Sea-Tac Airport Prepares for Spring Break Rush

Here’s what travelers need to know when traveling for business or pleasure this spring

The Port of Seattle estimates more than half a million travelers will pass through the terminals at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport bound for destinations both foreign and domestic in the next several weeks.

The increase in traveling college students and vacationing families with school-aged children certainly will add to the congestion at security checkpoints as well as curbside drop-off and pick-up zones. The busiest travel days will be Thursdays and Fridays when the port estimates 137,000 to 146,000 passengers will depart from the airport. Toward the beginning of April, estimates rise to more than 150,000.

The bulk of departure congestion occurs from approximately 4:30 to 7:30 a.m. and midday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the evenings, locals picking up visiting guests will experience heavy traffic in the arrivals area from approximately 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

To help travelers (and their drivers) navigate the increase in wait times and traffic, the Port of Seattle offers the following tips.

  • Park and Ride: Park at nearby Tukwila Link Light Rail station and ride the last mile to the airport to meet arriving guests.
  • Go Opposite: In the morning, drop off passengers at arrivals, in the evenings, arrange to meet passengers at the departures level.
  • Park and Walk: Sea-Tac has one of the largest parking garages in the region, consider parking and walking to the terminal to meet guests.
  • Go Early: The port suggests arriving two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. Travelers are encouraged to check in for flights online and print boarding passes at home. Some carriers will even allow passengers to print luggage tags in advance.
  • Be Ready for Security: Don’t wait until you get to the front of the line, remove all electronics larger than a cell phone from carry-on luggage.
  • Be Mindful of Food: While it is okay to bring food through security, it can slow down the screening process. Unless you plan on eating your food items on the flight, pack food items in checked luggage, instead.

For more tips, as well as construction updates, visit Sea-Tac Airport online.

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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