Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flying with kids: Sea-Tac Airport


Sea-Tac Airport, also known as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is located in SeaTac, just outside Seattle in Washington state. I've travelled with my kids through this airport quite a few times, since it's close enough to Vancouver to offer an alternative departure airport. We've used it both when we went to Maui, and when we've travelled to Sweden.

In recent years, flights to Sweden out of Sea-Tac have often been so much cheaper than flights out of Vancouver, that it's really been the only logical option. Another reason I like Sea-Tac, besides the cheaper flights, is that it has one of the best play-areas I've seen at any airport.

Getting to and from Sea-Tac
When my family is flying out of Sea-Tac, we usually drive down from Vancouver. The drive itself takes about three hours, but can be longer depending on wait times at the border crossing.

Another option we've used in the past, though I still haven't done this when traveling with the kids, is the Quick Shuttle bus. This bus travels between Vancouver and Sea-Tac. On the Canadian side, it goes from Vancouver Airport and makes a few other stops before crossing the border into the US. The price is good, but the thought of first having to contain my kids on a bus for several hours, and then put them on a plane for a long flight, has never seemed that great to me. Maybe I will use that option soon though, since the kids are getting older.

For travel between the airport and downtown Seattle, you can also use the Central Link Light Rail. There are also other public transit options, as well as various shuttle services.

Facilities for kids
Sea-Tac has one of the best play areas for kids of any airport I've visited. It is located between Concourse A and the Central terminal, not too far from the food court. It is a very well thought out space for families and has cushioned floor tiles, climbing equipment, and seats for parents along the walls. There are also washrooms with change-tables right next to the play area.

This is a perfect place for the kids to burn off some energy before a flight. Just release them and sit down and take it easy for a bit! The only problem I've found is getting the kids to leave when it's time to go!

The food court in Sea-Tac's Central Terminal.

Where to eat
There are a wide variety of restaurants and cafes throughout the airport: Japanese food, burgers and fries, sandwiches, pasta... it's all available. When I am traveling with the kids, we usually grab something to eat in the food court in the Central Terminal and watch the planes while we eat.

Other family-friendly features and facilities

  • There's free wi-fi throughout the airport.
  • There are also charger kiosks where you can charge your cell-phone, mp3 player or other electronic devices: Sea-Tac's FAQ has more information.
  • If you need to rent strollers or car seats, you can do so at Ken's Baggage & Frozen Food Storage.
  • Several large restrooms are available at Sea-Tac, which makes it a lot easier to take the kids to the bathroom, especially if you have a stroller as well as hand-luggage with you.
  • More information about services and accessibility at Sea-Tac for persons with special needs can be found here.
Note: Sea-Tac is a big airport and it uses a train to connect the various terminal buildings. You will probably have to take this train to get to your gate. The trains are easy to find and leave frequently. It is good to be aware of this "extra travel step" when you're calculating how much time to allow when getting from point A to point B!

Hotels
There are a lot of accommodation choices in the area around Sea-Tac Airport. Many hotels offer shuttles to the airport, or are close to the Light Rail. The hotel website Seattle Southside offers some good search features to help you find and book a hotel.

Picture of Sea-Tac food-court by Phantomkid, via Wikimedia.

4 comments:

  1. New follower! I am looking forward to keeping up with you and your writings!

    Please follow us back over at
    http://threewisemommys.blogspot.com

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  2. Looks like we will be spending some time at Seatac on route to San Diego. Actually flying from Bellingham, however we have a layover in Seattle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the better way to fly a lot of times, compared to Vancouver. And definitely a good airport if you're traveling with kids. Have a great trip! I want to take the kids to San Diego sometime... lots to see!

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