Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) reveals its modern welcome to the world today, demonstrating how the new International Arrivals Facility (IAF) dramatically improves the travel experience and advances the Puget Sound as a leading tourism and business gateway.
Interested travelers are invited to tune into the unveiling of the International Arrivals Facility through a reveal video program that will be streamed for audiences throughout the world.
The reveal comes as major construction is complete but prior to full passenger operations this spring. Final readiness testing by the airport and its partners is taking place over the next few weeks.
The spring opening comes just in time to support the continuing recovery of international travel. Demand for Seattle remained high even during the particularly challenging last two years. Since 2020, SEA has welcomed several brand-new international services, including Qatar Airways to Doha, WestJet to Calgary, American Airlines to London, and Alaska Airlines to Belize. Other new destinations coming in 2022 are Air Canada to Montreal in May, Aer Lingus to Dublin in May, Delta Air Lines to London in May, Alaska to Edmonton in April, and Finnair to Helsinki in June.
The IAF, made up of the pedestrian walkway, secure corridor, and Grand Hall, is the most complex capital project in the Port’s history. While the modern design of the three new facilities takes center stage, the IAF also provides a memorable front door to international travel and trade for the Pacific Northwest that highlights regional art, dramatic views, sustainability, and the world’s longest aerial walkway over an active taxi lane! It took nearly three million labor hours to construct this facility, including nearly one million minority labor hours (35%), over 500,000 apprentice hours (19%), and more than 139,000 (5%) labor hours by women.
Replacing the 50-year-old current Customs facility, the IAF increases the airport’s number of international capable gates from 12 to 20 and more than doubles passenger capacity to 2,600 passengers per hour (up from 1,200 today).
“We needed to improve the customer experience to make travel less stressful and more predictable,” says Lance Lyttle, Managing Director of SEA Airport. “This is your first impression of our region and airport. Everything from the views out the window to the simplicity of getting on your way should put you at ease.”
“Everything about this new facility — from its design to its artwork to its vistas, and even the way passengers move through the building — demonstrates our region’s most enduring values, and reinforces our commitment to being the best connected, most convenient, sustainable, and welcoming airport in the world,” said Ryan Calkins, Port of Seattle Commission President.
“Delta customers will surely enjoy the benefits that this gorgeous, state-of-the-art International Arrivals Facility will bring to their travel journeys,” said Eric Phillips, S.V.P. — Airport Customer Service and Cargo at Delta Air Lines. “As Seattle’s largest global airline and the largest future user of the IAF, Delta is committed to enhancing the customer experience in ways that will serve Seattle well into the future, while also helping to meet the growing regional demand for international service out of this gateway for business and tourism.”
“From our home airport here in Seattle, Alaska Airlines connects the world with our fellow members in the one world global alliance and our additional airline partners,” said Nat Piper, Senior Vice President of Fleet, Finance, and Alliances at Alaska Airlines. “The International Arrivals Facility will provide a stunning, modern welcome to all our guests arriving from destinations around the globe. Starting in June, oneworld will offer the most nonstops to the most international destinations — an average of 22 daily international flights, including our service to Canada and Mexico.”
“Over the last 10 years, Emirates has had a long and fruitful partnership with SEA, and we take great pride in the important role we play in connecting Seattle customers — business and leisure both — to and through our hub in Dubai. The investment and opening of the new International Arrivals Facility at Seattle airport allows for our customers to enjoy a luxurious and seamless transition from their signature Emirates inflight experience and further reinforces our commitment to the SEA Airport and the broader Seattle economy and tourism market,” said Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates Airline Divisional Vice President — USA & Canada.
“Clark Construction is honored to have played a role in delivering an iconic new gateway for the Seattle region. This facility is the culmination of years of hard work by hundreds of local companies, including more than 250 small and diverse businesses. It is a testament to the skill and tenacity of the thousands of men and women who helped us make it a reality,” said John O’Keefe, President of Infrastructure for Clark Construction Group, the firm responsible for the IAF’s design and construction.
“We’ve designed a series of dramatic, light-filled spaces that allow travelers to move more efficiently through the international arrivals process, enhancing the passenger’s experience,” said Michael Duncan, Design Partner at SOM. “Airports play an important role in welcoming travelers to their destination. This building and the bridge have a lightness and open quality that celebrate the rich landscape of the Pacific Northwest.
“The investments at SEA Airport have created thousands of good, family-wage jobs from our local communities, and they will help build the next generation of construction workers, opening new doors through apprenticeships for women, people of color, veterans, and others who are disadvantaged. This economic opportunity would not have been possible without a strong partnership through our Project Labor Agreement with the Port,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary, Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council.
Welcome Here, Welcome Home
SEA is newly certified as only the second large hub U.S. airport to earn the travel industry’s prestigious Skytrax 4-Star Airport Rating. This achievement follows a suite of improvements that make the airport experience better, including beautifully modernized spaces such as the International Arrivals Facility.
More predictable and less stressful arrival and customs processing:
- Nearly doubles the international gates from 12 to 20
- Increases passenger capacity by more than double to 2,600 passengers per hour
- Additional amenities such as nursing rooms, pet relief areas, and restrooms throughout the customs journey
- Incorporates enhanced technologies for faster passport check clearance
- Increases size and number of bag claim carousels from four to seven
- Reduces minimum passenger connection time from 90 to 75 minutes
The IAF is as smart and efficient as it is sustainable and designed with Pacific Northwest values.
To fulfill the Port’s mission of environmental stewardship and sustainability, this facility has important green building elements:
- Low-flow restroom fixtures to reduce indoor water use
- Energy-saving features like LED lighting, energy-efficient escalator motors and variable speed motors on baggage handling devices
- Two-thirds of the building has daylighting to connect travelers to outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms, and reduce energy consumption
- Conscientious construction with 7,163 tons of contaminated soil and 62,405 gallons of impacted stormwater removed from the project site, many materials sourced within 100 miles, low-emitting adhesives, materials, and coatings, and most of the construction waste was diverted from landfills
The architecture of the IAF mirrors the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and even the artwork evokes the natural beauty of this region through colors, shapes, and movement. The color choices, architectural elements, and artwork will welcome travelers to the natural beauty of our region:
- Sunrise, mountain views, and natural light fill the floor to ceiling windows
- Materials feature the blues of the sea and sky, and the greens and organic textures of the mountains and forests
- More than 100,000 square feet of terrazzo floor sourced from local stone forms a rock pattern that evokes the colors and textures of a rocky Pacific Ocean beach
- Wood accents bring warmth and nature into the space
- A courtyard with plants and trees will give a flash of our namesake Emerald green as you exit to the rest of the airport
- Chalchiutlicue, a five-piece sculpture by artist Marela Zacarías, over the bag claim carousels were inspired by the colors of the waterways and sunsets in the San Juan Islands
- Magnetic Anomaly, three kinetic artworks created by Ned Kahn, consists of spinning suspended metallic mobiles that are inspired by the wind and ever-changing Pacific Northwest weather
- Indigenous art is installed throughout the IAF with works by six Native American artists, including renowned glass artist Preston Singletary and the interdisciplinary artist Marie Watt
Beyond its regional beauty and sustainability, the IAF meets the needs of our global and diverse community. The Port of Seattle is a leading contributor to the region’s economic recovery, and that depends on a thriving international airport that is welcoming and inclusive to all.