Sea-Tac Airport, others see summer surge in number of travelers

Jun 25, 2024, 2:24 AM

Image: Travelers at Seattle Tacoma International Airport line up and try to get through a security ...

Travelers at Seattle Tacoma International Airport line up and try to get through a security chokepoint during a busy day in June 2024. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac Airport) is seeing a summer surge in travel with passengers pouring in and through in June.

On Friday, June 14, Sea-Tac Airport was expected to see 179,000 people travel through the gates. Last Friday, that number of passengers actually was set to increase by 1,000 to about 180,000, KIRO 7 reported.

The estimate for Sea-Tac Airport this summer is for about 15.5 million people to pass through.

Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for the Seattle-area airport told KIRO 7 last week he anticipates it will see 2-3% more travelers this summer compared to the same time period last year and more than 52 million passengers for the entire year – which would break the record in 2019 with 51.8 million passengers.

“It just continues to be busy from June until August,” Cooper said.

Cooper also told KIRO 7 the airport is currently working on 120 construction projects, worth more than $5 billion, over the next five years.

A number of the projects are currently taking up a lot of space inside and outside of the airport.

Chokepoints content: Airport expansion in high gear as summer travel approaches

Air traveler Vincent Tran told KIRO 7 getting around construction is the big issue.

“I think this makes it a little harder, with entering, driving to the airport. I dropped my dad off and he picked me up a few days ago. It took a while to get through,” Tran said.

Martinique Bishop Juviana said to KIRO 7 it was a challenge dropping her sons off for a flight.

“It’s just really crazy if you’re under construction,” she said. “Parking, getting your bags, trying to get to your gate. You gotta be ahead.”

Looking at the number of travelers nationally

The number of air travelers moving through U.S. airports hit a record Sunday, and the new mark might not last through next weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened nearly 3 million people at airpormakets Sunday, breaking a record set on May 24, the Friday before Memorial Day.

Previous coverage: Why was Sea-Tac Airport so busy? Will it get worse?

TSA forecasts that it will break the 3-million barrier on Friday, when many people will be getting an early start on their July 4 holiday travel plans.

“We expect this summer to be our busiest ever and summer travel usually peaks over the Independence Day holiday,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said.

Sunday’s TSA count was 2,996,193, or about 45,000 more than the 2,951,163 who flowed through checkpoints on May 24. Seven of the 10 busiest days in TSA history have occurred this year, as travel continues to roar back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

TSA expects to screen more than 32 million people between Thursday and July 8, the Monday after the holiday, for a daily average of 2.67 million. That would be a 5.4% increase over the July 4 period last year.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing the largest U.S. carriers, predicts that air travel this summer will rise 6.3% over last year.

Contributing: KIRO 7; The Associated Press; Tom Brock, KIRO Newsradio; Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest

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Sea-Tac Airport, others see summer surge in number of travelers