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Traveler Updates and Tips

Traveler Update: Dining and Retail Closures in North Satellite due to Construction

Effective May 1, 2019 all dining establishments will be closed in the old North Satellite facility – Seahawks 12 Club, Starbucks, Hudson Gifts, Burger King, and Great American Bagel Bakery. There will be a small Hudson grab and go option on the far east of the building near N4 and the restrooms. We encourage all travelers to be aware of the changes and give themselves time to head over to the new facility to try new offerings – Skillet, Bambuza, Caffe D’arte, a grab and go at the entrance and New Stand. Navigate the terminal with our interactive map and read more on the North Satellite's construction project here.

Traveler Tips: Come early, be prepared and discover something new

Over 15.6 million travelers will pass through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this summer, nearly one-third of the passenger total for the year, or an average of nearly 170,000 passengers per day. The busy season kicks into gear the weekend of June 14 when several local school districts break for summer vacation. With construction underway on one million square feet of new or renovated facilities, Sea-Tac Airport advises summer passengers to prepare for your trip and discover something new at Sea-Tac Airport. These tips will help you get through Sea-Tac Airport efficiently during your travels. Here are some great ideas on how to get to the airport, through security checkpoints, and find what you need in the terminal quickly.

Be in the Know

  • Use the Apps - Check out the new Sea-Tac Airport App to watch security checkpoint wait times, search for your flight, help find your way around the terminal with an interactive map that helps you find and direct you to all of our restaurants, lounges, amenities, retail spaces and more. The app is available for free on iPhone and Android, see other apps that help you navigate and enjoy the airport.
  • Sign up for Text Alerts - Get text updates about what's happening at the airport by texting "UPDATE" to 206-347-8045
  • Check out all of our Channels - Find the latest information on our social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as our website! Utilize all of our digital media channels.
  • Plan Ahead  —  Not only getting to the airport but also picking up, dropping off, and getting through checkpoints. The busiest travel days will be Thursdays and Fridays. Congestion tends to also occur during holidays, arrive early to allow time to travel in case of traffic. From June 4 through September 4, over 15.6 million passengers will go through Sea-Tac Airport, exceeding just over 15 million for the summer of 2018, a four percent increase. That’s an average of 170,000 passengers a day through the airport. In fact, July and August of last year were the first months ever with total passengers in excess of five million. We are expecting the same this year.

Getting To the Airport

  • Check for Roadway Construction Updates  For any possible traffic impacts, see all of the traffic and roadway construction alerts from WSDOT that could impact you getting to Sea-Tac Airport. Be sure and check with the City of SeaTac to see if there are any road construction projects that might hinder your access to the airport.
  • Avoid driving during peak traffic congestion - often occurs on the Departure level 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 Arrival and Departure drives experience backups. In the evenings, the Arrivals drive experiences heavy traffic from about 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Congestion tends to also occur during holidays, arrive early to allow time to travel in case of traffic. Going to the opposite drive of the congestion helps get you out of a traffic crunch or use other modes of transportation to get to the airport.
  • Go 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. Another example — many arriving passengers do not check bags so they are already on the Departures level when they exit, and easy to pick up. 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.
  • Take Link Light Rail, a bus or shuttle to the airport — Public transportation is by far the best option if you want to stay out of a traffic jam. Use Link Light Rail to travel all the way to the airport or meet your party at one of the nearby stations. Tukwila and Angle Lake stations offer free parking one stop away to avoid airport traffic headaches. There is a free shuttle cart service for those who may need the extra help from the Link Light Rail station to the airport terminal. Taxis, airport shuttles or ride-share vehicles are other options as well, see more information on ground transportation at Sea-Tac.
  • Park and Walk — Park at the Sea-Tac Airport garage and walk into the terminal. For travelers, receive discounted parking rates by signing up for our parking coupons.
  • Arrive Early  Travelers are encouraged to leave plenty of time to get to the airport, check in for their flight, and clear security.  Plan on arriving at the airport at least two hours in advance for a domestic flight, and three hours for international travel.  To save time, it’s suggested that travelers check in for their flights and print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport.  Some airlines allow passengers to print luggage tags in advance.  This saves time at the ticket counter.
  • Port of Seattle Police officers patrol the Airport Expressway to prevent motorists from parking on the shoulder, and additional Traffic Support Specialists will be deployed on the Arrivals and Departure drives to assist with traffic flow.

Be Prepared for Security Checkpoints

  • Be ready for security checkpoints — Once travelers get to the airport, Sea-Tac and its partners in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) want to help you move through security checkpoints as quickly as possible. Enhanced security measures are now in effect at Sea-Tac and airports nationwide require travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry on luggage. 
  • Properly Store Food for Screening While it’s okay to bring food with you, sometimes food items can slow down the screening process. Sea-Tac recommends that unless you plan on eating it in the airport or on your flight, consider packing food in your checked luggage.  Keeping food or liquids in your carry-on luggage might have to be screened twice.
  • Sign up for Trusted Traveler Programs such as TSA Pre, Global Entry, and CLEAR to get you through the lines faster. These expedited security programs help for both domestic and international travel, including a faster way through customs with Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control.

What’s New in the Terminal

  • Indoor Pet Relief Areas have been installed inside the terminal for easier customer access and compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Find them in the North and South Satellite and Central Terminal near Concourse B. Check our website for an up-to-date map and info
  • Blind and low vision travelers can try new assistive technology with Aira, with the Port providing free connection service while at the airport.
  • A better experience for traveling mothers  — Sea-Tac now has seven nursing suites throughout the airport.
  • New dining and retail options  Sea-Tac Airport opened 15 new dining options so far this year as of Spring 2019! Lucky Louie Fish Shack™, Evergreens Salad, Pallino Pastaria, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, and Koi Shi Sushi Bento are new quick service eateries in the Central Terminal that are sure to satisfy every palate. Other fresh additions include Caffe D’arteBambuzaVietnam Kitchen, and Skillet that are serving up espresso, Vietnamese cuisine and gourmet comfort foods in the N Gates. Plus, Le Grand Comptior on Concourse C, serving hand-picked Pacific Northwest wines as well as sit down bistro-inspired foods. Also, later this year Concourse D will see the opening of Ballard Brew Hall and Poke to the Max. More retailers and restaurants are always on the way! 
  • Gourmand-on-the-go! Dining options throughout Sea-Tac like Evergreens Salad, Qdoba and Beecher's offer online and mobile ordering - explore all seven. Several of our fast casual restaurants such as Camden Foods Co., McDonald's and Pei Wei Asian Kitchen offer ordering kiosks for travelers to skip the line.

    What is Sea-Tac doing to help the congestion?

    • Hired over 30 additional customer service staff for summer rush – Questions? Ask one of our staff in red or teal – they are the experts who are here every day. For example, the shortest line at the checkpoints isn’t always the fastest. The fastest line may be longer because that checkpoint has more lanes to process travelers. Our staff will direct you to the best option.  
    • Automated screening lanes (ASLs), expanded lanes and improved tech – More efficient processing with ASLs is now available at checkpoints #5 and #2. Meanwhile, checkpoint #4 adds a new lane in mid-June and checkpoint #1 will add another lane by early July, both for TSA PreCheck travelers. In addition, we upgraded checkpoint technology with infra-red sensors that provide more accurate, real-time wait times. Learn more about ASLs and how to use them.

    Planning for the future

    • What’s all that construction? With $3.7 billion worth of more than 100 projects underway now, change is on the horizon. Passengers will continue seeing something new at Sea-Tac Airport every 90 days. In just the last five months alone, Sea-Tac Airport opened 15 new restaurants. Major ongoing projects that make travel more efficient, expand passenger space, and offer new amenities. We’ve got some major projects underway, including North Satellite Modernization, Central Terminal RenovationInternational Arrivals Facility, and one you don’t see, the Baggage System Upgrade.
    • The Port of Seattle and FAA are also conducting an environmental review of more than 30 Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) Near-Term Projects that will improve efficiency, safety, access to the airport. Highlights include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover with three stations to connect the rental car facility, new terminal, and main terminal. Near-Term Projects will be complete or under construction by 2027.

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