Alaska Air Group, Inc., is embarking on a massive project at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that will revolutionize the passenger check-in experience. The project, known as SEA Gateway, is the largest construction endeavor ever undertaken by Alaska and forms part of the airline’s $2.5 billion technology upgrade across its five West Coast hubs, according to a report from the Puget Sound Business Journal. The primary goal is to eliminate traditional check-in kiosks and introduce automated processes in the lobby area.
Alaska Airlines is spearheading the SEA Gateway project in collaboration with HOK/Hensel-Phelps as the design-build team. The Port of Seattle, responsible for operating the airport, will provide partial reimbursement to Alaska, with the estimated budget totaling $546 million, subject to final negotiations on cost-sharing.
With the planned enhancements, passengers will be able to check in, print baggage tags, and drop off their bags using tablets, aiming to expedite their journey through the lobby and security checkpoints in under five minutes. Furthermore, the project will provide new break rooms where all Alaska employees, from customer service and ground crew members to pilots and corporate staff, can share space.
Additionally, the upgrades will involve the addition of 24,500 square feet of office and ticket counter space for employees, utilizing currently unused areas between the skybridges and the ticketing and bag claim levels. This optimized utilization of space allows Alaska to make the most of the airport’s limited footprint, Lance Lyttle, Sea-Tac Airport’s director, told the Business Journal.
Construction walls have been erected, and demolition work is scheduled to commence in the summer. The promenade area is anticipated to be completed by the second quarter of 2024, providing additional ticketing capacity for future project phases. Mike Francis, the airport’s construction lead, indicated in the report that the bulk of the ticketing lobby improvements will commence this year and conclude in 2026.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the main terminal, Sea-Tac is preparing for a $37 million project to relocate and expand Checkpoint 1. Despite the construction challenges, Sea-Tac Airport is committed to mitigating the impact on passengers and is working closely with the Transportation Security Administration to add 20 new officers, thereby improving wait times at security checkpoints. Sea-Tac’s Spot Saver app, introduced nearly two years ago, allows travelers to book a specific check-in time, and its success has led to its adoption at nine airports nationwide as well as in Europe and Asia, with approaching one million users.