SeaTac airport braces for busiest travel day so far of 2024, next week expected to be worse

SEATAC, Wash. — SeaTac International Airport (SEA) is bracing for its busiest travel day so far of 2024, and it’s expected to get worse throughout the summer, officials said.


SeaTac says it’s expecting more travelers beginning Friday as many students are now kicking off their summer break following the 2023-24 academic school year.

“This is actually our busiest day of the year for 2024, and next week, we’ll go beyond that. So that’s how busy things are getting here already,” said Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for SEA. “Today we’re expecting 179,000 people to go through the airport so that’s actually even larger than our largest day for Memorial Day weekend.”

While Friday’s number is not expected to surpass last year’s record for the busiest day with 198,000 passengers, Cooper anticipates the number of passengers will grow throughout the next several months.

He said he anticipates SeaTac 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.

“Next week on Friday, we’re going to be over 180,000 passengers. So in a week we’ll be exceeding that (Friday’s number) too,” he added. “It just continues to be busy from June until August.”

Cooper said 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, including around Alaska Airline’s check-in kiosks.

“This reduces the number of spaces that you got, basically queue lines back and forth,” said Cooper.

KIRO 7 News spoke with passengers who were trying to catch their flights Friday.

“We’re stuck here so we made ourselves at home,” said Lu Perez as she waited for her flight to northern California. “I work in education so this is our only time off. So, we try to leave the kids and go away from the kids, but we’re still with the kids. We can’t get away from the kids.”

We also spoke with Marci Clement, another passenger who was sitting on the ground near Perez by the security checkpoints.

“We heard it was going to be busy,” said Clement.

“We got the best seats. The only seats available because there isn’t any,” said Perez.


Beginning Saturday, passengers will have access to four new security lanes at checkpoint two and three, which is expected to help with congestion by allowing 600 additional passengers to pass through every hour.

The airport typically sees the most traffic in the morning from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Cooper said. Friday morning’s wait time at security was around an hour, he recalled.

If you’re catching a flight at SeaTac, Cooper is recommending people to arrive at least two hours early before your domestic flight and three hours prior to your international flight.

A substantial portion of the airport’s construction projects is taking place near Alaska Airline’s check-in kiosks -- which handles more than half of the airport’s passengers -- located near the first door.

“If you’re dropping people off on the drives, we’re encouraging people to go further south than the first couple of doors to drop off or pick people up because there’s a lot of congestion with construction going on with the north end of our terminal.”

Once passengers are inside the airport, they can check SeaTac’s mobile app or ask an airport worker on the floor for the latest security wait times.

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