Seattle–Tacoma International Airport

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Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
Sea–Tac Airport
Port of Seattle Logo.svg
Aerial KSEA May 2012.JPG
Sea-Tac Airport in May 2012, looking south
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Port of Seattle
Serves Seattle and Tacoma, Washington
Location SeaTac, Washington, U.S.
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 433 ft / 132 m
Coordinates 47°26′56″N 122°18′34″W / 47.44889°N 122.30944°W / 47.44889; -122.30944Coordinates: 47°26′56″N 122°18′34″W / 47.44889°N 122.30944°W / 47.44889; -122.30944
FAA diagram
FAA diagram
SEA is located in Washington (state)
SEA is located in the US
Location of airport in Washington / United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16L/34R 11,901 3,627 Concrete
16C/34C 9,426 2,873 Concrete
16R/34L 8,500 2,591 Concrete
Statistics (2016)
Passengers 45,736,700 (8.02% up from 2015)
Aircraft movements 412,170 (8.07% up from 2015)
Air Cargo (metric tons) 366,429 (10.16% up from 2015)
Sources: FAA[1] and airport web site[2]

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEAICAO: KSEAFAA LID: SEA), also referred to as Sea-Tac Airport or Sea-Tac (/ˈstæk/), is the primary commercial airport serving the Seattle metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Washington. It is located in the city of SeaTac, approximately 13 miles (21 km) south of Downtown Seattle. The airport, the largest in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, is owned and operated by the Port of Seattle.

The airport has flights to cities throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is the main hub for Alaska Airlines and its regional subsidiary Horizon Air, whose headquarters are near the airport. It is a hub and international gateway to Asia and Europe for Delta Air Lines, which has expanded at Sea-Tac since 2011.

The airport is the 28th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, serving over 45 million passengers in 2016, and is considered one of the fastest growing in the United States and the world.[3] It is categorized in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2015–2019 as a primary commercial service (large hub) airport based on 16,121,123 enplanements in 2012.[4] The airport is the largest generator of vehicle trips[5] in the state, and its 13,000-car parking garage is North America's largest parking structure under one roof.[6]


The airport was built by the Port of Seattle in 1944 after the U.S. military took control of Boeing Field in World War II. The Port received $1 million from the Civil Aeronautics Administration to build the airport and $100,000 from the City of Tacoma. The first scheduled airline flights were Northwest and Trans-Canada in 1947; Western and United moved from Boeing Field in the next couple of years, and Pan Am moved in 1952–53, but West Coast as well as successors Air West and Hughes Airwest stayed at Boeing Field until 1971.

In June 1951 there were four runways at 45-degree angles, between 5,000 and 6,100 feet (1,500 and 1,900 m) long; the northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast runways intersected just west of the north-south runway that eventually became today's runway 34R. Runway 34 was lengthened to 7500 ft in 1951, to 8500 ft by 1958 and to 11900 ft by 1962. Runway 34L replaced runway 2 around 1970.

The April 1957 OAG shows 216 departures a week on United, 80 Northwest, 35 Western, 21 Trans-Canada, 20 Pan Am, 20 Pacific Northern and 10 Alaska. The first jet flights were Pan Am 707s to Honolulu via Portland (OR) in late 1959. In 1966 Scandinavian Airlines began the airport's first non-stop route to mainland Europe (Pan Am nonstops to London began around 1961). The first concourse opened in July 1959.

The two-story North Concourse (later dubbed Concourse D) added four gate positions and a new wing 600 feet (180 m) long and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.[7] The one-story South Concourse (now Concourse A) opened in 1961, adding another 688 feet (210 m) to the length of the airport.[7] The 800-foot (240 m) long Concourse B opened in December 1964. It added eight gate positions, bringing the total to 19, a 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) area housing international arrivals and the offices of U.S. Customs, Immigration, Public Health and the Department of Agriculture.[7] Concourse C opened in July 1966.[7] Just four years later, it was extended to include another 10 gates, bringing the total to 35.[7] The Port embarked on a major expansion plan, designed by The Richardson Associates[8] and lasting from 1967 to 1973, adding a second runway, a parking garage, two satellite terminals and other improvements. In 1973, $28-million new terminal was built over and around the 1949 structure; the new terminal quadrupled the area for public use.[7] On July 1, 1973, the Airport opened two new satellite terminals, along with an underground train system to connect them to the Main Terminal.[9] In the mid-1980s, the Main Terminal was renovated and another 150 feet (46 m) was added to the north end.[7] Concourse D was expanded in 1987 with a rotunda that added four new gates.[7] In 1993, Concourses B, C and D were renovated. The project, designed by NBBJ, included the addition of 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) and the renovation of 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) of space in Concourses B, C and D.[10] On June 15, 2004, the 2,102-foot (641 m) new Concourse A was unveiled with 14 new gates, a dozen new restaurants, new artwork and the airport's first moving sidewalks.[7]

