Why is Sea-Tac Airport so busy this week?

Jun 23, 2023, 11:03 AM

Sea-Tac Airport busy...

Sea-Tac Airport seeing record numbers of travelers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

We traditionally think of the holidays as the busiest air travel days of the year. But, Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) officials are telling us that this week could be record-setting.

“When the schools are out, everybody’s like, let’s get out of town. So we see that with our numbers every year,” SEA spokesperson Perry Cooper told the Gee & Ursula Show. “I think Tacoma is out this week. Seattle’s out next week. When the major school districts are out, everybody starts to head out. And that’s the start of our busy season from now until the end of August.”

Sea-Tac Airport readies for busiest travel day ever

Cooper said that leisure travel is the main reason for the uptick.

“Right now we are seeing busy periods, like Memorial Day weekend. Those periods are now seeing levels at 2019 pre-pandemic levels,” Cooper explained. “We’re not expecting for the year to reach that full amount. But we’re expected for the summer here to be at or potentially above those numbers.”

He said if we don’t get the record high at Sea-Tac Friday, it’s going to come soon.

“Because it’s going to come sometime and probably be broken again and again throughout this summer.”

Cooper said there are a lot of things people should think about when flying to make their experience smooth.

“Get here early. And when we talk about early a lot of folks forget, it’s about getting into the terminal,” Cooper said. “So one of the biggest struggles that a lot of folks may have is how am I going to park? How am I going to get there, if you’re going to go through an off-site lot and try and have a shuttle or if you’re going to jump on light rail, which is a great option. Or if you’re going to try and park sometimes that’s going to take you longer than you expect.”

Cooper said you have to build all those factors into the equation when you are headed to the airport.

“We would rather have you get here early and get through all of your checking in with your bags and through the security checkpoints early and then hanging out for your flight versus being in one of those lines and go ‘Shoot. I’m now only half an hour away from my flight. What am I going to do?'”

What is a good way to save time at Sea-Tac Airport?

Cooper suggests the SEA Spot Saver program to assist you in flying.

“We actually developed it here. First one in the world to do that here at Seattle [and] now other airports around the country and around the world are using it. It’s called virtual queuing,” Cooper explained. “You can reserve up to five days in advance a 15-minute slot for general TSA screening, and you can just go show up in that 15-minute slot. If you’ve got TSA PreCheck or Clear or Global Entry, you’re already jumping ahead of the line for that. So if you got an opportunity to do those, do those. But if you’re only in general screening, jump on the reservation for SEA Spot Saver.”

Cooper said you should arrive at the terminal two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

chef jordan junebaby...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Does everyone deserve a second chance? It’s complicated

Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan, once a national media darling after winning two prestigious James Beard awards, appeared on the Gee and Ursula show Tuesday.

4 days ago

chef jordan junebaby...

L.B. Gilbert

Accused chef Edouardo Jordan ‘wants to be accountable,’ reopens restaurant

On June 13, 2021, a Seattle Times article came out where five women alleged that Jordan had groped them at work.

4 days ago

(Design by )...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Seattle Chef Edouardo Jordan responds to sexual misconduct allegations on Gee & Ursula

In 2021, two-time James Beard Award winning Chef Edouardo Jordan was accused by over a dozen women of sexual misconduct at work. Edouardo decided to stay in Seattle, and joined Gee and Ursula to discuss this event and the last couple of years for him.

4 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Gee explains why people should be dating nerds

Gee Scott discussed with Ursula today why ladies should be dating nerdy guys instead of bad boys. Listen to Gee and Ursula, weekdays from 9am to 12pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3fm!

5 days ago

food bank volunteers doug baldwin...

L.B. Gilbert

Doug Baldwin looks to foster ‘connected community’ with food bank volunteers

With local food banks struggling to find volunteers and gather donations, a Seahawks legend is taking action.

8 days ago

police woman killed comments...

L.B. Gilbert

Gee & Ursula: Police culture to blame for comments on woman killed by SPD car

Controversial body camera footage from an SPD officer responding to the scene of a woman killed in a crosswalk was released Monday. 

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Why is Sea-Tac Airport so busy this week?