You and 99,999 other passengers; that’s the averagel crowd on a summer day at Sea-Tac Airport. And it could be even busier this summer season, which traditionally begins Memorial Day weekend.
Last year the airport had a record 33.2 million passengers; this year it’s on track for another record-breaker, according to Sea-Tac Airport spokesman Perry Cooper.
For the Memorial Day weekend, the busiest days are expected to be Thursday, May 23, with 93,200 projected passengers and Friday, May 24, with 95,600 passengers. Then the passenger numbers surge in June through August to an average 100,000 a day (versus 85,000 daily the rest of the year).
Here are some tips from the airport (and me) on how to cope with the Sea-Tac crowds:
Arrive early, at least two hours before your flight to give yourself time to check in (if needed) and get through security. You can go through any of Sea-Tac’s security checkpoints; they all connect to all gates.
Get your boarding pass early. Print it online at home or use the self-serve check-in kiosks in the airport garage or at airline check-in counters.
Pack lightly: If you’re traveling with carry-on luggage only, you can go straight to the security checkpoint which saves time, hassle and money (on checked-bag fees). Just be a good citizen and don’t take a huge carry-on. One incentive: American Airlines has a new policy letting those without roller-wheel carry-on bags to board before many other passengers in order to speed boarding.
Pack for security. Know the TSA rules about what you can’t take in your luggage. Also see if you qualify for the TSA PreCheck program which lets you use a faster security lane.
Check your flight’s status. Sign up for online alerts from your airline; Sea-Tac also has a real-time flight status page.