Residents of the surrounding area filed lawsuits against the Port in the early 1970s, complaining of noise, vibration, smoke and other problems. The Port and the government of King County adopted the Sea-Tac Communities Plan in 1976 to address problems and guide future development. The Port spent more than $100 million over the next decade to buy homes and school buildings in the vicinity, and soundproof others nearby. In the mid-1980s, the airport participated in the airport noise-compatibility program initiated by Congress in 1979. Airport-noise contours were developed, real estate was purchased and some homes were retrofitted to achieve noise mitigation.[11]

In 1978 the U.S. ended airline regulation, and U.S. airlines were allowed to determine routes and fares without government approval. Deregulation resulted in new service to Seattle, including from TWA, then the fourth-largest U.S. airline, as well as Delta, National, and American.

After the death of U.S. Senator Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson in 1983, the Seattle Port Commission voted to change the name of the airport to Henry M. Jackson International Airport. Denizens of Tacoma interpreted the change as an insult to their community—the second time in the airport's history that the port authorities had attempted to remove "Tacoma" from the name. The $100,000 that Tacoma had provided for the airport's construction during World War II had come with an explicit promise that the city would be included in the airport's name. The controversy was resolved after polls of Seattle and Tacoma area residents indicated their preference for the original name by margins as much as 5:1. Helen Jackson, the widow of the late Senator Henry M. Jackson, expressed her desire that their family remain neutral in the debate. With a 3–2 vote of the Port of Seattle Commission, the name was reverted to Sea-Tac in early 1984.[12]

SeaTac Airport in September 2007 as runway 16R/34L was under construction (opened November 2008)

In the late 1980s the Port of Seattle and a council representing local county governments considered the future of air traffic in the region and predicted that airport could reach capacity by 2000. The planning committee concluded in 1992 that the best solution was to add a third runway to the airport and construct a supplemental two-runway airport in one of the neighboring counties. Members of the community opposed a third runway, as did the Highline School District and the cities of Des Moines, Burien, Federal Way, Tukwila and Normandy Park, but a 1994 study concluded there were no feasible sites for an additional airport. The Port of Seattle approved a plan for the new runway in 1996, prompting a lawsuit from opponents. The Port secured the necessary permits by agreeing to noise reduction programs and environmental protections. Runway opponents appealed these permits, but dropped their challenges in 2004.

SeaTac terminals

The new 3rd runway opened on November 20, 2008, with a construction cost of $1.1 billion. Parallel to the existing two, the new runway is 2500 ft west of runway 34R, allowing landings on both in times of low visibility. The older runways are 800 ft apart, too close to allow use of both in low visibility.[13]


The three parallel runways run nearly north–south, west of the passenger terminal and are 8,500 to 11,900 feet (2,600–3,600 m) long. In 2008 the airport averaged 946 aircraft operations per day, 89% being commercial flights, 10% air taxi operations and 1% transient general aviation.[14]

Sea-Tac's control tower in 2007
The interior of Sea-Tac's control tower, commissioned in 2004, is 850ft2 (79m2). At center is a radar display; at top right is the light gun

A new control tower was built beginning in 2001 and opened November 2004, at a cost of $26 million.[15] The floor of the new tower's control cab is 233 ft (71 m) above ground level; the tower's overall height including antennas is 269 ft (82 m). The cab has 850 sq ft (79 m2) of space and was designed to support operation by ten controllers, with possible future expansion up to 15. The site and construction method of the tower were designed to maximize visibility and efficacy of radar systems. The airport's original control tower, built in the 1950s, is now located in the airport's passenger terminal and used as a ramp control tower, after being repaired from damages caused by the Nisqually earthquake in 2001.

