MYNORTHWEST NEWS

‘Worse than Disney World’: Sea-Tac wait times go over an hour amid busy Memorial Day travel weekend

May 26, 2023, 3:41 PM

sea-tac wait times...

Travelers pass through security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Wait times for security checkpoints at Sea-Tac reached 65 to 70 minutes on Friday, as tens of thousands of travelers descended on the airport for Memorial Day weekend.

Wait times for TSA PreCheck were listed at around 20 minutes, which many travelers were surprised about.

“Walking, walking, and walking. It’s like a maze,” Hajontaie, who is traveling to Hawaii, said while waiting in a TSA PreCheck line. “It’s like a maze.”

According to a TSA spokesperson, the longest-recorded wait time for TSA PreCheck was 19 minutes.



Hajontaie said it felt more like 40 minutes because he factored in the time it took to find his line, which was one of several lines moving and shifting as more travelers arrived at SEA.

“It’s like a bad snake in your yard. You just don’t want to try and track it down. It’s not fun, man,” he said.

These shifts happen at the endpoints of lines, which can change when more travelers pack the airport.

SeaTac Airport unveils program to help cut TSA security lines

The size of SEA is significantly smaller compared to other international airports, so workers have to change the endpoints of lines for crowd control and safety.

Last September, security lines at SEA reached 150 minutes, with lines wrapping inside the parking garage.

“I appreciate everyone working right now, during the holidays. It’s not easy,” Hajontaie said.

“It is worse than getting to Disney World,” Gladys, who was flying back home to Florida, said on Friday. “You think you’re at the end of the line, and then there’s three or four more.”

Travelers we spoke with at SEA were there during peak hours.

According to a TSA spokesperson, peak hours for Friday, May 26, 2023, were expected at:

  • 5 a.m. – 8 a.m.
  • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Here are some tips to make sure you reach your destination.



The golden rule for traveling this Memorial Day weekend: leave early and pack your patience.

On Friday, one lane in a security checkpoint was forced to temporarily shut down because a possible firearm was found in a carry-on, according to TSA.

It ended up being an Airsoft gun, but anything even resembling a firearm will cause a lane to shut down so law enforcement can investigate.

It’s also a reminder to make sure you don’t bring any prohibited items through security checkpoints, as even a few minutes of a lane closure can cause wider consequences across security checkpoints.

Search for new WA airport location to start over

MyNorthwest News

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

30 minutes ago

burien police chief boe...

Frank Sumrall

Burien police chief resigns for another job outside King County

Burien Police Chief Ted Boe announced his resignation from the Burien Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Tuesday afternoon.

50 minutes ago

Image: A Seattle Police Department vehicle and yellow police tape can be seen outside Garfield High...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Why has no one been arrested in the Garfield High School shooting?

It's been several days and still no arrests have been made in the deadly Garfield High School shooting. Many are asking "Why?"

13 hours ago

Image: A Washington license plate can be seen in a recent photo....

Matt Markovich

Seattle City Council takes steps to expand use of automated license plate readers

A Seattle City Council committee expanded the use of automated license plate readers across the Seattle Police Department's fleet Tuesday.

14 hours ago

Image: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a press conference about hospitals in the state providi...

Matt Markovich

Inslee directive requires Washington hospitals to provide emergency abortion care

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a directive requiring the Department of Health to ensure hospitals provide emergency abortion care.

17 hours ago

Image: Police respond to the scene of a shooting outside the Peachtree Center complex, Tuesday, Jun...

Associated Press

Police: Gunman wounds 3 in Atlanta food court before being shot by officer

A gunman shot three people at a food court in Atlanta before getting shot by a police officer Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

19 hours ago

‘Worse than Disney World’: Sea-Tac wait times go over an hour amid busy Memorial Day travel weekend