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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Marketplace

Indoor or outdoor? How cannabis growing conditions affect potency and flavor

Seattle store offers insights into Washington’s growing cannabis industry

Why the State Senate needs a nurse

Right now, there are no nurses in the State Senate, and it shows in votes and policies

Enrichment comes full circle: healthy soils, healthy businesses, healthy families!

Home delivery service helps restaurants, farmers, and the people of Puget Sound

Turnkey semi-custom solutions for a home you’ll love coming home to!

Lexar Homes expands home ownership vision to North Bend

Snoqualmie Falls 3 ways: Local artists capture the attraction’s many seasons and moods

See familiar scenes from new perspectives at this Main Street gallery

Show Grand Ridge Plaza What You Got this summer for a chance to win great prizes from GRP merchants! From Aug. 24 to Sept. 6 if you post a photo to Instagram featuring beauty and style at Grand Ridge Plaza (and use the hashtags #Style and #ShowGRPWhatYouGot ) you’ll be entered to win.
                                Setting a wellness goal for the second half of 2020? Grand Ridge Plaza has a range of health and fitness professionals to get you on the right track.
Feeling stressed? Treat yourself to a spa escape, right here in Issaquah!

Grand Ridge Plaza has plenty of beauty + style options to help you rejuvenate

Over the top in community giving

Like most things, the roof over your head needs maintenance to keep… Continue reading

J. Stephan Banchero, III, president of Sound Bites (left) with John Moscrip, chief operating officer, Duke’s Seafood. Sound Bites delivers fresh organic produce, frozen protein and restaurant meals everywhere in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.
Your SOUND choice for produce + restaurant favorites + more, delivered right to your door!

Get a head start with a weekly delivery of local organic produce, proteins, coffee and baked goods

Your neighborhood one-stop-shop for family fun!

Snap some photos of your afternoon at Grand Ridge Plaza for a chance to win

David Good, owner of The Green Door in Seattle. Budtenders at the store will teach you about cannabis and help you find a product that suits your needs.
‘Budding’ chemists: learning the science behind a familiar plant

You probably know THC and CBD, but this Seattle budtender suggests digging deeper

Cool ice cream, hot Thai or breezy cocktails… How does your summer taste?

Show Grand Ridge Plaza what you’re eating this summer for a chance to win awesome prizes!

What makes this cannabis store ‘Seattle’s favorite?’

Long-standing Rainier Street shop has changed with the times, and kept spirits high