A recurring problem at the airport is misidentification of the westernmost taxiway, Taxiway Tango, as a runway. A large "X" has been placed at the north end of the taxiway, but a number of aircraft have landed on the taxiway.[16] The FAA issued an alert notice dated from August 27, 2009, to September 24, 2009, urging airplanes about taking precautions such as REILs and other visual cues while landing from the north.

In 2007 the airport became the first airport to implement an avian radar system providing 24-hour monitoring of wildlife activity across the airfield. This pilot program, designed and implemented with the assistance of the University of Illinois Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT), was designed to decrease potentially fatal incidents involving collisions with birds and to provide a test bed for implementation of the technology in the US which was expected to begin in 2009. The technology is part of a strategy to reduce the presence of wildlife on the airfield.[17]

Threatened Southwest Airlines switch

Citing increased landing fees and other costs due to the work at the airport, Southwest Airlines threatened in 2005 to move to nearby Boeing Field. This plan ran into several problems. Boeing Field is a public airport and each airline would have to have equal access, requiring more capacity than available on the airport's single runway suitable for large airplanes. (Boeing Field has a parallel, smaller runway used by smaller aircraft and has cookies in the main terminal.) Major renovations would have been required. While Southwest did indicate willingness to pay for upgrades, there were problems with the transportation infrastructure around Boeing Field, which was not designed to handle traffic in and out of a major passenger airport. It eventually became clear that Southwest Airlines would not fund the necessary transportation improvements and the plan was rejected by King County Executive Ron Sims.[18] Furthermore, there were concerns that the high costs of operating the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport would be increased even further if some airline service were moved to Boeing Field, which was expected to be less expensive to operate for the airlines.

Increased Delta Air Lines presence

Sea Tac terminal buildings with Mt. Rainier in the background

In mid-2014, Delta Air Lines announced plans to rapidly expand Seattle into a transpacific hub. Since then, Delta has added numerous flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, London and dozens of domestic flights to feed those services. By December, Delta expects to offer 95 flights to 33 destinations from Seattle. By the third quarter of 2014, Delta hopes to be the airport's largest sole source of revenue.[19] Delta's increased presence in Seattle has been seen by some industry analysts as a response to United's transpacific hub at San Francisco International Airport. Other analysts speculate that this growth also results from Delta's disenchantment with its Tokyo–Narita hub, citing Japan's diminishing importance in light of the boom in Chinese international travel and the lack of a Japanese partner airline.

Delta's rapid expansion at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport has created some controversy. Many of the new domestic services Delta started offering from Seattle to boost traffic to international flights encroach on routes that Alaska Airlines, a long-time partner of Delta, have historically operated. Additionally, Delta is currently seeking a total of 30 gates at Seattle/Tacoma, nearly triple its current 11 gates, to accommodate its planned growth.[20] As an interim solution to overcrowding, the Port of Seattle has announced the North Sea-Tac Airport Renovation project (NorthSTAR). By 2020, the North Satellite will be expanded by over 240 feet, increasing the terminal's square footage by 181,000 feet and increasing the gate count from 12 to 20.

"We’re making good progress on our discussion to upgrade the facility and to turn Seattle into a huge international gateway for Delta," Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said on a recorded message to employees.[20] President Ed Bastian, in 2014's third quarter earnings call, stated that Delta's decision to cut seats in Cincinnati and Memphis have been producing solid results. "Seattle’s domestic performance has significantly exceeded our expectations as unit revenues increased 6 percent on a 25 percent increase in capacity, driving margin improvements year-over-year," Bastian said. Seattle airport spokesman Perry Cooper has also stated that Delta currently plans to operate around 150 flights a day by 2017.[20] This would require 19 or 20 gates, assuming the airline will operate eight flights a day from each gate. Cooper speculates that if Delta takes on 30 gates, over 240 flights a day could be operated. Ultimately, the success of Delta's growth in Seattle relies on the Port of Seattle's decisions regarding further terminal expansions and gate allocation, which is currently assigned to airlines according to a formula that utilizes their number of outbound flights.


