Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: The Complete Guide

SeaTac International Airport
Kristin Kendle

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport—more commonly called SeaTac Airport or even just SeaTac—is your air travel destination if you live in most of Western Washington. It’s the largest airport in Washington State, and one of the 20 busiest airports in the U.S. But SeaTac remains relatively easy to get around, and has plenty of shops and restaurants to make sure you’re not left in an amenity-free lurch before a flight. Use this guide to find out everything you need to know before flying out of or into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Reasons to Travel Through SeaTac Airport

  • The airport is easy to get to from I-5 via Highway 518, from 99, and from 509. The approaches to the arrivals and departures, short- and long-term parking areas are well-labeled, so driving in by car is also easy, as long as the pick-up area isn’t too crowded!
  • The Central Terminal is an attractive place to sit and relax before a flight or grab a bite to eat. There are plenty of things to do at the airport, if you get there a bit too early or have to wait around for a ride.
  • There’s a nice lineup of restaurants, ranging from affordable fast-food all the way up to an Anthony’s sit-down restaurant.
  • Short-term parking at the airport is almost always available and reasonable (usually under $5) if you’re just there to pick someone up and don't want to use the cell phone lot.
  • Art installations are located throughout the airport. The coolest of these are in the Central Terminal, including an impressive mobile hanging from the ceiling. Other artwork, like the fish swimming down the floor of Concourse B is a bit dated, but beloved to many frequent fliers.
  • Wi-Fi throughout the airport is free!
  • There is even a yellow lottery box in the Central Terminal so you can test your luck before or after a flight. If you’re lucky, maybe this will help lessen the blow that is airfare!

    How to Get to SeaTac Airport

    Large international airports can be busy, noisy, and intimidating. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, also known as SeaTac Airport, falls into that category. Here's some information to help you find your way in and around SeaTac, whether you're picking someone up or flying yourself.

    Location: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located about 13 miles south of downtown Seattle (17801 International Blvd. Seattle, WA 98158). It can be accessed by taking the SeaTac Airport exit from State Route 518.

    If you choose not to drive to Seattle's airport, there are several public and private transportation options.

    • By Central Link Light Rail: Link Light Rail service is available between the SeaTac/Airport station to destinations north as far as Westlake Center in downtown Seattle.
    • By Bus: King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit buses both have routes with stops at SeaTac airport.
    • By Shuttle: There are several shuttle bus and van services that provide airport transportation for the Seattle metro area and beyond.
      • Gray Line Downtown Airporter 206-626-6088
      • Shuttle Express 425-981-7000
    • By Courtesy Vehicle: Some hotels offers courtesy transportation to and from the airport. Consult your individual hotel for details.

      Construction at SeaTac Airport: SeaTac Airport is in a constant state of construction, whether adding new terminal facilities, runways, or roads. Things change from day to day, so it's always a good idea to check the official airport web site for the latest construction status.

      Parking and Terminal Information for SeaTac Airport

      You can park in both short- and long-term parking right at SeaTac. Except on the very busiest travel days of the year, there is usually ample parking at SeaTac's parking garage. Ample, but expensive. Paying for parking is conducted through automated machines that take cash, debit, or credit cards. For short-term parking, there is no better way to go. However, for multi-day parking, you can save money by parking at a remote airport parking lot.

      When you walk in from the parking area or drop-off area, you will be on either the main floor (where all the airline check-in desks are) or the baggage claim level of the Main Terminal. The Main Terminal leads directly back to the Central Terminal, where you’ll find restaurants and stores after passing through security. Concourses A, B, C, and D are all accessible from the Central Terminal. The airport also has two satellite buildings—South and North Satellite.These satellite terminals are connected to the central terminal by continuously-running underground loop trains.

      If you know that your flight will be departing from one of SeaTac's satellite terminals, it's a good idea to add 10-15 minutes to your schedule.

      Shops, Food, and Restaurants at SeaTac Airport

      SeaTac travelers are fortunate. All four concourses and both satellites have a number of stores and restaurants, so if you want to wait near your gate, there’s no need to remain in the Central Terminal. (In fact, most of the airport eateries are located after security and thus are only available to ticketed passengers.) Concourses B and D are the least updated of the four and have fewer amenities, but still have enough for the basic travel needs, including the obligatory Starbucks and Hudson News shops.

      Some of the best include Fireworks and Made in Washington in the Central Terminal.

      You won't lack for opportunities to buy a great meal or a delicious snack at SeaTac Airport. Many of the sit-down restaurants and fast food counters are local businesses featuring local foods, and prices are consistent with what you'll find outside of the airport.

      Sit-down Dining at SeaTac Airport
      Try Anthony's Restaurant in the post-security area of the central terminal for full-service dining; they serve fresh seafood and yummy desserts.

      Coffee, Tea, and Beverages at SeaTac Airport
      You won't be surprised to learn that there are a variety of espresso stands throughout SeaTac Airport, from Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee to Dilletante and Diva.

      Pre-Security Food Options at SeaTac Airport
      If you want to enjoy a glass of wine, an espresso drink, or a light meal with a non-flying companion, you will find a few options. These also make great places to meet with Seattle friends during a long layover.

      • Vintage Washington Wine Bar - this centrally-located wine bar also serves snacks and light meals
      • Dish D'Lish - market-fresh salads, sandwiches, and treats

      Things to Do at SeaTac Airport

      If you find yourself with time on your hands at SeaTac Airport, there is plenty to keep yourself entertained.

      Art at SeaTac Airport: You'll find original art of all kinds throughout SeaTac Airport. It's everywhere - hanging from the ceiling, on the windows, even in the bathroom.

      Shopping: For magazines and snacks, you'll find Hudson News shops throughout the airport, both pre- and post-security. Several specialty shops are located in the central terminal, including Ex OfficioThe Body ShopFireworks and Made in Washington.

      Spa Treatments: Get a neck or foot massage at The Massage Bar, which has locations in Concourse C and the North Satellite. Manicures and pedicures are available at butter LONDON.

      Baggage Claim

      Baggage Claim is located on the lower level of the Main Terminal. If you’ve lived in the Seattle area for a while, you know that SeaTac’s baggage claim has come a long way! There are 16 baggage carousels, meaning that baggage does not suffer great delays. Getting your luggage can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes on average.

      Leaving SeaTac Airport

      SeaTac Airport is a transportation hub. You can get here by car, by taxi, by shuttle, or via public transportation.

      • Shuttles: Shuttles and ground transportation pick-up is available just outside of Baggage Claim. Phones with lists of shuttle company and courtesy vehicle numbers listed are free to use, and are located all in the ground transportation area.
      • Rental Cars: All rental car facilities are now located offsite. Shuttles are available out of the same ground transportation hub outside of Baggage Claim.
      • Taxis and Limos: Cabs, limos and other courtesy vehicles are on the third floor of the parking garage.
      • King County Buses: King County buses are located on International Boulevard, which is the street in front of the airport. To get out to the street, follow signs to the Link Light Rail Station and then exit to International Boulevard.
      • Sound Transit Buses: Sound Transit express buses are available right outside of Baggage Claim on the arrivals drive.