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Labor Day Holiday Brings Final Rush to Summer Travel Season at SEA Airport – portseattle.org

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The final days of summer are here and you won’t be lonely if you’re traveling through Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) airport for the Labor Day holiday. About 10 percent more travelers will be at the gates over the holiday compared to last year. That’s still 10 percent less than pre-pandemic levels, but travelers won’t notice the difference – it will be busy! With that in mind, SEA Airport is encouraging travelers to think ahead, arrive early, be prepared for congestion, and find ways to make your trip easier with advanced planning or Be a Hero at the Airport!
Parking will continue to be a challenge as more travelers have been using their own vehicles, although our new automated parking guidance system now has four of the eight floors completed! Alternate ways to get to SEA are encouraged such as using rideshares, Link Light Rail, and public transit. Please factor in more time to avoid tight squeezes to get to your flight. Better early than late!
Labor Day holiday passenger numbers are expected to be 10 percent higher than in 2021 — that’s about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels from 2019. Volumes in August have been ahead of July with a projection of about 4.7 million passengers for the month (compared to nearly 4.6 million for July). Through July, overall passenger traffic for 2022 reached 25.4 million, down 13.8 percent from 2019 levels (29.5 million), but up 37% from 2021 (18.5 million).
A couple of additional interesting facts in the numbers:
The busiest days are expected to be Friday, September 2, with a forecasted 155,000 passengers traveling through the airport (departing, arriving, and connecting). The next busiest will be Thursday, September 1, projecting 149,000 overall passengers through the airport, followed by Monday, September 5 with a projected 146,000 travelers through the airport. Pre-pandemic passenger numbers reached as high as 185,000 per day during Labor Day weekend in 2019. Overall, the busiest days to travel are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays, with TSA security checkpoints busiest at SEA from 5 – 10 a.m., 2 – 5 p.m., and 9 -11 p.m. 
SEA’s latest forecasts of passenger numbers for 2022 will be about 10% below 2019 levels with 2023 down 3% returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. Dig in more on our Statistics page.
Why is parking so congested? Demand is up and supply is down. More customers are driving private vehicles than choosing ride share or public transit. Pandemic-related closures reduced the number of parking stalls in the area outside the airport while a garage improvement project and a recent fire has led to temporary reductions at the SEA garage. Shuttle bus driver shortages also continue to impact the availability of off-site parking options for airport employees.
Vehicles are encouraged to use the new reconfigured cellphone lot and avoid dangerous parking along the shoulder of the airport drives. Violators will be cited as the Port of Seattle Police are working with the Washington State Patrol for emphasis patrols during the holiday.
Pro tip: Switch it up to speed it up! If an airport drive is congested use the other one that’s open to pick up and drop off passengers!
Perry Cooper | Port of Seattle Senior Media Officer
(206) 787-4923 | cooper.p@portseattle.org
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