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Tips to Be Thankful for: SEA Airport Holiday Travel Edition

Tools like Sea-Tac App help you know before you go
November 18, 2019

With just over a million travelers heading through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) for the holidays, the airport is bustling during this travel season. The holidays are about quality time, which means preparedness and a little advanced planning can help you protect the time that matters most.

From Monday, November 25 through Monday, December 2, an estimated 1,080,000 passengers will travel through the airport with the busiest days seeing up to 160,000 travelers per day – or more than two sold out games for the Seahawks. Our team at SEA is working hard to ensure you have a good airport experience that is efficient, clean, safe, and (we hope!) even enjoyable. The busiest travel days will be Wednesday, Nov 27 (projected 163,500 passengers), Sunday, Dec. 1 (150,000), Tuesday, Nov. 26 (143,500), Monday, Dec. 2 (142,500), and Friday, Nov 22 (140,000).

This advice helps you prepare for your trip and discover something new at SEA.

Five Tips to Keep You Merry and Bright

  1. For a more efficient experience, download (or update!) the Sea-Tac App. See checkpoint waits in real time, locate restaurants and shops to explore, water bottle refill stations, and use the interactive map to navigate the airport.
  2. Give yourself the gift of time. Arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international travel.
  3. Going green is our favorite holiday color. Public transportation is the most efficient options to stay out of a traffic jam. Use Sound Transit Link light rail to travel all the way to the airport and the free “Train to Plane” shuttle cart service will chauffeur you from the station to the airport terminal.
  4. 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. Keeping food or liquids in your carry-on luggage might prompt additional screenings.
  5. Need more travel hacks? Visit our recently relaunched Traveler Tips webpage for our best advice to navigate SEA like a frequent flier.

2019 Season of Light graphic


Passenger Experience Reminders

It is tight in the terminal this time of year. We hear you, and progress is made every day towards more elbow room, more outlets for charging and more dining and retails options. SEA Airport is adding 693,000 of new additional square feet by 2021. Hang in there through the squeeze – we really appreciate it.

It’s important that passengers can have questions answered and find what they need. Look for the SEA Pathfinders in teal and volunteers in blue blazers or teal polos. Our customer experience team is happy to help!

SEA recently shared new services to make travel more accessible and less stressful for everyone. The expanded services, like a pilot program to meet the needs of guests 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.

Choice, convenience and price point matter to our customers. Twenty new dining and retail options in 2019 with a mix of local concepts and national brands deliver that. From build-your-own salads to Vietnamese cuisine and gourmet comfort foods, find what you’re craving on the Sea-Tac App.

Think opposite. In the morning, drop off passengers on the Arrivals level. In the evenings, arrange to meet your passengers on the Departures level. Going opposite gets you out of the traffic crunch. Peak traffic congestion occurs on Departure 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.

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 pickup bags. This helps stay on the nice list of Port of Seattle Police who will be patrolling for drivers parking on the shoulder. Our officers are making a list and checking it twice. ?

Check with the City of SeaTac to see if there are any road construction projects that might hinder your access to the airport.


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

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