‘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

Local News

Sea-Tac airport parking...

Nate Connors

Sea-Tac Airport parking rates going up more than 30%

Sea-Tac Airport parking garage rates are going up more than 30% to $8 an hour beginning this Thursday to help fund capital projects.

8 hours ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

8 hours ago

I-5 semi crash...

L.B. Gilbert

All lanes reopen after semi-truck hits I-5 overpass, falls over in Lakewood

A semi-truck crashed early Thursday, which was creating a backup into an overpass on northbound Interstate 5 in Lakewood, and has now been cleared.

8 hours ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Residents reach breaking point after Auburn apartment complex sees five shootings in five days

One shooting after another is rocking a single apartment complex in Auburn. The most recent shooting at the Copper Gate Apartments happened Tuesday night

8 hours ago

Echo Glen juvenile...

Kate Stone

Echo Glen juvenile escapees to remain in custody in Seattle

All seven juvenile escapees from Echo Glen Children's Center will remain in custody in Seattle, following a judge's ruling.

1 day ago

seattle housing levy...

Frank Sumrall

$970M Seattle Housing Levy moves forward, awaits vote

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda -- alongside a series of affordable housing developers -- announced the renewal of the Seattle Housing Levy.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

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