Unlike some other places around the country, this is not the busiest time of the year at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but sometimes it can feel like it. Why? We don’t have as many overall passengers but we do have a lot of inexperienced travelers who may only fly once or twice a year – inexperience can back up checkpoint lines. Plus, picking up relatives for the holidays means more traffic on the airport drives [see tips below for picking up out-of-town arrivals].
Holiday Traffic Numbers
The busiest days for the November holiday season:
–Wednesday, Nov. 27, Tuesday, Nov. 26, Sunday, Dec. 1, and Monday, Dec. 2 – each could approach 90,000 projected passengers coming in and out of the airport.
–The lowest traffic numbers will be Thursday, Nov. 28 (58,300).
Additional Sea-Tac Airport Traffic Notes:
— An average summer day (June-August) will see over 100,000 passengers and is the peak air travel time for Sea-Tac. August is traditionally the busiest month of the year followed by July, June and May (December is 7th, November 10th).
— For 2013, through September, passenger traffic is up 4.7% over 2012, including an 11.1% rise for international traffic. That trend will result in another record year at Sea-Tac with a projected total over 34 million!
Tips for avoiding congestion on the drives
Sea-Tac will continue a series of actions implemented last year to reduce the congestion on the airport drives, from adjusted signage to traffic metering by Port of Seattle Police. Of significant note, shuttles for the Rental Car Facility have reduced the number of vehicles on the drive by 160,000 each month or 1.9 million for the year.
Below are some effective tips for avoiding the congestion:
— THINK OPPOSITE! Pickup on the departure drive, drop-off on the arrivals drive – If traffic is congested, look for the opposite airport drive for relief. Try meeting your arriving guests one level up from baggage claim at the less-crowded departure drive. Those with only carry-ons can go straight out the ticketing level. For drop-offs, reverse it. Go to the arrivals drive and travelers only have to go up one level to ticketing. Remember, the busiest periods are mornings for departures and evenings for arrivals.
— Don’t get stuck in traffic! — Park on the Terminal Direct floor of the airport parking garage, the quickest and most convenient option for meeting passengers in the terminal, and pay just $4 per hour. Or use any other floor for $3 per hour.
— Try the cell phone waiting lot — Parking in this lot is free and drivers can wait up to 30 minutes until arriving passengers have deplaned, collected luggage and called to be picked up outside of Baggage Claim. Take advantage of the posted QR code to scan for the most recent flight arrival information. Remember, there is no parking or waiting allowed on the airport roadway shoulders.
Save on holiday parking rates
We’re gearing up for the busy holiday travel season at Sea-Tac, so plan ahead to beat the airport traffic and enjoy extra savings on our regular parking rates! Now through Jan. 15, 2014, take advantage of our holiday parking deals and park for only $99 a week (up to seven days) in General Parking. Minimum 4 day stay required. Sign-up now to get your coupon from the airport website. Sea-Tac’s parking rates are all inclusive, with additional charges or fees, and no shuttle to slow you down.
General Travel Tips
— Do Some Advance Planning – Confirm your travel details and make sure the name on your boarding pass and your government-issued ID match.
— Pack with Security in Mind – Know what is and isn’t allowed in carry-ons and checked luggage by checking the TSA website. Also see if you qualify for the new TSA PreCheck program.
— Get your Boarding Pass Early – Print it online before you arrive or use convenient check-in kiosks in the airport garage or at airline check-in counters. Passengers with only carry-on baggage can go directly to the security checkpoint. Passengers with luggage can go to airline bag-check points.
— Check the status of your flight online or via email notification – Check our flight status page for updates online or through email alerts.
— Arrive at least two hours before your flight – give yourself time to get through security.
— Park in the Airport Garage – Save time, stay dry and be close. No shuttles, covered skybridges and you are right next to the terminal.
Traveling Internationally? Sign-up for Global Entry
Frequent international travelers can significantly speed up their clearance process through U.S. Customs and Border Protection by enrolling in Global Entry, an expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. A five-year membership is only $100. Visit the Global Entry website for more information.