Map of SeaTac's terminal
Central terminal with views of the runways
Alaska and United planes at the North Satellite Terminal
Interior of Concourse D near gates D10 & D11

The airport has a Central Terminal building, which was renovated and expanded in 2003. This project was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects. The airport also has four concourses (A, B, C, D) and two satellite terminals (north and south). The satellite terminals are connected to the central terminal by an underground people mover system. There are five Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at Sea–Tac; one is open 24/7, three are opened based on airline schedules (one is reserved for members of the TSA PreCheck program), and one is reserved for cruise passengers and is open seasonally.[21] Once through security, passengers have access to all gates.

Central Terminal

  • Concourse A has 14 gates (A1–A14)[22]
  • Concourse B has 13 gates (B1, B3–B12, B14–B15)[23]
  • Concourse C has
    • 7 gates (C3, C9, C11, C15, C17–C18, C20)[24]
    • 25 parking slips (C2A–C2M, C10A–C10F, C16A–C16F)
  • Concourse D has 11 gates (D1–D11)[25]

North Satellite Terminal

  • The North Satellite has
    • 10 gates (N1–N4, N6–N10, N16)
    • 6 Parking Slips (N12A–N12F)

South Satellite Terminal

  • The South Satellite has
    • 14 gates (S1–S12, S15–S16)
    • 1 parking slip (S1A)
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities for international arrivals.
      • All international arrivals (except flights from cities with customs preclearance) are handled at the South Satellite Terminal, regardless of their departure terminal.

Satellite Transit System

The airport has a three-line automated people mover (APM) system called the Satellite Transit System (STS). The underground system quickly moves between the passengers within the four concourses of the central terminal and out to the two satellite terminals. Originally opening in 1969, the STS system is the oldest airport people mover system in the United States.

Countries served by flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (includes seasonal and future destinations).

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
Aeroméxico Mexico City (begins November 1, 2017)[26][27]
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson
Air Canada Express Vancouver
Seasonal: Calgary
Alaska Airlines Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Burbank, Charleston (SC), Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fairbanks, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Juneau, Kahului, Kailua–Kona, Kansas City, Ketchikan, Las Vegas, Lihue, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Oakland, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County, Orlando, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Santa Barbara (begins August 27, 2017), Spokane, Tampa, Tucson, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National
Seasonal: Bellingham, Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Sitka
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Albuquerque (begins October 18, 2017), Bellingham, Billings, Boise, Bozeman, Calgary,[28] Edmonton, Eugene, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Kelowna, Lewiston, Medford, Milwaukee (begins August 27, 2017, ends January 3, 2018), Minneapolis/St. Paul (begins November 18, 2017), Missoula, Oakland, Oklahoma City (begins August 27, 2017), Portland (OR), Pullman, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, St. Louis, Santa Barbara (ends August 26, 2017),[28] Santa Rosa, Spokane, Tri-Cities (WA), Vancouver, Victoria, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, Wichita (begins September 18, 2017), Yakima
Seasonal: Colorado Springs, Fresno, Hayden/Steamboat Springs (begins December 16, 2017), Ontario, Sacramento (begins August 27, 2017), San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Luis Obispo, Sun Valley
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Boise, Colorado Springs (resumes January 3, 2018),[28] Dallas–Love (begins August 27, 2017),[29] Fresno, Milwaukee, (ends August 26, 2017, resumes January 3, 2018), Oklahoma City (ends August 26, 2017), Sacramento (ends August 26, 2017), Salt Lake City, San Luis Obispo (resumes January 3, 2018),[28] Wichita (ends September 17, 2017)
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Narita
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
American Eagle Los Angeles
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon
British Airways London–Heathrow
Condor Frankfurt
Seasonal: Munich[30]
Delta Air Lines Amsterdam, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin,[31] Beijing–Capital, Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Detroit, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kahului, Kailua–Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue (begins December 21, 2017),[31] Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New York–JFK, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose (CA), Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Tokyo–Narita
Seasonal: Cancún, Cincinnati, Fairbanks, Fort Lauderdale, Juneau, New Orleans (begins February 10, 2018),[32] Orlando, Palm Springs (begins December 21, 2017),[33] Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Spokane
Delta Connection Billings, Boise, Bozeman, Calgary, Denver, Edmonton, Eugene,[34] Milwaukee,[35] Missoula, Medford (begins October 1, 2017),[36] Orange County, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Redmond/Bend,[31] Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose (CA), Spokane, Tri-Cities (WA), Vancouver, Victoria
Seasonal: Fairbanks, Jackson Hole, Ketchikan, Palm Springs, Sitka, Sun Valley, Tucson
Delta Shuttle Los Angeles, San Francisco
Emirates Dubai–International
operated by SunExpress Deutschland
Seasonal: Cologne/Bonn
EVA Air Taipei–Taoyuan
Frontier Airlines Denver, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Seasonal: Cleveland
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital, Shanghai–Pudong
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, Kahului
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
JetBlue Airways Boston, Long Beach, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Anchorage
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
Lufthansa Frankfurt
Norwegian Air Shuttle
operated by Norwegian Long Haul
London–Gatwick (begins September 17, 2017)[37]
Southwest Airlines Austin (ends January 5, 2018), Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Diego, San Jose (CA)
Seasonal: Atlanta, Houston–Hobby, Milwaukee, Nashville
Spirit Airlines Las Vegas, Los Angeles
Seasonal: Baltimore, Detroit, Houston–Intercontinental
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul
Thomas Cook Airlines Manchester (UK) (begins May 27, 2018)[38]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Los Angeles
United Express Los Angeles
Virgin America Dallas–Love (begins August 27, 2017),[29] Los Angeles, San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic London–Heathrow
Volaris Guadalajara
XiamenAir Shenzhen,[39] Xiamen[39]


