SEA Airport under construction as peak travel season begins

Memorial Day signals the start of the summer travel season, but for those flying through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), navigating construction zones is now part of the journey. 

With numerous projects underway, travelers are advised to brace themselves for potential delays and plan accordingly.

FOX 13 toured the construction areas expected to have the most impact on travelers. SEA is currently undergoing extensive renovations, with 120 projects in progress. The aim is to complete these projects by the time of the World Cup in 2026.

Terminal Operations Manager Sabin Mudaliar warned travelers to "be ready for change."

Inside the airport, a $5 billion investment is driving the construction efforts. Lance Lyttle, the aviation manager director, emphasized the goal of enhancing the passenger experience and positioning SEA Airport as one of the nation's premier airports.

"We're trying to make the airport not feel like you're in a construction zone," Lyttle said. "You see renderings of what the airport is going to look like the future."

However, passengers should prepare for long-term disruptions, as construction is expected to continue for the next 10 to 20 years. Gregg Carrey, the assistant director of project management, explained that the airport must remain operational throughout the construction period.

"We won't affect customer experience moving through," Carrey said. "We're not performing any dangerous work above anybody, safety is number one." 

One notable change for travelers is the closure of Checkpoint 3 to accommodate the installation of new TSA devices, which will increase screening efficiency. Additionally, passengers can expect to encounter scaffolding, temporary walls, and signage directing them through the evolving airport landscape.


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"Ask for help," Mudaliar said. Additional staff is standing by to help you navigate the changes. 

Despite the challenges posed by ongoing construction, SEA Airport is gearing up for a busy summer travel season, with record-breaking passenger numbers anticipated. 

The busiest days are expected to be the Friday before Memorial Day, with 173,000 travelers expected, nearing pre-pandemic levels.

"This summer, we’re expecting record-breaking numbers," Lyttle said.

"We got a lot of new routes starting extra cap for a lot of the airlines. It's going to be great international here for us at SEA," Mudaliar said.

Looking ahead, SEA officials are also considering the impact of the 2026 World Cup, which is projected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Seattle and western Washington. Despite these anticipated crowds, travelers are advised to remain calm and allow extra time for navigation.

"We’re constantly talking about the World Cup and getting work done ahead of that," Carrey said.

The 2026 World Cup is expected to draw an estimated 750,000 people to Seattle and Western Washington. 

To mitigate potential delays, travelers are encouraged to utilize alternative transportation methods such as the light rail or rideshare apps. Additionally, services like Spot Saver allows travelers to reserve their spot in line in advance, offering convenience during the construction chaos.

Travelers are encouraged to arrive at the airport two hours before their domestic flight and three hours before flying internationally. 

How does Spot Saver work? 

SEA Spot Saver is available daily from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Checkpoints 2 and 5 for departing flights. All appointments from 6 to 10 p.m. are only available at TSA Checkpoint 2. Appointments are available from 240 to 60 minutes before departure. Slots are limited and may book up fast so we recommend booking up to five days before your flight.

To use Spot Saver: 

  1. Schedule your appointment up to 5 days before your scheduled departure OR sign up at the airport by scanning the QR code on SEA Spot Saver signs throughout the airport
  2. You'll receive a QR code that you can use when you arrive at your scheduled time. Check your email for a copy that you can return to later!
  3. Head to your assigned checkpoint (either 2 or 5) at your scheduled appointment time! We'll screen you from there. You can use our interactive map for step-by-step directions and go through screening.

Folks who are looking for parking can now reserve their spot too.

Parking at SEA Airport 

Reserved Parking is now available on Floor 4 of the garage. Reserve your parking in advance of arrival with peace of mind that there will be space available in the dedicated Reserved Parking area of the garage upon arrival.

Reserved parking costs $47 a day. The overstay hourly rate is $10. General parking on floors 1-3 and 5-8 starts at $8 an hour and goes for $37 a day. Weekly parking costs $222.

Travelers may leave their vehicles for extended periods. Travelers parking for more than 30 days must reserve online or make special arrangements through the SEA Airport's Public Parking Office, (206) 787-5308. Without these arrangements, the vehicle may be considered abandoned and could be towed at the owner's expense.

There's also a cellphone lot for those waiting to pick someone up. 

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