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Tarmac Delay Plan

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has prepared this Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan pursuant to §42301 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Questions regarding this plan can be directed to Mark Coates at SEA is filing this plan with the Department of Transportation because (1) it is a commercial airport or (2) this airport may be used by an air carrier described in USC 42301(a)(1) for diversions.

This plan describes how, following excessive tarmac delays and to the extent practicable, SEA will:

  • Provide for the deplanement of passengers;
  • Provide for the sharing of facilities and make gates available at the airport; and
  • Provide a sterile area following excessive tarmac delays for passengers who have not yet cleared United States Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

SEA has facility constraints that limit our ability to accommodate diverted flights or maintain the airport’s safe operation and strongly encourages aircraft operators to contact the airport at 206-787-4682 for prior coordination of diverted flights, except in the case of a declared in-flight emergency.  During diversion events SEA issues NOTAMs regarding its ability to accommodate diverted flights to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the airport and its ability to serve the civil aviation needs of the public during irregular operations events. 

Contact Information

In the event of diversion or other irregular operations events, aircraft operators should contact the Airport Communications Center at 206-787-4682 for assistance.

Plan to Provide for the Deplanement of Passengers Following Excessive Tarmac Delays

SEA has limited equipment and personnel needed to safely deplane passengers from air carrier aircraft.  Airlines should strive to contact contract service providers, or other air carriers, for assistance in deplaning passengers.  Additionally, airport personnel are not trained to assist in the deplanement of passengers using equipment owned or operated by air carriers or contract service providers. We will provide a list of airlines, ground handlers, and others who may have the necessary equipment and personnel to safely deplane passengers to airlines, as soon as practicable; after receiving requests from such airlines experiencing excessive tarmac delays, at the contact number listed above.

Plan to Provide for the Sharing of Facilities and Make Gates Available in an Emergency

Gate space at SEA is reallocated annually on January 1st. This process establishes a number of common use gates available to all air carriers and a number of preferential gates which are predominantly only available to a single carrier. SEA retains an ability for secondary user access to preferentially assigned gates. We will direct our common use gate lessees, permittees, or users to make gates available to an air carrier seeking to deplane at a gate to the maximum extent practicable. If additional gates are needed the airport will direct aircraft to the off-gate parking positions (predominantly Cargo 5 and Cargo 7). If still additional gates are needed, we will direct tenant air carriers to make preferential gates and other facilities available to an air carrier seeking to deplane at a gate, during those time periods when the tenant airline is not using, or not scheduled to use the gates, to the maximum extent practicable.

Plan to Provide a Sterile Area for Passengers Who Have Not Cleared United States Customs and Border Protection

SEA has a number of gates that provide access to CBP facilities.  Aircraft requiring CBP facilities will be directed to those gates, to the extent practicable.  SEA will define a sterile area capable of accommodating limited numbers of international passengers, for those times when the CBP accessible gates are not available. We will coordinate with local CBP officials to allow international passengers who have not yet cleared United States Customs and Border Protection to be deplaned into the sterile area, to the extent practicable.

Public Access to the Emergency Contingency Plan

SEA will provide public access to its Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan by posting it on the SEA website (

Airport Information

  • Name of Airport:   Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Name and title of person preparing the plan:  Mark Coates, Senior Manager Airport Operations
  • Preparer contact number:   206-787-6864    
  • Preparer contact e-mail:         Date of submission of plan:  June 3, 2022    
  • Airport Category:    Large Hub

Documents for Tarmac Delay Plan

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