• New Seattle-Tacoma International SkyBridge Taken From the Air

    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    United States

    Lance Lyttle

    Passenger Count :
    20,061,507 (2020)

    Runways :
    16L/34R – 3,627m (11,901ft) |16C/34C – 2,873m (9,426ft) |16R/34L – 2,591m (8,500ft)

In what seems to have become an increasingly frequent phenomenon at airports around the world in recent months, the queue for security at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) snaked into the car park yesterday. There were several contributing factors, which resulted in reported waits of more than two hours.

Lengthy waits

As demand for air travel continues to bounce back with the commercial aviation industry charting a party of post-pandemic recovery, passenger numbers are booming compared to those seen in the last couple of years. With airports and airlines around the world frequently reporting that numbers are close to pre-COVID levels, this has been causing certain difficulties due to understaffing.

Some airports that laid off employees during the pandemic’s darkest months are now finding that they don’t have the staffing levels to cope with today’s rising passenger figures. This has led to extensive queues for parts of the airport such as bag drop and security, worsened by passengers arriving too early out of precaution. However, sometimes, even well-staffed airports face a perfect storm.

Indeed, at the Pacific Northwest hub of Seattle-Tacoma International (Sea-Tac), passengers faced reported waits of more than two hours to clear security, despite this part of the airport operating at almost full capacity. So, how did the situation arise?

Seattle Airport Getty

Seattle is a major air hub, with the US’s largest carriers having a strong presence there. Photo: Getty Images

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Various factors involved

According to the Seattle Times, the queues were at their worst between 08:15 and 12:00 yesterday. During this period, 90-minute waits were advertised, although comments on social media suggested that two hours and more was a more representative time. Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for the airport, stated, “what we saw in our tracking was the longest waits to be an hour and 30 minutes.”

As seen in the tweet above, the extensive wait times resulted in the queue for security snaking out of the airport’s terminal building and into the adjacent car park. This was despite the fact that the airport’s security channels were almost all open, with just two of 27 closed. To ease the queueing, the airport opened two lanes for pre-screened passengers up to regular travelers.

With understaffing not being an issue, in this case, the disruption was put down to a variety of factors. For example, the morning rush is typically Sea-Tac’s busiest time for departures, and yesterday was one of its busiest post-pandemic days. Cooper stated that busloads of cruise passengers simultaneously arriving at the airport on Sunday morning also may have played a role.

Seattle Airport Getty

The airport served around 60,000 departing passengers yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

The airline industry is always full of new developments! What aviation news will you check out next?

Bouncing back

While the scenes that played out yesterday morning aren’t what passengers or airports want to see, they do at least hint at signs of a sustained recovery.

Indeed, the Seattle Times notes that, according to current projections, Sea-Tac will fall just 10% short this year of the 51.8 million passengers that it served in 2019. Going forward, it will likely be hoping to find ways of processing such passenger numbers more quickly as busier days become increasingly common.

What did you make of the situation in Seattle yesterday? Did the queues impact you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Source: Seattle Times

Source: simpleflying.com

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