SEATTLE — Security lines briefly stretched into the parking garage on both Sunday and Monday mornings at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Port officials say that over the Thanksgiving travel period, TSA wait times averaged 31 minutes. The longest wait time in the last few days was Sunday morning when the general screening line briefly reached 107 minutes.
The last time SEA had lines into the garage was in September, but the reason was different. Airport officials say the TSA was short-staffed and more people traveled after Labor Day than expected.
For Thanksgiving, port officials say the TSA had all the lanes open, but there were many passengers.
“We’re getting back to pre-pandemic numbers, almost there,” said Perry Cooper of the Port of Seattle.
That brings back a pre-pandemic problem: many more passengers than the airport was designed to hold.
To manage overflow crowds within the airport’s small footprint, officials are now consolidating passengers waiting for screening into a single parking garage skybridge and then directing them to the checkpoint with the shortest wait.
The new strategy sends the line beneath the ticket counters so it doesn’t conflict with people waiting for help from an airline agent.
Those lines reached into the garage for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Early morning is the busiest time for departures.
If you’re flying out first thing in the morning, airport officials say it’s especially important that you arrive two hours before a domestic flight.
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