China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport on June 10, 2014.
Airlines Destinations
Airpac Airlines Eugene, Vancouver
Amazon Prime Air
operated by Atlas Air
Ameriflight Oakland
Alaska Air Cargo Anchorage, Cordova, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Yakutat
Asiana Cargo Chicago–O'Hare, Seoul–Incheon
Cargolux Calgary, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Prestwick
China Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Miami, New York–JFK, Taipei–Taoyuan
China Cargo Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
DHL Aviation
operated by ABX Air
Cincinnati, Vancouver
DHL Aviation
operated by Kalitta Air
Seoul–Incheon, Los Angeles
EVA Air Cargo Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth
FedEx Express Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Memphis, Oakland, Ontario, Portland (OR)
FedEx Feeder
operated by Empire Airlines
Bellingham, Burlington, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Port Angeles
Korean Air Cargo Chicago–O'Hare, Los Angeles, Seoul–Incheon



Sun Country 737-700 N712SY
Airbus A319Frontier Airlines 'Sebastian the Ferruginous Hawk' (N933FR) at SeaTac with a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 in the background.
Air Canada Bombardier Dash 8–300. Unlike most international flights, which arrive at the South Satellite Terminal, flights from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver have cleared United States border preclearance; therefore, passengers disembark directly at the main terminal.

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from Seattle–Tacoma
(April 2016 – March 2017)
Rank City Passengers
1 Los Angeles, California 1,369,940
2 San Francisco, California 1,031,360
3 Anchorage, Alaska 938,440
4 Denver, Colorado 863,230
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 828,840
6 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 792,500
7 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 728,070
8 Portland, Oregon 668,940
9 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 602,820
10 Spokane, Washington 556,090
Busiest International Routes to and from SEA (2015)[43]
Rank City Passengers Annual Change Carriers
1 Canada Vancouver, Canada 572,092 Increase014.77% Air Canada, Alaska, Delta
2 South Korea Seoul, South Korea 396,425 Increase019.54% Asiana, Delta, Korean
3 United Kingdom London, United Kingdom 346,602 Increase05.23% British Airways, Delta, Virgin Atlantic
4 United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates 278,271 Increase031.7% Emirates
5 Japan Tokyo (Narita), Japan 277,135 Decrease06.27% ANA, Delta
6 Canada Calgary, Canada 260,792 Increase051.77% Air Canada, Alaska, Delta
7 Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands 252,460 Increase01.60% Delta
8 China Beijing, China 239,598 Increase012.75% Delta, Hainan
9 Germany Frankfurt, Germany 228,746 Increase032.96% Condor, Lufthansa
10 Canada Victoria, Canada 196,242 Increase06.79% Alaska
11 Taiwan Taipei, Taiwan 187,996 Increase021.97% EVA
12 China Shanghai, China 159,725 Increase039.75% Delta, Hainan
13 France Paris, France 149,857 Increase021.89% Delta
14 Hong Kong Hong Kong 118,186 Increase064.07% Delta
15 Iceland Reykjavík, Iceland 117,864 Increase011.85% Icelandair
16 Canada Edmonton, Canada 115,941 Decrease08.26% Alaska, Delta
17 Mexico San José del Cabo, Mexico 110,156 Increase0109.03% Alaska, Delta
18 Canada Kelowna, Canada 97,602 Increase02.12% Alaska
19 Canada Toronto, Canada 93,633 Increase019.57% Air Canada
20 Mexico Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 85,744 Increase032.68% Alaska, Delta
21 Japan Tokyo (Haneda), Japan 55,359 Increase02.29% Delta
22 Mexico Cancún, Mexico 50,270 Increase0215.67% Alaska, Delta

