The number of travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) during the upcoming holiday is expected to be the highest seen since the start of the pandemic. With physical distancing and increased cleaning protocols, the airport is increasing its public information campaign and asking passengers to come prepared to comply with healthy travel measures.
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.
“We want the public to know the steps we are taking here at the airport, so they can confidently prepare for a trip or make an informed decision about traveling,” said SEA Managing Director Lance Lyttle. “If you’re headed home for the holidays on a trip that couldn’t wait, it’s our highest priority to help keep you healthy at the airport with moments of holiday happiness sprinkled in.”
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 SEA Airport App:
- 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.
- 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 SEA 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. Just recently, we began piloting a mobile system on Concourse D that removes pathogens from the air. The device filters the air and disperses negatively charged ions. These ions are attracted to positively charged particulates, such as viruses, bacteria and mold, to neutralize and kill them at the molecular level.
- SEA launched Pre-Booked Parking as an innovation for seamless, contact-free travel.
- Check out our new SEA Social Story developed for travelers with sensory sensitivities such as autism, but also great overall tips for kids.
- Installed nearly 350 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, including new options: Vyne, Beecher’s Annex, and Sourced.
"Concourse Concessions is proud to work with the Port of Seattle and airlines to ensure the safety of all employees and the traveling public, from curbside to the airplane,” said David Fukuhara, CEO Concourse Concessions. “Pandemic safety is priority #1 in our three airport restaurants, Caffe D’arte in the North Satellite, Hachi-ko located on Concourse C and La Pisa Café on Concourse A. Our processes include strict PPE utilization, social distancing, frequent washing/sanitizing and detailed record keeping. Travelers at SEA can be confident that their airport experience will be safe, relaxed and . . . delicious!"
By the Numbers
More travelers will pass through SEA during the upcoming holidays than since the pandemic began. Several days are projected to be more than 25,000 departing passengers through the security checkpoints. The previous high was during the Labor Day holiday with over 23,000 passengers. This compares to the lowest point of the COVID-19 crisis in March with only 2,500 departing passengers per day. This is still considerably fewer than what we saw pre-COVID during last year’s holiday with peak days over 65,000. 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, Nov. 29 (projected 29,500 passengers), Wednesday, Nov. 25 (29,000), Monday, Nov. 30 (28,000), Saturday, Nov 28 (26,500), Tuesday, Dec. 1 (26,500), and Tuesday, Nov. 24 (26,000).
As for overall passenger traffic, through September SEA is down 60.2 percent compared to 2019. The month of September saw 1,490,148 total passengers this year compared to 4,458,962 in 2019.
What Can I Do to Prepare?
- If you’re sick, stay home. If you have symptoms, protect yourself and others by not traveling.
- 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.
- Mask Up! Face masks became mandatory in Washington state on June 26 under a public health order by Gov. Jay Inslee. 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 visit the Information Desk, look for the Mask Up SEA cart, or ask a Pathfinder in green.
- 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.
- Wipe down surfaces. Bring disinfecting wipes on your journey and wipe down any common use areas you touch.
- Don’t touch your face! Refrain from touching your face and putting items like your boarding pass in your mouth.
- 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.
- Participate in the SEAson of Caring! SEA is hosting a non-perishable food drive benefiting the South King County Food Bank Coalition in coordination with the Des Moines Food Bank. Collection bins are available on your way into the airport near the garage sky bridges for dry and canned food from November 21–29, 2020.
Give me the Traveler Basics
To improve the travel experience for seasoned pros and newbies alike, SEA reminds all travelers to use:
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Need more travel hacks? Visit our recently relaunched Traveler Tips webpage for our best advice to navigate SEA like a frequent flier.
- SEA is adding new services to make travel more accessible and less stressful for everyone. The expanded services, like the sunflower lanyards program for customers with hidden disabilities, make the airport more accessible and help improve the travel experience beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Learn more about accessibility at SEA.
- Check with the City of SeaTac to see if there are 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: