eateries in the Central Terminal. Fresh additions include Caffe D’arte, Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, and Skillet that are serving up espresso, Vietnamese cuisine, and gourmet comfort foods in the N Gates. Le Grand Comptoir on Concourse C serves hand-picked Pacific Northwest wines and sit-down bistro-inspired foods and Ballard Brew Hall offers gastropub fare and craft beer on Concourse D.

Planning for the future

  • With more than $3.7 billion in capital development underway, passengers see something new at Sea-Tac Airport every 90 days. Major ongoing projects that make travel more efficient, expand passenger space, and offer new amenities include the North Satellite Modernization, International Arrivals Facility, Central Terminal Renovation Project, and the Baggage System Upgrade.
  • The Port of Seattle and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are also conducting an environmental review of more than 30 Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) Near-Term Projects that will improve efficiency, safety, and access to the airport. Highlights include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover with three stations to connect the rental car facility, new terminal, and main terminal. Near-Term Projects will be complete or under construction by 2027.


Perry Cooper | Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
(206) 787-4923 |

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