Airline market share

Largest airlines at SEA (Apr 2016 – Mar 2017)[43]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Alaska Airlines 16,009,000 40.62%
2 Delta Air Lines 5,538,000 14.05%
3 Horizon Air 4,147,000 10.52%
4 Southwest Airlines 3,369,000 8.55%
5 United Airlines 2,626,000 6.66%

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at SEA, 1966 through 2016[44][45]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1966 2,822,007 1976 6,806,748 1986 13,642,666 1996 24,324,596 2006 29,996,424 2016 45,736,700
1967 3,853,607 1977 7,332,443 1987 14,445,482 1997 24,730,113 2007 31,295,822 2017 17,732,586 (as of May)
1968 4,434,778 1978 8,367,977 1988 14,495,519 1998 25,863,466 2008 32,196,528 2018
1969 4,804,928 1979 9,820,419 1989 15,241,258 1999 27,705,488 2009 31,227,512 2019
1970 4,653,443 1980 9,194,650 1990 16,240,309 2000 28,408,553 2010 31,553,166 2020
1971 4,697,605 1981 9,117,630 1991 16,313,289 2001 27,036,073 2011 32,823,220 2021
1972 4,788,962 1982 9,278,737 1992 17,962,217 2002 26,738,558 2012 33,223,111 2022
1973 5,205,093 1983 10,141,737 1993 18,800,524 2003 26,799,913 2013 34,826,741 2023
1974 5,772,216 1984 10,476,630 1994 20,972,819 2004 28,804,554 2014 37,498,267 2024
1975 6,112,423 1985 11,466,755 1995 22,773,986 2005 29,289,026 2015 42,340,537 2025

Ground transportation and access

Interstate 5 and Interstate 405 converge near the airport, with an easy connection to the airport via State Route 518. The airport offers on-site parking in a 13,000-space garage; numerous off-site parking facilities are located near the airport.

Public transportation

An airport-bound Link light rail train in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel

Seattle's Central Link light rail line serves the airport at the SeaTac/Airport Station with frequent service to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington. The station opened on December 19, 2009, and is connected to the airport terminal via a pedestrian bridge to the airport parking garage.[46] Another pedestrian bridge over International Boulevard is used to access the city of Seatac, nearby airport hotels, and King County Metro buses including RapidRide A Line. A 1.6-mile extension of the Link line south to Angle Lake Station at South 200th Street opened on September 24, 2016.

Tukwila Station, which is approximately 5 miles east of the airport, is served by Sounder commuter rail and Amtrak Cascades regional inter-city rail with service north to Vancouver, Canada, and service south to Portland and Eugene in Oregon. This station can be reached in less than 20 minutes via the Central Link light-rail transferring at Tukwila International Boulevard station to RapidRide F Line bus service.

The airport is also served both by the King County Metro bus system and Sound Transit regional express buses. Taxis (exclusively serviced by Yellow Cab), rental cars and door-to-door shuttle service (serviced by Shuttle Express) are available. All public transit services are located at the end of baggage claim, next to door 00.[47] Bellair Charters also services Yakima and Bellingham. Free parking for the first thirty minutes was discontinued in the mid-1990s.

