If you’re flying this Presidents Day holiday weekend, be prepared for longer lines at security checkpoints at Sea-Tac Airport on Thursday and Friday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) warns.
Projections of departing-passenger numbers, developed with input from the airlines, show that TSA will screen more than 53,000 passengers on Thursday, Feb. 16, 11 percent more than the same time last year.
That number will increase on Friday, Feb. 17, to nearly 56,000 passengers – an increase of 8 percent over last year.
Based on ticketing, the busiest time blocks at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport security checkpoints are projected to be:
- 4 a.m. to noon. There will be high passenger volume throughout the morning at TSA security checkpoints, with the busiest times anticipated to be from 5 to 8 a.m. and again from 10 to 11 a.m.
- 4 to 6 p.m.
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The expected surge in passengers is the result of travelers heading out of town for the three-day weekend. Many local schools are closed before or after the holiday, making it a popular time to travel.
TSA says passengers can assist by coming prepared to the airport. The agency offers these tips for travel out of Sea-Tac:
- Arrive at the airport two hours before your flight — early enough to park your car/return a rental car, print boarding passes and check a bag at the airline ticket counter, go through the security screening and get to your gate. Each step takes extra time when the airport is busy.
- This holiday weekend is one of the highest-volume weekends for oversized and odd-sized checked baggage. If you are traveling with skis, snowboards, golf clubs or any other specialized item, allow extra time for these items to be screened through the checked baggage system.
- Before heading to the security checkpoint, check your boarding pass to see if the words “TSA PreCheck” or “TSA PRE” are printed on it. If so, TSA recommends travelers go to checkpoint 4 (near the Alaska Airlines ticket counter) where TSA operates a dedicated security checkpoint for TSA PreCheck-eligible passengers. TSA PreCheck lanes are also available at security checkpoints 2 and 3.
- Travelers can get to any Sea-Tac gate from any security checkpoint. Go to the security checkpoint with the shortest line and you will still be able to access all gates.
- While prepping for your trip, unpack all bags completely before you pack. (Avoid bringing that pocket knife you took along on your last camping trip, for example.) Passengers who bring prohibited items to the checkpoint slow the screening process for everybody. Click here to see a list of prohibited items.
- Prepare your carry-on liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in a quart-size zip-lock bag to be sure they are packed in compliance with TSA liquids rules and separate that bag from other luggage for security inspection. Liquid containers larger than 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) are not allowed in carry-on luggage.
- Remove all items from your pockets and secure the items into your carry-on bag to prevent them from being left behind in a bin. Your screening will go faster if you remove everything from your pockets before you get to the checkpoint.