Seattle-Tacoma International Airport—more commonly called SeaTac Airport or even just SeaTac—is the main travel hub for the Pacific Northwest and one of the 20 busiest airports in the U.S. Despite that business, SeaTac is 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.
Large international airports can be busy, noisy, and intimidating and this airport certainly falls into that category, but there are some tricks to navigating the SeaTac experience, whether you're picking someone up or flying yourself.
SeaTac Code, Location, and Contact Information
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is located about 13 miles south of downtown Seattle.
Know Before You Go
Over 30 airlines serve the Seattle airport with flights traveling nonstop to over 100 destinations. 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, which are referred to as the North and South Satellites. These 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.
Short-term parking at the airport is almost always available and reasonable if you’re just there to pick someone up and don't want to use the cell phone lot.
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, but expensive, parking at SeaTac's parking garage. Paying for parking is conducted through automated machines that take cash and 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 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.
Public Transportation and Taxis
You can get to and from SeaTac by car, by taxi, by shuttle, or via public transportation.
- Taxis and Limos: Cabs and limos are on the third floor of the parking garage.
- Shuttle or Courtesy Vehicles: There are several shuttle bus and van services that provide airport transportation for the Seattle metro area and beyond. 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.
- Buses: King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit buses both have routes with stops at SeaTac airport. 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 express buses are available right outside of Baggage Claim on the arrivals drive.
- 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.
Where to Eat and Drink
There’s a nice lineup of restaurants, ranging from affordable fast-food all the way up to gastronomic experiences at restaurants like Floret and Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen and Bar.
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.
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.
Where to Shop
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 Officio, The Body Shop, Fireworks, and Made in Washington.
How to Spend Your Layover
If you find yourself with time on your hands at SeaTac Airport, there is plenty to keep you entertained, from the original art scattered throughout the terminal to the spa treatments available at the Massage Bar.
SeaTac isn't too far from the center of town, but you should have at least five hours to work with if you're thinking about leaving the airport for some sightseeing. With enough time you could squeeze in a visit to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, or pay tribute to the original Starbucks.
For an overnight layover, peruse some of the nearby airport hotels like the Hilton Seattle, Red Roof Inn, or Red Lion Hotel, all of which offer a free airport shuttle service.
There are a few lounges in which you'll need previous airline loyalty or a premium ticket to enter, but if you don't have either, you'll find a lot of lounges at SeaTac where you can opt to pay the admission fee, such as the Alaska Lounge, Centurion Lounge, The Club at SEA, and the United Lounge.
Retired and active military personnel can also take advantage of SeaTac's USO Lounge, which is free of charge for veterans. Look for it on the second floor of the main terminal.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Wi-Fi throughout the airport is free. To charge your devices, you'll find power outlets at your seats in A, B, D, and S gates. If all the seats are taken, you should also see plenty of charging kiosks and wall outlets.
SeaTac Tips and Tidbits
- SeaTac has the standard amenities for a large international airport like ATMs, currency exchange booths, and luggage storage facilities throughout the concourses.
- 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.
- SeaTac has live music in various spots throughout the airport seven days a week, and keeps a schedule of performers readily available.
- For families traveling with small children, childcare facilities like a mother's room for nursing women and children's play area can be found in the Central Terminal near the Seattle Taproom. There are also independent nursing suites scattered throughout the gates.