Seattle Airport to Expand with new International Facility

It’s no surprise that Seattle has been one of the fastest growing airports in the country. Passenger traffic has increased dramatically over the past five years, mostly due to the “Battle in Seattle” with Delta and Alaska Airlines, but also to an increased number of international flights coming to the Emerald City. Because of that, the Port of Seattle has been looking for a way to improve the arrivals procedure and make the entire process more modern. As early as 2020, Seattle SeaTac airport will expand with a new International Arrivals Facility able to handle the passenger traffic demands.

I like Seattle’s airport for it’s ease of navigation, variety of shops and lounges, and (relatively) short TSA PreCheck lines. The regular lines are another story, but everyone reading this has PreCheck, right? And while their arrivals facility isn’t so bad (depending on the time of day) if you get 2 Asian carrier flights, an Emirates flight, some Alaska arrivals from Mexico and maybe a Delta European flight all mixed at the same time, it’s bedlam.

Passenger Growth

The number of people visiting the Pacific Northwest has been growing for over a decade. Just look at passenger traffic from 2012-today, from wikipedia:

Year PAX Traffic Growth YoY
2012 32,223,111                   —
2013 34,826,741 8.08%
2014 37,498,267 7.67%
2015 42,340,537 12.91%
2016 45,736,700 8.02%
2017 31,665,965 As of August

If you expand that 2017 number out, it’s going to show an increase over last year as well, and we haven’t even got into the busy holiday travel season yet.

New International Arrivals Facility

The Port of Seattle’s new plan is an ambitious one. In partnership with Clark Construction, they’re looking to build a massive 450,000 sq ft arrivals facility and expand the number of gates they currently have available for international flights from 12 to 20.

SeaTac International Expansion

The idea of course is to make everything more streamlined and efficient, merging all of the bag claim into one easy process and allowing direct access to ground transportation. At the same time, adding more passport check booths is a great idea, so long as they’re properly staffed! There’s nothing more annoying then heading to a bank to make a withdrawal, seeing that there are 12 windows and only 2 tellers.

Domestic/International Walkway

The walkway is going to be the Pièce De Résistance of the entire project, connecting the A gates to the S gates, both for ease of access to the international terminal and connecting domestic travel.

Here’s a current map of the SeaTac airport with the proposed location for the skybridge.

Red arrows to show the new bridge area

The artwork provided by the construction company is absolutely gorgeous. I just hope that the A380’s can fit under there no problem!

Iconic Walkway, Courtesy of portofseattle and clark construction

Iconic Walkway and Arrival Gate, Courtesy of portofseattle and clark construction

In all actuality, I wouldn’t expect the big planes to even come near that bridge. They’re on the outside of the S terminal and only the smaller planes getting to the A concourse would head underneath. Here’s a mockup from the sky to give you a better idea.

Aerial view of new IAG, courtesy of portofseattle and clark construction

Couldn’t come soon enough…

This is a long time coming. The Seattle expansion is much needed, as every time that we find ourselves coming in to Seattle from a long trip abroad, the last thing we want to have to deal with is a crowded, noisy, understaffed international arrivals area. It sets the tone for those visiting the city as a place that is modern and technologically advanced (which we know Seattle is).

International traffic isn’t slowing, in fact it’s just getting started. Condor now flies to Munich and Frankfurt, Aeromexico and Alaska start service to Mexico City, Volaris to Gudalajara, even Thomas Cook will start to Manchester soon.

Are you excited about the new expansion?


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Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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1 Comment

  1. That little map is terrible. The south satellite is not aligned like that. Sloppy work by the airport.

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