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caption: One passenger jet comes in for a landing and in view of a line of planes waiting to takeoff, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.
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One passenger jet comes in for a landing and in view of a line of planes waiting to takeoff, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, in SeaTac, Wash.
Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Sea-Tac Airport prepares following weekend of abnormally long lines

Sea-Tac Airport officials along with the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, say more staff will be on hand at the airport this weekend, following last weekend's long checkpoint lines that stretched far into the adjoining parking garage.

Travelers reported waiting for hours to get through the lines that snaked out of the main terminal and into the parking area. Some reported missing flights. Sea-Tac officials said the average wait time was about 90 minutes.

The TSA said it screened more passengers on Sunday, Sept. 18, than during any other morning since the pandemic started. Sea-Tac Airport officials have called the wait times experienced Sept. 17-18 "unacceptable." After conducting a deep dive into the weekend delays, the Port of Seattle says there were three causes:

  • Maintenance and construction removed two lanes at one checkpoint.
  • Summer travel volumes did not subside as they usually do during this time of year. Sea-Tac says this "reflects changing trends."
  • TSA brought in extra staff from around the USA to handle summer travel volumes. Because airport volumes usually drop about 15% after Labor Day, the extra staff was sent home. But that didn't happen this year and high levels of travelers have continued to use the airport this month.

Looking ahead, there will be more staff on hand this weekend.

Managers are also encouraging travelers to use the SEA Spot Saver app and the Clear and Pre-check options to make sure they can zip through the airport. Checking luggage is another suggestion — fewer items going through checkpoints can speed up the process.