Holiday travel perk: Sea-Tac Airport allows visitors inside secure area



For the first time in 17 years, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is allowing visitors into the secure passenger areas.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, people could walk their friends and loved ones to the gates at any airport in the country. You could go to the airport and just hang out or have dinner.

Beginning Friday, up to 50 people a day can use the Port of Seattle’s new SEA Visitor Pass pilot program that allows the public entry into the secure part of Sea-Tac.

“It’s been 17 years since anyone without a ticket has been able to enjoy areas of the airport beyond security. And yet some of the airport’s best features are there. Great restaurants, local musicians performing in the concourses, and some of the best views of the planes coming and going against the backdrop of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. “Airport staff continues to work to enhance the customer experience, not only for airport fans, but also for families to connect. For now this is a pilot program, but we’re excited to see if this is something the public is interested in.”

The pilot program will last through Dec. 14 and the Port will study the feasibility of continuing the program permanently.

Officials say the “SEA Visitor Pass” allows visitors who meet Transportation Security Administration requirements to reach the domestic-travel gates only.

Sea-Tac is the first in the nation to implement such a program.

Here are the details:

  • You must apply online before 1:30 p.m. the day before you want to visit the airport.
  • Visitors must be approved by TSA and will be notified of their approval status by midnight the day before they enter.
  • Enrollment is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Entrance to the post-security side of the terminal is allowed from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The program is limited to 50 visitors per day.
  • Approved visitors will go through the standard security checkpoints, so all security requirements for any traveler will be in place for visitors as well. Check with TSA for security requirements and plan ahead for peak traveler periods.
  • Meeting travelers at their gate applies only to domestic arrivals.

For more information, visit the SEA Visitor Pass Program page or check out the Frequently Asked Questions.