Get ready for spring travel with these helpful SEA airport tips

Give yourself plenty of time, parking will be tight, find other ways to get to SEA

Spring has arrived and travelers are back on the plane!

Air travel is close to pre-pandemic levels by mid-April. keep the spring in your step by giving yourself more time. Parking will be a challenge, and your best option may be to use other means to get to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

In numbers

Spring break travel volumes are expected to be 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019. That’s near the busiest days we’ve seen since the pandemic hit in August of last year. For Spring Break, high volume days are expected throughout each week, with Thursdays and Fridays being the busiest. The highest volumes will see up to 140-145,000 passengers per day passing through the airport. Pre-pandemic passenger numbers reached 160,000 per day in the spring of 2019. SEA expects passenger numbers for the year to be around 6% below 2019 levels with a near full recovery in 2023 to around 1 % less than in 2019.

It may have been a while since your last flight at the airport, but don’t underestimate how long your experience will be during peak periods. Travelers can find stress-free ways to skip the lines and make their trip more predictable.

What’s the best advice for travellers?

  • Arrive early! Two hours before boarding time for a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
  • Masks are still mandatory at the airport – The federal mandate to wear masks on public transportation is in effect until April 18, 2022. Although local regulations no longer require it, continue to wear your mask over your nose and mouth while traveling. And check your destination’s COVID-19 requirements for entry. Visit XpresCheck if tests are required for your destination, they are available at baggage claim.
  • SEA airport car park is busy. Consider alternative modes of transportation to get to the airport or arrive 45 minutes extra early to find a stand
  • Use SEA Spot Saver to secure your spot in the TSA line and avoid crowded security lines at the airport.
  • Download (or update!) the flySEA app to get alerts, maps, information and more.
  • Use Order SEA, our mobile ordering service, including door-to-door food delivery from the entire airport.

Other Ways to Get to SEA Airport

  • Take the hassle out of driving with Sound Transit’s light rail transit. Public transport is by far the best option if you want to avoid traffic jams.
  • Take a ride with app-based taxis or rideshares like Uber and Lyft, or other ground transportation.
  • Rent your own ride. All car rental companies operate from an off-site rental car center where dedicated shuttles transport passengers free of charge 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Pedal power! Yes, you can even cycle to the airport with bike racks and two ways to get to the airport by bike.
  • If you still plan to park, allow 45 to 60 minutes to find a space. Off-site parking lots should also be very busy or already full.
  • If you are picking up or dropping off relatives:
    • Check out the new and improved batch of cell phones! The new ramp is a game changer with better flow for entry and exit, you can pick up your passengers more easily. Use it instead of parking on the shoulder, which is dangerous and illegal!
    • Travel tip! Use the Departures Promenade for overnight pickup and the Arrivals Promenade for morning passenger drop-off.

Airport parking will be a challenge

Why is the parking lot so crowded? Demand is up and supply is down. More customers drive private vehicles than choose carpooling or public transit. Pandemic-related closures have reduced the number of parking spaces in the area outside the airport, while a garage improvement project and a recent fire have resulted in temporary reductions at the SEA garage. The shortage of shuttle drivers also continues to impact the availability of offsite parking options for airport employees.

Safety first, avoid over shoulder parking

Vehicles are encouraged to use the new reconfigured mobile phone parking lot and avoid unsafe parking along the shoulder of the airport driveways. Violators will be cited as the Port of Seattle Police is working with the Washington State Patrol to emphasize patrolling during the holidays.

Give me the basics of the traveler

  1. The CDC’s advice for travelers changes depending on your COVID-19 vaccination status. Check with your airline for the state or country where you plan to travel.
  2. Be prepared for security checks. SEA and TSA want to help you get through security checkpoints as quickly as possible. Travelers are required to remove electronic devices larger than a cell phone from carry-on baggage. Also remove food and liquids from your carry-on baggage, be prepared to hold your boarding pass for examination, and wear your mask. You can also view the latest identification and documentation requirements.
  3. Need Continued travel tips? Our Customer Care team has the best advice for navigating SEA like a great traveler.
  4. SEA is adding new services to make travel more accessible and improve the travel experience beyond Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Check out our SEA social story developed for travelers with sensory sensitivities such as autism, as well as great general tips for kids. Learn more about accessibility at SEA. The interactive map on the flySEA app offers accessible routes.
  5. Check with the City of SeaTac to see if there are any road construction projects that may impede your access to the airport.


Perry Cooper | SEA Airport Press Officer
(206) 787-4923 | [email protected]