During peak periods, the SeaTac Airport team suggests you plan for at least 45 minutes to get through the checkpoints, potentially up to an hour.

During peak periods, the SeaTac Airport team suggests you plan for at least 45 minutes to get through the checkpoints, potentially up to an hour.

Arrive at the airport early!

Many travelers have heard the standard refrain for busy travel periods – get here two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before an international flight. But you may not understand the details of what that really means. Here’s a quick rundown to help you on your next trip.

When we talk about coming in early, we’re speaking about the entire travel experience — from parking your car or taking transit, getting to the terminal, checking in with your airline, dropping off bags, and getting through the security checkpoints. Frequent travelers have this down to a science. Practice makes perfect and, honestly, they’ve learned from mistakes to get it just right.

For the rest of us, think of this process in simple steps. Take each step into account, add up the time and think backwards from your flight boarding time, not the departure time.

Step 1: Calculate Your Arrival

Think about your travel style and when you want to arrive at the gate. Many airlines begin boarding 30 minutes before departure, so work back from that time, rather than the flight departure time. Do you like to get in early so you can get a bite to eat, drink some coffee, and read a bit before your flight? Or are you the type that likes to arrive just as everyone is boarding? Or something in between? Work back from that boarding time and arrive at least two hours for a domestic flight and at least three hours for an international flight.

Step 2: Define Transit Times

Do you park at the airport garage and walk in? Maybe that takes you 10 to 15 minutes. Do you go to an off-site lot and shuttle in? Plan for 20 to 25 minutes for that process. Or, if you take light rail or other transit, don’t forget to calculate your time to walk from the stop to the terminal.

Step 3: Think Through Terminal Tasks

Once you’re in the terminal, do you have to check in bags, print a boarding pass from a kiosk, or get a loved one needing a wheelchair to the gate? Maybe you’re all packed, have your boarding pass printed at home, and are ready to go straight to the checkpoint. Add up those times. Anticipate a line at the ticket counter even if you have your bag tags already printed. Do you know where you’re going to find your ticket counter? Do you have several in your party that you have to corral to make sure they all get to the same spot on time?

Step 4: Plan for Peak

Peak travel periods at the airport are holiday periods, all summer long, and particularly Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Factor in these peak periods when anticipating your wait at the security checkpoints. And think through all the variables:

  • Do you have TSA Pre✓® or another Trusted Traveler or Premium airline program status? Those programs will speed your journey.
  • Do you have carry-on bags that will require more time to get through the scanners? Maybe child car seats or loved ones that need extra time to take off their shoes and belts? Or computers that need to be separated from your bags? Factor in extra time.
  • Remember to check your TSA rules before you go. And don’t forget to empty your liquids before entering the checkpoints.

Step 5: Consider Checkpoints

During our peak periods we suggest you plan for at least 45 minutes to get through the checkpoints, potentially up to an hour. We’d rather you get through faster than expected than get to the last 20 minutes of your plan and encounter a longer line than anticipated. Plan for the unexpected — multiple buses of tour passengers or school groups, a baseball team in line in front of you, or a delay at the checkpoint for reasons like changing out K9 teams. Don’t forget to account for your post-security walk to the gate or train ride to another terminal.

Step 6: Add It Up

Here’s one scenario of how it all adds up, but consider how your travel needs may be different.

For a domestic flight departure of 11 a.m., plan to be post-security by 10:30 a.m. at the very latest — use boarding time as your target arrival, rather than the departure time. Then, work backwards to calculate your airport arrival time:

• 25 minutes to park in a shuttle lot and get to the terminal

• 20 minutes at the ticket counter for boarding pass and bag check

• 45 minutes for security

• 15 minutes to take the train or walk to your gate

In this scenario, that means arrive at the airport between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., particularly during the peak travel periods.

Use Sea-Tac’s digital resources to stay up to date.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Marketplace

This spring, Grand Ridge Plaza EATS! Giveaways, virtual events and enter to win an exclusive cooking lesson from your favourite local chef!
Let’s Eat! Visit these Issaquah restaurants to put a spring in your step

Contests, giveaways and cooking lessons bring foodie fun to Grand Ridge Plaza

teaser
Lean Body Confidential Reviews – Military Fat Loss Trigger?

Lean Body Confidential Reviews - Military Fat Loss Trigger? The Military Fat… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Ridge Storage
Need storage? Here’s how to choose the right facility for you!

State-of-the-art storage facility in Snoqualmie Ridge

Shellscapes
You know stone, concrete and gravel for hardscaping… it’s time to discover oyster shells!

Sustainable and stunning landscaping solutions makes it way to Puget Sound

Meticore main image
Meticore Weight Loss Reviews – Scam Pills or Honest Product?

Meticore is a weight loss supplement that adheres to the laws of… Continue reading

Best CBD for dogs
Best CBD Oil for Dogs – Buyer’s Guide (Updated 2020)

CBD oil is popular for its ability to reduce anxiety, ease pain,… Continue reading

Comcast Corporation has launched the Comcast RISE program to help strengthen and empower Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses hard hit by COVID-19.
BIPOC-owned small businesses in Auburn may now apply for support from Comcast RISE

Get marketing consultations, media placements, commercial creative production or technology services

Carina believes everyone deserves compassionate care and they’re helping bring it closer to home for you and your loved ones!
Find a homecare match, right here in King County

Carina homecare offers a safe and affordable alternative to long-term care

Revel Issaquah.
Order up! New independent living community serves made-to-order, full-flavor meals

Live cooking shows, chef competitions, a roadmap to the tastes of Southern BBQ… and so much more!

More than 30 different community hubs in Washington state will be equipped with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” over the next few months to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their homework.
Coming soon: Safe spaces with free internet to help students participate in distance learning

Comcast launches 30 wifi-connected ‘Lift Zones’ in Washington, including 10+ King County locations

Best CBD gummies
Best CBD Gummies for Pain & Anxiety (2020)

Nearly 40 million Americans are diagnosed with anxiety every year, and 50… Continue reading

Revel has communities across the Western United States. Its newest community, Revel Issaquah, is now leasing at 2450 Newport Way NW. (Photo: Aaron Locke)
A new place to pursue your passions, or try something different

This community has all the amenities you need to live an independent life