Flying to the Emerald City: Primary airports in Seattle

Airports in Seattle are iconic global hubs catering to leisure and corporate travelers coming in and out of the West Coast city, offering speedy holiday gateways and plenty of scope for commuting business types. If you are planning a visit to Seattle, this article is a one-stop shop offering you complete information about airports in Seattle. A handful of Seattle airports offer flights to holidaymakers and business passengers in this seaport city. The primary airports in this fabulous destination include Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field), and Renton Municipal Airport. Let’s take a closer look at the three major airports in Seattle.

Seattle, the largest metropolitan city in the state of Washington, is the home base of several multi-billion companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, etc. On the other hand, it is America’s prime adventure playground known for lush landscapes both inside the city limits and out, dark evergreen forests, and iconic landmarks, giving it the nickname ‘Emerald City.’

1. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

IATA: SEA                   ICAO: KSEA                FAA LID: SEA

Hub for: Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines

Location: 14 miles south of Downtown Seattle, Washington, US

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (aka Sea-Tac Airport) is the city’s primary commercial airport operating as a significant aviation gateway to the State of Washington. It is a world-class air facility serving the Seattle metropolitan area, located about 14 miles south of Downtown Seattle and 18 miles north-northeast of Downtown Tacoma. It is the busiest airport in North America’s Pacific Northwest region, with over 30 million passenger traffic every year.

airports in Seattle
Airliner reflecting in the windows; Photo from

Sea-Tac Airport is spread over 2,500 acres (3.9 sq miles, ten sq. km) and has a relatively small footprint compared to other US airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson, Los Angeles, Dallas/ Fort Worth, John F. Kennedy Airport, etc. However, it is one of the fastest-growing hub airports in the US reflecting the region’s growth with over 40% increase in traffic over the last few years. The airport was constructed in 1949 to cater to 0.5 million passengers, and 70 years later, it broke the 50 million passenger mark when it moved 51,829,239 passengers in 2019.

Also Read: An insight into the busiest airport in the world: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport

The main airport in Seattle serves as a hub for two significant US carriers, i.e., Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It offers nonstop flights to cities throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Traveling to Seattle Tacoma Airport lands you right in the city of SeaTac and offers you plenty of outdoor recreational and business opportunities.

  • Nonstop destinations served by Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

Planning a trip to Seattle is much easier with nonstop flights operated by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport airlines. With 31 operational carriers at present, the airport offers nonstop services to 91 domestic and 28 international destinations.

airports in Seattle
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA – JAN 27th, 2017: Delta Airlines Boeing 767 airplanes prepare for take of at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport SeaTac. PHOTO FROM

While Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are the top carriers in SEA Airport, accounting for about 56% and 19% of the SEA’s market shares, other airlines such as Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, etc. operates flights to/from SEA Airport to build a growing base of travelers in the US and beyond.

The top 10 domestic destinations served by Seattle-Tacoma Airport include Anchorage, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Denver, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Portland, San Diego, and Dallas/Fort Worth. Similarly, the busiest international destinations include Vancouver (Air Canada Express), Seoul-Incheon (Korean Air), London Heathrow (British Airways), Frankfurt (Condor, Lufthansa), Dubai (Emirates), etc. The combination of Seattle‘s robust economy and business and tourism appeal makes SEA Airport a thriving passenger hub in the US.

Besides passenger airlines, the airport is a burgeoning cargo facility for carriers like Amazon Air, Ameriflight, Alaska Air Cargo, Cargolux, China Airlines Cargo, EVA Air Cargo, FedEx Express, etc.

  • Terminals at SEA Airport

The main terminal comprises four concourses, A, B, C, and D, and two satellite terminal buildings, named North and South Satellites. There are 103 gates in SEA Airport to handle millions of incoming and outgoing passengers. Concourse A has 16 gates (A1-A14, A20, and A21) and hosts operations of airlines like Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines.

Seattle, WA/USA-9/6/19: The Seattle Tacoma SEATAC airport atrium with people waiting to get on a plane to travel.PHOTOS FROM

Concourse B has 17 gates (B1, B3-5, B5A, B6, B7, B7A, B8-B12, B14, B15, B20, and B21) and handles flight activities of Aer Lingus, Frontier Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Likewise, Concourse C has 27 gates operating exclusively for SeaTac-headquartered Alaska Airlines, although the local carrier also has its presence in other concourses. Similarly, Concourse D has 17 gates (D1 to D11 and D20-D26), most of which are leased exclusively to American Airlines.

