Airport parking shortage will impact holiday travelers

KING COUNTY, Wash. — A parking crunch will bring new headaches for holiday travelers this year at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Airport officials say the number of available spaces in and around the airport is down by 3,800 stalls, or 12 percent.

“The parking in our garage this season is going to be extremely busy. We pretty much have what we could consider the perfect storm,” said Lance Lyttle, managing director at SEA.

A couple of hundred spaces in the airport garage are closed for construction.

In addition, passengers now compete for spots in the garage with as many as 1,500 workers because there’s a shortage of shuttle bus drivers to take them to an employee lot.

Many spots are full even on the roof of the garage, and some drivers are parking in undesignated places.

Airport officials say another 2,100 spots at private lots near the airport are gone because the lots closed during the pandemic.

Operators of open lots are trying to find more workers, and some passengers report waiting longer for shuttle buses.

Airport officials held a news event on Wednesday, urging people to take light rail to catch their flights.

“Riders boarding at Northgate are breezing past traffic jams on I-5 and reaching Sea-Tac in 49 minutes,” said Kent Keel, board chair at Sound Transit. “You’re not going to have to guess what time you’re going to arrive because of traffic.”

SEA predicts 1.5 million passengers will travel through the airport between Nov. 18 and Nov. 29.

That’s 150 percent more travelers than the same period last year, but still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.