There is also a scheduled bus service to downtown Vancouver, Canada, through Quick Shuttle, with other pick-up stops at downtown Seattle, Bellingham International Airport, and drop-off stops just inside the Canadian–U.S. boundary and at the Vancouver International Airport.[48]

Rental car facility

A 23-acre (9.3 ha) rental car facility opened on May 17, 2012.[49][50] The facility is located at the northeastern portion of the airport at the intersection of South 160th Street and International Boulevard South. The facility has 5,400 parking spaces[51] and can handle up to 14,000 transactions per day.[51] After the opening of the facility, 3,200 parking spaces in the central parking structure were opened up for general use.[52] Passengers reach the facility on a five-minute trip aboard one of 29 Gillig CNG buses.[51] Previously, only Alamo, Avis, Sixt, Budget, Hertz and National had cars on site; Advantage, Dollar, Enterprise, Thrifty, EZ Rent-A-Car and Fox Rent A Car ran shuttles to off-site locations. Payless Car Rental now has a presence. Customers of Rent-a-Wreck must ride the shuttle to the facility and then board one of the company's shuttles to Rent-a-Wreck's office.[51]

The facility was originally scheduled to open in spring 2011.[53] However, construction was suspended on December 15, 2008, by vote of the Port of Seattle Commission[54] and did not begin again until June 2009.[52][55]

Live music

In 2013, SeaTac launched a program centered around the local music scene, giving local musicians the opportunity to perform in different locations throughout the airport. It has since become a near-daily staple for Seattle-area musicians. The airport hosts an additional 30 entertainers on site along with the daily music program during the Christmas holiday season.

Future development

The South Satellite Terminal has reached its maximum capacity for handling international passengers in terms of immigration check stands as well as customs declaration. The existing facility is used to its full potential yet it continues to be packed with people arriving. Plans have been made for major expansions, such as adding two new baggage claims, as well as increasing from 20 to 30 immigration inspection booths.[56] There is no certainty right now, but there is a plan for a skybridge or tunnel over to the main terminal at Concourse A where passengers will use a new international arrivals area. This is a possible solution to the double claim problem for baggage as well.[56]

The North Satellite Renovation Plan (NorthSTAR)

The North Satellite Terminal has only received limited upgrades and is in need of modernization. The NorthSTAR renovation project includes The North Satellite terminal renovation and several other projects including eight new gates, main terminal improvements, refurbished north satellite baggage systems, and new exterior walkways, stairs and elevators.[57]

Accidents and incidents

  • November 30, 1947: Alaska Airlines Flight 9, a Douglas C-54A en route to Seattle from Anchorage, Alaska, landed in heavy fog and damp conditions after failed attempts at nearby Boeing Field and Paine Field in Everett. The plane touched down 2,748 ft (838 m) beyond the approach area to Runway 20 and sped onto a nearby road, colliding with an automobile and bursting into flames. Nine fatalities resulted from the accident, including a blind woman riding in the car.[58]
  • April 2, 1956: Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2, a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser headed to Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon and points east, experienced reduced power and extreme buffeting shortly after take-off due to an improper setting of the airplane's cowl flaps by the flight engineer. Plans were initially made to land at McChord Air Force Base, but the pilot was forced to make a water landing in Puget Sound east of Maury Island. The plane sank within 15 minutes. Five of the 38 on board died.[59]
  • November 24, 1971: Northwest Airlines Flight 305, a Boeing 727 flying to Sea-Tac from Portland International Airport, was hijacked by a man calling himself "Dan Cooper," later misidentified by the press as "D. B. Cooper." Cooper released the passengers after landing in exchange for $200,000 and four parachutes, ordered the plane back into the air and jumped out over Southwest Washington with the money.[60] To this day, neither Cooper nor most of the $200,000 have been found.
  • January 20, 1983: Northwest Airlines Flight 608, a Boeing 727 flying from Sea-Tac to Portland, was hijacked. The man told a flight attendant that he had a bomb and demanded to be taken to Afghanistan. Federal agents stormed the plane after it landed in Portland for refueling. The hijacker was killed and the box he carried revealed no explosives.[61]
  • April 15, 1988: Horizon Air Flight 2658, a twin-engine de Havilland Canada Dash-8 departing for the Spokane International Airport, experienced a power loss in the number two engine shortly after takeoff. While the crew lowered the gear for landing as they returned to the airport, a massive fire broke out in the right engine nacelle, resulting in a loss of braking and directional control. After touchdown, the aircraft veered off the runway and crossed the ramp, colliding with two jetways before coming to a stop against a third. The aircraft was destroyed by fire on impact. Four of the 37 passengers were seriously injured, but there were no fatalities.[62][63]


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