If you feel like the last time you flew, you waited in that security line at Sea-Tac forever, you are probably right.
The Seattle area’s record growth due to our tech industry and influx of summer travelers have turned our little Sea-Tac airport into a hot mess of long lines and frustrated passengers.
According to this release from Sea-Tac, the airport had a record-breaking 4 million passengers in June, and the yearly totals continue to grow about 13 percent.
That means another record year for Sea-Tac. If the trend holds, officials expect more than 42 million passengers by the end of 2015.
Sea-Tac also reports that the Official Airline Guide notes that it is “the fastest growing airport among the Top 20 U.S. airports based on seats in July 2015.”
International travel is also boosting numbers. Port of Seattle stats also showed that international travel was up 12.7 percent in June. At the end of the year, they fully expect to be the 13th busiest airport in the U.S.
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper told the AP that Sea-Tac’s busiest travel times are during the week with the additional influx of summertime cruise-ship passengers causing the crowds.
In fact, the Port of Seattle is recommending that you arrive two to three hours before your flight, per the website.
But there are some other things you can do to make your trip through Sea-Tac a lot more pleasant.
If you are a frequent domestic air traveler, you should register with TSA’s Pre-Check program. Once you pass an initial screening, you get to cruise through a special line at security, and don’t need to remove your laptop or take off your shoes. Seriously, since I’ve gotten it, I’ve never waited in line at Sea-Tac. This domestic pass alone, which most air carriers recognize, is $85.
If you travel internationally, get a U.S. Customs Global Entry pass. Again, I have yet to wait in line when returning to the United States. As other passengers stare down the lengthy Customs lines, you will be flying past them to a kiosk to scan your passport and re-enter the U.S. without missing a beat. This costs $100 and includes TSA Pre-Check privileges, too.
Yet another option? U.S. and Canadian citizens can check out the NEXUS program, which includes Global Entry. It might take longer to secure your card, but it costs half as much as Global Entry: $50.
In fact, if your company has a significant number of employees traveling often, you might want to have your HR person contact Sea-Tac TSA officials to learn more about how to sign your business travelers up for these programs.
Trust me: They want you to use these express-entry programs. It helps them out, too.
Watch the TSA Pre-Check video below: