Nearly 800,000 travelers will be going through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday week, with the busiest traffic days just before the holiday and when everyone is headed home.
With traffic increasing overall at Sea-Tac, airport officials ask that travelers pack their patience and be prepared for lines at the checkpoint during the busiest times of the day, according to a Port of Seattle news release.
It’s not the busiest time of the year (the summer is) but it may feel like it for travelers, so Sea-Tac offers these tips and some numbers for a little context.
Holiday traffic numbers
The busiest days for the November holiday season:
• Sunday, Nov. 29, 133,000 passengers
• Wednesday, Nov. 25, 130,000, and Monday, Nov. 30, 126,000
• The lowest traffic numbers will be Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, 82,000.
Other airport tidbits
• Arrive early! Travelers are encouraged to arrive a minimum of two hours before domestic and three hours prior to international flights to ensure time to park, access the terminal, manage the ticketing process and get through security checkpoints.
• The busiest times at the security checkpoints will be between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m.
• For 2015, through October, passenger traffic is up 12.9 percent over 2014, including a 14-percent rise for international traffic. That trend will result in a fifth straight record year at Sea-Tac with a projected total of more than 42 million passengers.
• An average summer day (June-August) this year saw more than 140,000 passengers – the peak air travel time for Sea-Tac. Passenger traffic exceeded four million in one month for the first time ever in June. That record was broken in July and again in August. Traditionally, August is the busiest month of the year followed by July, June and May (December is 5th, November 10th).
Some tips to avoid congestion
• Arrive early
• Think opposite: Pick up on the departure drive, drop-off on the arrivals drive. If traffic is congested, look for the opposite airport drive for relief. Try meeting 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 times are mornings for departures and evenings for arrivals.
• Don’t get stuck in traffic – The airport’s cellphone lot is often full during holiday travel periods and the main parking garage is an alternative worth considering. Park in Terminal Direct for $4 per hour. It’s a short walk to the main terminal, and is the quickest and most convenient option for meeting arriving passengers.