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SEA Airport ‘Back to Busy’ as Holiday Kicks off Summer Travel

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

Memorial Day Weekend expects largest numbers since pandemic began. Be prepared—Masks still required at U.S. airports and during travel
May 19, 2021

More than 100,000 passengers per day are projected to travel through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) during the peak of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. Travelers need to prepare for company and continue following health and safety precautions during travel.

Masks are still required as federal mask mandates continue for transportation facilities. Health and safety protocols and plans for managing larger crowds may be new if you haven’t traveled recently. SEA Airport encourages passengers to check the flySEA app and FlyHealthy@SEA along with this summer travel guide for more information.

Our globally accredited FlyHealthy@SEA prioritizes traveler safety, health and well-being with protocols like mandatory masks, medical-grade cleaning, touchless technology, and plastic protective barriers.

By The Numbers

Current projections estimate that the Thursday and Friday ahead of the holiday will see 40,000 outbound travelers going through the security checkpoints, which amounts to over 100,000 total passengers going through the airport (inbound, outbound, and connecting). This represents approximately 40% fewer travelers compared to pre-pandemic levels (60,000 outbound and 163,000 overall passengers during the 2019 Memorial Day weekend). The busiest day since the pandemic began was April 9 with 35,746 screened for outbound and over 89,000 overall passengers.

What’s New at SEA

  • Try SEA Spot Saver! This is a free pilot program this summer for passengers to sign-up for reservations at the TSA general screening security checkpoints. RSVP to save your spot in line up to a day in advance of travel or once at the airport.
  • Use Pre-Booked Parking as an option for contact-free travel. Pre-Booked Parking allows you to book and pay for airport parking in advance of arrival. Drive your own vehicle and scan your booking QR code on your phone at the garage entry and exit.
  • Breathe easy knowing our air filtration and ventilation system constantly circulates fresh, outdoor air through the terminal and uses a system that captures 90% of COVID-19 particles.
  • New Lost & Found – One of the worst things about travel is if you lose something! Yikes! Now there’s a larger Lost & Found to help. Located on bag claim level across from carousel 13, the new office is twice the size of the old one and ready to help with an overall return rate of 89.6 percent!
  • North Satellite begins phased opening with two new gates. Originally expected to open in the third quarter of 2021, the airport and its partners are working to open all North Satellite facilities as soon as possible to serve the increasing demand for air travel. Two new passenger gates and restrooms open on May 25 also revealing new landmark public art installations at SEA Airport. At the end of June passengers will have access to ten more gates, and a new airport destination, the Marketplace at N, with a stage for live performances, and open seating with views of the airfield. Dining and retail options Tundra Taqueria, SEA Roast Coffee House, Pike & Pine, and Filson open in July and August.

Good Reminders

  • If you’re sick, stay home. If you have symptoms, do not travel.
  • Arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours for international travel – just like we used to. This is including your entire travel experience at the airport, from parking (at the airport garage or off-site with a shuttle), if you need to check bags at the ticket counters, getting through security checkpoints, and getting to your gate on time.
  • Most businesses are open. We are in Phase 3 of Governor Inslee's Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan. Sit-down dining will be available at 50% capacity, in addition to existing to-go options for food and beverage. Alcohol service is available daily until 11 p.m.
  • Well-spaced and regularly cleaned tables and chairs are available for “grab and go” dining throughout the airport, including Central Terminal. Eat and shop with confidence as airport restaurants and retailers are also going above and beyond to protest your health and well-being.
  • Be Aware: Security checkpoint lines look longer but waits are not. Due to physical distancing, lines fill up faster as we’ve closed every other back and forth queue line but this reduces space by up to 75%. Lines move faster than they look. Plus, wait times on flight displays and our flySEA App are noted in five-minute increments. Check out TSA’s Travel With Ease with PreCheck to shorten any checkpoint wait.
  • Road construction: If you’ve ever had to wait to pick up a loved one, you may be familiar with our cellphone lot on S. 170th Street. This summer a dedicated access route to the lot will be constructed to reduce congestion, however, drivers will see detours and lane closures as safety and improvements are made. Check out our project page to keep up to date on progress, closures, and effects to your plans.
  • Check travel guidance. Check with your airline regarding any rules you need to know for the state or country where you plan to travel.

Give me the Traveler Basics

The pandemic paused leisure travel for the last year. And rightly so. Now, travelers are more comfortable booking trips with the right planning and precautions to stay healthy. The CDC guidance for travelers changes depending on your COVID-19 vaccination status. We’re focused on keeping travelers and the SEA team safe. We are ready for you when you feel good about traveling.

  1. For a more efficient experience, download (or update!) the flySEA App. See checkpoint waits in real-time in 5-minute increments, locate dining and retail to explore, and use the interactive map to navigate the airport.
  2. Look for the SEA Pathfinders in bright green if you have questions in the terminal or DM us and our customer 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. Pre-Booked Parking is available 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 the 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 traveler with sensory sensitivities such as autism, but also great overall tips for kids. Learn more about accessibility at SEA. The interactive map on the flySEA App offers accessible route directions.
  8. 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:

Contact

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

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