North Satellite has 20 gates featuring gates N, Gate C, and Gate D, and 16 of them operate exclusively for Alaska Airlines, catering close to half of the local airline’s traffic. South Satellite contains 14 gates between Concourse A and B and handles mostly international flights of carriers like AeroMexico, Air France, ANA, British Airways, Condor, Qatar Airways, etc.

While the SEA Underground train system offers the inter-satellite connection, passengers must use jetbridges, boarding ramps, or shuttle buses to board and exit the aircraft.

  • Passenger services and amenities

Passenger amenities include self-service kiosks, lounge facility, free wifi, kids’ areas, family restroom, charging stations and power outlets, CLEAR service, currency exchange facility, courtesy phones and SIM cards, Curbside Check-in, etc.

SEA Airport has a diverse mix of restaurants to satisfy every taste and enchant your palate throughout the airport. The notable eateries in Seattle Airport include Africa Lounge (near gate A4), Ballard Brew Ball (near gate D7), Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen & Bar (near gate N19), Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (near Gate C3), Camden Food Co. (near Gate D5), etc.

Travelers in Seattle Tacoma Airport can explore an eclectic mix of 35+ retail options, from gift shops and designer brands to local goods and duty-free items. Depending on their needs, they can transverse various shops like CHALO Seattle, Coach, Dufry Duty-Free, Elliott Bay Book Company, ExOfficio, Filson, Fireworks, etc.

2. King County International Airport

IATA: BFI           ICAO: KBFI                 FAA LID: BFI

Location: Five miles south of downtown Seattle

The best thing Seattle gave the aviation world is Boeing, the American multinational corporation that specializes in the design, manufacturing, and sales of airplanes, rotorcraft, etc. In honor of William Boeing, who founded Boeing in Seattle, Washington, a public airport owned and operated by King County named Boeing Field. Boeing Field (aka King Country International Airport) is one of the primary non-hub airports in Seattle used for general aviation, cargo flights, and testing/delivery of Boeing Airliners. Constructed five miles south of downtown Seattle in 1928, the airport was Seattle’s main passenger airport until SEA Airport opened its doors in 1944.

King County International Airport averages 180,000 takeoffs and landings each year; the major aircraft operations belong to general aviation, and others to air taxi, airline, military, and like.

  • Airlines serving King County Airport

Living up to its name, Boeing Field is used to test and deliver Boeing jetliners. Besides, it is still a regional cargo hub serving freighter carriers such as AirPac Airlines, Ameriflight, SkyLink Express, and UPS Airlines. The airport is also home to a small commercial passenger airline Kenmore Air which operates scheduled passenger flights to Eastsound, Friday Harbor.

  • Infrastructures at Boeing Field

The airport is over 634 acres and encompasses two asphalt runways, Boeing facilities, and the Museum of Flight. Boeing Field hosts various Boeing Company operations such as flight test facilities, paint hangar, final aircraft delivery preparations, etc. Thanks to its proximity to downtown Seattle, the airport hosts Air Force One during US President’s visit to the Seattle Area.

3. Renton Municipal Airport

IATA: RNT                  ICAO: KRNT               FAA LID: RNT

While Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and King County International Airport are the main airports in Seattle, there is also a public-use airport located 12 miles southeast of downtown Seattle that serves Renton and other nearby communities. Renton Municipal Airport is a general aviation facility specializing in air charter, air taxi, and recreational flying for corporate, business, and recreational flyers.

airports in Seattle

 The airport isn’t a commercial facility but offers regional aviation services to people. It has a one-mile asphalt runway and an adjoining sea-based airstrip on Lake Washington. If you wish to get an authentic peek into Washington’s air-centric lifestyle, take flightseeing tours of Seattle offered by several operators. There are charter facilities for travelers taking off to the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and lower British Columbia.

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Under federal regulations, there are no flight prohibitions in and out of the airport. Still, there are Voluntary Noise Abatement procedures for pilots to follow to reduce the repetition of flights over Renton neighborhoods. Since the airport is located on the south shore of Lake Washington, boaters must stay at least 100 feet off of the end of the runway and give way to the seaplanes landing or taking off at the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Memorial seaplane base.

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