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Upgrades in Progress at SEA Airport: Be Aware, Prepare, and Know What’s Ahead

Be efficient with temporary checkpoint closure and new construction impacts
May 15, 2024

If you haven’t been to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) for awhile, be prepared to see things you haven’t seen before. Construction is noticeable with 120 projects underway as part of Upgrade SEA, which is investing $5 billion over the next five years to create exciting opportunities now and into the future.

SEA Airport may look different, but staff are working diligently to continue the customer service we are known for, to make your travel experience the best it can be this summer. A couple of key points for travelers:

  • TSA Security Checkpoint 3 is temporarily closed for reconfiguration. This project will add two more lanes to the checkpoint, which reopens in early June, ahead of the summer season.
  • The reconfiguration of TSA Security Checkpoint 2 was recently completed, adding two lanes.
  • Overall, the four new lanes will add an additional 600 passengers per hour to overall throughput, helping SEA to meet peak periods of departing passengers this summer.

Construction impacts associated with Upgrade SEA capital improvement projects also will be apparent to travelers over the summer:

  • Those arriving along the north expressway will notice two retaining walls going up as part of the Roadway Improvements project. These will shift the roadway west to accommodate two new lanes.
  • New scaffolding in front of TSA Security Checkpoint 5 is now in place as part of the next phase of the SEA Gateway project.
  • Expanded construction walls are up for the new TSA Security Checkpoint 1 Relocation on the south end of the baggage level of the main terminal in the Arrivals Hall.
  • The C Concourse Expansion has closed dining and retail locations along the beginning of the concourse as four new stories are being built above the space, to open in 2026.
  • We encourage travelers to continue to arrive early and pay attention to signage and directions from SEA staff to get through the various construction areas.

Take a look at some of our recently completed projects:

Memorial Day holiday and summer travel numbers

SEA expects an estimated 760,000 passengers to travel through the airport during the May 23 - 27 holiday period — close to record numbers. The busiest travel days over the next two weeks are projected to be:

  • Friday, May 24, with 173,000 overall passengers (outbound, inbound, and connecting)
  • Thursday, May 17 (168,000)
  • Friday, May 18 (167,000)
  • Thursday, May 23 (166,000)

Mornings before noon will be consistently busy, with early mornings before 9:00 a.m. being the busiest. Busy periods can cause busy conditions at TSA security checkpoints and on the drives.

The summer (June–August), SEA is forecast to see 15.5 million passengers, which is about equal to 2019 levels. A small bump in demand could make it a record. In 2023, SEA saw 50.9 million passengers for the year, just short of 2019 record levels of 51.8 million. 2023 was a record year for international passengers, and forecasts predict overall passenger volume will increase by 3% to set an all-time record for SEA.

Explore SEA’s history this summer

With a busy summer on deck, arriving early is always recommended. Passengers who have extra time can participate in a special 75th Anniversary summer scavenger hunt highlighting some of the most loved places around the airport. Passengers can visit the website to download the map or pick up a paper copy at the information desk in A Concourse, where they can also grab a special 75th Anniversary memento.

Travel tips for the summer

  • Start here with all of our Travel Tips for SEA Airport.
  • Arrive early. Be in the terminal at least two hours before your boarding time for a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. Include travel times from off-site parking or drop-offs.
  • Avoid a traffic jam. Try alternate ways to get to the airport so you avoid the congested drives. Use public transportation, airport parking, a taxi/limo, a rideshare, a scheduled airporter, a door-to-door van service, or a shuttle option.
  • Think opposite. If driving to the curb is your only option, use the Lower Arrivals Drive to drop off during peak hours, or use the Upper Departures Drive to pick up. Or just use whichever lane is moving faster – they both go to the same building!
  • Try the new SEA Reserved Parking. Reserve a space on Floor 4 for a minimum two-day stay. From there, it’s just a short walk across the skybridge to the terminal. Reservations during the summer are already filling quickly. We recommend reserving at least two weeks in advance for best availability.
  • If you’re parking at the airport garage, look for the green lights indicating open parking stalls. The Automated Parking Guidance System helps you find a spot faster!

Ready to check in

  • No bags to check and boarding pass in hand? Go straight to the security checkpoint and avoid the check-in desks.
  • Be prepped with your airline ahead of time. Check their baggage policies, check yourself in, and have all their apps downloaded for efficient travel. See our best baggage tips.
  • Don’t forget your boarding passes or your bag tags or whatever you can do ahead of time.

Security checkpoint options

  • Speed through security checkpoints. Available daily from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.! Sign up for FREE SEA Spot Saver service to reserve your time at TSA security checkpoints as early as five days before you travel (or when you arrive at the airport).
  • Be ready for security checkpoints. SEA and TSA want to help you move through as quickly as possible. Travelers are required to remove any electronic device larger than a cell phone from their carry-on luggage. Also remove foods and liquids from your carry-on luggage and prepare to hold up your boarding pass for review. Review the latest Identification and Documentation Requirements.
  • Going to Mexico or another international destination for your holiday? Download the Mobile Passport Control app before you leave home. Add your travel details as you land back at SEA. Collect your bags and go straight to a dedicated line in the International Arrivals Facility. Your entire family can complete the customs process from a single mobile device, available for U.S. and Canadian citizens and those with a green card.

Check out more at SEA Airport travel tips.



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

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