Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 101: The best way to get to Sea-Tac
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
If you’re flying out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, there are plenty of ways to avoid traffic getting to the airport and make that flight from the eighth-busiest airport in the U.S.
The airport, known as Sea-Tac, is located about 15 miles south of Seattle and 20 miles north of Tacoma. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) serves about 50 million passengers a year. As of early 2020, 32 airlines operate at SEA, serving 91 nonstop domestic destinations and 29 international destinations, including seasonal operations. Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are the top carriers for both domestic and international passengers.
To get to the airport, you can use light rail, bus, car, ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, taxi, shuttle van, limo and town car. If you bike there, there are spots to lock up as well.
Here’s a rundown:
In 2018, Seattle ranked in the Top 10 for worst-traffic cities in North America, so if you’re headed to or from downtown Seattle during many parts of the day, the Link Light Rail will be your fastest and least-expensive option.
Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail currently runs from the City of SeaTac to downtown Seattle to the University of Washington — with expansion plans in the future. The service operates from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Saturday; from 6 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.
Depending on the time of day, trains arrive and depart about every 6 to 15 minutes.
The SeaTac/Airport Station light rail is connected to the airport parking garage via a covered (but not totally enclosed) walkway (0.3 miles). A free Train-to-Plane shuttle cart for those with mobility issues or excess luggage operates daily from 5 a.m. to midnight.
Transit time on the Link Light Rail from the airport to downtown Seattle is about 35 minutes.
Buy tickets ($3) at the machine in the station or download and use the Transit GO Ticket mobile app to purchase a ticket on your phone. Day passes are available. You won’t need to show your ticket to get on the light rail, but fare checkers often board trains to check tickets.
King County Metro and Sound Transit offers bus service to many other Puget Sound destinations. The King County Metro bus stop is by the Light Rail Station; Sound Transit buses pick up at the south end of the main terminal on the lower level. Details on the routes/cities served, fares and pick-up/drop-off locations are on the SEA airport website.
Ride-hailing and shared shuttle service
Uber, Lyft and Wingz are the three app-based ride-hailing services currently authorized to serve SEA airport.
These services may drop passengers off at the terminal on the upper (departure) or lower (arrival) roads but Lyft, Uber/UberX and Wingz may only pickup in the designated area on the third floor of the parking garage (by rows G through J in the orange and purple sections). Attendants are on duty to help passengers connect with rides.
Transit time between the airport and downtown Seattle can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
Ride-hailing fares between SEA and downtown Seattle range from $35 to over $50, depending on time of day and type of service.
Scheduled Airporters and shared shuttle vans, including Shuttle Express, also serve SEA airport. Fares for the Shuttle Express Downtown Airporter start at around $25 per person, with scheduled stops at a variety of downtown hotels, including Crown Plaza, Fairmont Olympic, Grand Hyatt, Hilton, Renaissance, Sheraton, Warwick and Westin. This is a good option if you have luggage and are going to one of these hotels or a destination nearby.
There are two taxi options at SEA airport: flat rate and metered.
Both flat rate and metered taxis wait for passengers on the third floor of the parking garage, on the north and south curbs.
Flat-rate taxis are bi-color vehicles with four-digit vehicle numbers and offer a flat price based on your destination’s ZIP code.
Single-color taxi cabs have three-digit vehicle numbers and operate like traditional metered cabs with a drop price and per-mile charge.
Seattle Yellow Cab, Orange Cab and others offer a $40 flat rate from the Seattle’s downtown hotel district to SEA airport. (At certain times a $1 gas surcharge may be applied). There is, however, no flat rate from the airport to downtown Seattle, but rates generally start a $40, depending on time of day.
Limos and town cars, pre-booked and booked-on-demand, are a more expensive option, of course, but also a convenient option.
STILA limos and town cars are available on the north and south curbs on the third floor of the parking garage, in an area designated as the Ground Transportation Plaza. STILA offers flat-rate fares to downtown Seattle for $45 and drivers may pick up passengers curbside if requested.
Many other limo services, including Blacklane, serve SEA airport as well, but only STILA has cars officially stationed in the transportation plaza.
If you’re renting a car, board a shuttle outside the bag-claim level at either the north end of the terminal (by Alaska Airlines) or the south end (by the international airlines) for a short ride to the off-site rental car facility. Shuttles operate 24 hours a day.
If family or friends offer to pick you up at the airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has a cellphone lot with 200 parking spaces, free Wi-Fi, free parking for up to 20 minutes and electric charging stations.
There are a variety of options for getting to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), including public transportation, taxis, limos, shared shuttle vans, rental cars and, of course, friends and family willing to make the drive.
You best option may be determined by budget, traffic, time of day and the amount of luggage or number of kids you’ve got in tow.
Not sure what to choose or need more information? Call the Ground Transportation Booth for help: (206) 787-5906.
Featured photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees