Airport Pathfinder, Evan Larson, helping travelers at Sea-Tac.

Airport Pathfinder, Evan Larson, helping travelers at Sea-Tac.

How Sea-Tac Airport Helps You Plan for Summer Travel

The summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day form the busiest travel season at Sea-Tac Airport, where 70,000 daily passengers are expected to move through TSA checkpoints most weekends in June, July and August.

The narrow main terminal serves more passengers today than it was built for decades ago, creating uncomfortable crowding during peak hours. With more than one million square feet at Sea-Tac Airport currently being built new or renovated, dramatic improvements are coming next year and in 2021. Major investments will meet future needs for customer service, safety, sustainability and efficiency.

The Port of Seattle and FAA are conducting an environmental review of more than 30 Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) Near-Term Projects that will do just that. Highlights include a new terminal with 19 gates, and an automated people mover to connect the rental car facility, new terminal and main terminal. Near-Term Projects will be complete or under construction by 2027.

In the meantime, you have a family reunion to attend. These tips will help you plan for summer travel and discover something new at Sea-Tac!

Personal support

Additional summer staff, including FSS ambassadors in red and Pathfinders and volunteers in teal green, can help with questions and directions.

We understand how stressful it can be to lose something precious – whether your phone, wallet or a favorite stuffed animal. The Lost and Found is now open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New technology

New automated screening lanes make for more efficient divestiture — the official word for removing keys from your pocket. The Port plans to install seven more automated screening lanes for a total of nine at the airport.

Additionally, new technology for automated checkpoint wait times is better estimating queues at Checkpoints No. 2, 4 and 5. Infrared system tracks lines in real-time and reflects that in flight information displays in the terminal and on the Sea-Tac Airport App home page. Checkpoint No. 3 will be covered by the system later this summer.

Download the Sea-Tac App in the iOS or Android app store for updates on checkpoint wait times.

More space at checkpoints No. 1 and 4

Construction is underway for two additional security lanes – one at Checkpoint No. 4 to be completed by mid-June and one at Checkpoint No. 1 to be completed by early July. Other operational improvements include a better distribution of passengers throughout the terminal and improved passenger queue wait times for TSA Pre✓ (No. 1 and 4) and General Screening (No. 2, 3 and 5).

Improved transportation

Link light rail is the best option to stay out of a traffic jam. Don’t forget the free shuttle cart that helps passengers bridge the distance from the Link Light Trail station at Sea-Tac Airport to the terminal.

Over the past year, stakeholders involved with ground transportation have also been working on Lean Process Improvement to find ways to ease congestion on the airport drives. These efforts, including redirecting app-based ride shares such as Uber and Lyft to drop off on the lower drive, improved congestion on the Departures drive during the early morning hours by as much as 40 percent.

More dining options

Seven restaurants at Sea-Tac Airport offer mobile ordering apps that will get you fed, caffeinated and on your way. If you’re flying a redeye, McDonald’s and QDOBA in the B Gates and Starbucks in Central Terminal are open 24/7.

Fifteen new restaurants opened at Sea-Tac this year! Lucky Louie Fish Shack, Evergreens Salad, Pallino Pastaria, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, and Koi Shi Sushi Bento in the Central Terminal will satisfy every palate. Seattle Made in the C Gates is a one-stop shop for snacks, treats, and gifts by local producers. Le Grand Comptoir is new to C Gates, featuring hand-picked Pacific Northwest wines plus sit-down dining and bistro-inspired foods.

Other fresh additions include Caffe D’arte, Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen and Skillet, serving espresso, Vietnamese cuisine and gourmet comfort foods in the N Gates. Later this year Concourse D will welcome Ballard Brew Hall and Poke to the Max.

Traveler advice

  • Security checkpoint wait times are unpredictable. Arrive two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
  • Pack carry-ons appropriately to avoid delays with re-screening. Electronics larger than a cell phone must be removed from carry-on luggage and limit carry-on food items for faster screening.
  • Avoid driving to the airport. Link light rail is by far the best way to stay out of a traffic jam. Public transit, taxis, airport shuttles or rideshare vehicles are other great alternatives. If you must drive, think opposite. In the morning, drop off passengers on the Arrivals level. In the evenings, arrange to meet passengers on the Departures level. Going opposite gets you out of the traffic crunch.

No matter what’s important to you, Sea-Tac is ready to meet your travel needs with customized tools, must-have resources, dining and shopping recommendations and unique experiences that suit your interests and needs.

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