Busiest travel weekend ahead at Sea-Tac Airport since pre-pandemic

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is heading into its busiest weekend since pre-pandemic. The number of passengers is down by 30 percent for this time this year, but is expected to quickly increase this summer now that Washington has reopened.

"I’m glad they made up their minds to just get it open. We did our vaccinations. I’m sure people were ready for it and it’s just good to see people," said Barbara, who is traveling to Arizona with her daughter and granddaughter.

"Everybody wants to go travel—I totally get it. So, this time I tried to plan ahead as get here a little earlier," said Diana Morse who is traveling to California to visit family.

The state lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, including maintaining six feet. However, masks are still federally required by TSA while indoors and on an airplane.

RELATED: Sea-Tac prepares for more travelers after CDC opens up guidelines for fully vaccinated passengers

"Just be responsible, trying to make sure that I’m not crowding anyone and following everything because even vaccinated or not, I still think it’s smart to try to follow a lot of the same protocols moving forward," said Morse.

Though the number of passengers for this time of year before COVID is down, traffic surrounding the airport has never been heavier.

"A lot of folks are still in the pandemic mode where they’re not taking transit, they’re not taking rideshare. So, a lot of single-occupancy vehicles are out there. You’ll see a lot more traffic congestion," said Perry Cooper, an airport spokesperson.

Even traffic at the cellphone lot is backed up, and is expected to get worse as airport travel increases this summer. There is construction on the old northbound expressway to expand the lot for easier and safer access.

RELATED: Sea-Tac introduces touch-free security measures to slow spread of coronavirus

"We have a number of cars that are waiting to get out. And we have a number of cars waiting to get in. And at this signal here they have to wait for each other in order to get in and out of the lot. With this new access improvement they won’t have to wait for each other, that conflict is removed," said Peter Lindsay, landside development manager for the Port of Seattle.

Lindsay explained the goal is to finish the expansion before Thanksgiving and install new signals sometime after New Year’s Day 2022. 

Travelers should plan for extra traffic and time this holiday weekend. TSA said security checkpoints will be the busiest between 5-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. starting Friday.

"Hopefully we’ll see some fireworks somewhere, but just spending quality time together—that’s really the key and being able to travel and so that is awesome," said Morse.

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