Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reports slight increase in passengers amid pandemic

It's not quite the typical summer travel season at Sea-Tac Airport, but the amount of passengers going through security is slowly increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit the region in the early part of the year. 

Typically, the months of June, July and August are the busiest with an average of 70,000 passengers a day. This year, thanks to the pandemic, the airport reports about 16,000 daily passengers on average. 

Still, the numbers are slowly climbing from this year's low of 2,800 passengers a day on average back in April. 

Kate Hudson, aviation communications manager for Sea-Tac, said roughly 70 percent of airport dining and retail stores have reopened. 

Despite fewer passengers, it has not stopped some from taking planned vacataions.

Arizona resident Frank Cordova, his daughter, and grandkids stopped in Seattle for a layover on their way to Alaska.

"Everybody for the most part is taking precautions," he said. "I'd say about 80 or 90 percent of the people have their masks on."

It didn't stop Eli Clarke from travelling from Boise, Idaho to Hawaii for school. 

"I think most airlines have been really good about sanitizing things and about being really receptive to what customers want," he said. 

Speaking of sanitizing, the airport added 250 sanitizing stations throughout terminals. Masks are required throughout the airport, and most airlines require them for flights as well. 

Airport officials are looking at the results of pilot programs that used temperature screening technology. 

According to officials, the technology was voluntarily used during a three-day trial in June for international travellers. About 1,400 travelers participated, but zero elevated temperatures were detected, said Hudson. 

Right now, the airport, in partnership with Alaska Airlines, is conducting a voluntary "proof of concept" to screen domestic departing passengers at checkpoint 5 for elevated temperatures above 100.4 degrees. It started on July 14th.

So far, about 7,700 passengers have been screened through that program, and zero people have been found to have an elevated temperature, said Hudson.  

Officials are predicting the 20,000 passengers per day threshold could happen any day between now and Labor Day.