Seattle Airport Brings Back Passes For Non-Flyers To Go Airside

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has begun allowing non-flyers to go airside at the facility once again. The airport, known colloquially as Sea-Tac, had paused its ‘SEA Visitor Pass’ program due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, as of August 24th, non-ticketed customers can once again access ‘the secure side of the airport.’

Seattle Airport Getty
The ‘SEA Visitor Pass’ program reopened on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

Back in action

With the summer travel season coming to an end, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has implemented a handful of changes. With the US’s Labor Day weekend fast approaching, one change that the airport has made has been to reintroduce its SEA Visitor Pass.

Seattle-Tacoma had previously used this system to allow non-flyers to go airside. This offered an ideal solution for people wanting to see friends and family off at the gate, or even simply to enjoy the airside amenities and watch aircraft come and go. Understandably, the onset of the global health crisis forced the airport to suspend the scheme.

However, since Tuesday, August 24th, non-flyers have once again been allowed to make use of the pass. The airport explains: “Temporarily paused during the pandemic, SEA Visitor Pass welcomes you back to the airport even when you’re not flying!

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Seattle
The airport is situated northwest of Mount Rainier. Photo: Don Wilson/Port of Seattle

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Restrictions apply

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact air travel, the re-introduction of the SEA Visitor Pass is tied to certain restrictions. Indeed, Sea-Tac states that “space is limited each day” for those wishing it make use of the scheme. Furthermore, visitors must comply with the same restrictions concerning ticketed customers, such as wearing a face mask.

With just 100 passes available per day, non-flyers can book their visit online up to a week beforehand. The booking system shows a countdown with the number of remaining passes for the day in question. For example, at the time of writing, there were still 85 spots up for grabs tomorrow. The issuing of the passes is subject to TSA approval.

Seattle Airport
Seattle-Tacoma International as seen from above. Photo: Timo Breidenstein via Wikimedia Commons

Having chosen a day, prospective visitors must provide personal and contact details. The TSA will then send approval status by email on the day of the visit. You can also book same-day visits, in which case this email should come within 15 minutes. Much like passengers, visitors must use their pass to go airside via a TSA security checkpoint.

The first pass of its kind on the West Coast

The airport has been allowing non-flying customers to go airside with its SEA Visitor Pass since 2018. When Sea-Tac introduced the scheme three years ago, it was the first airport on the US West Coast to offer such a service. Visitors can go airside between 8 am and 10 pm (when most airside restaurants close), with 9 pm being the latest permitted entry time.

What do you make of the re-introduction of the SEA Visitor Pass? Do you plan to make use of this service following its return? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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