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New International Arrival Facility Opened at Seattle-Tacoma Airport

International Arrival Facility, Pedestrian Walkway – Seattle Tacoma Airport (photo: Katie Bailey/Airlinegeeks)

On March 3, the Port of Seattle has officially presented the new International Arrival Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which includes a Grand Hall, an International Security Corridor and the spectacular 780-feet long, 85-feet high Pedestrian Walkway, which represents the world’s longest structure over an active taxi lane. Becoming one of the most daring architectural structures at any airport in the United States and around the world.

This new facility replaces the current Customs facility that was opened 50 years ago and allows the airport to almost double the number of gates from 12 to 20 and increase its processing capability from 1,200 to 2,600 passengers per hour.

International Arrival Facility – Seattle Tacoma Airport (photo: Katie Bailey|Airlinegeeks)

“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.

A New Dawn for Seattle Airport

Ribbon cutting for the International Arrival Facility – Seattle Tacoma Airport (photo: Katie Bailey/Airlinegeeks)

The inauguration event took place on the upstairs mezzanine level where the passengers with Global Entry would stop to check-in via kiosk and overlooking the baggage claim area that has increased the number of claim carousels from four to seven, allowing the airport to reduce the minimum connecting time from 90 to 75 minutes. After the Managing Director for Seattle-Tacoma Airport opened the ceremony reminding of the new international services that will come to the airport during the summer, such as Finnair to Helsinki and Delta Air Lines to London, the Governor for the State of Washington Jay Inslee made a surprise appearance: “This is a great morning here in the state of Washington, to see this beautiful facility, and I am just here to say thanks from the seven and a half million Washingtonians – to everyone involved in this incredible facility, from the construction people to the designers, to the administrators who worked through the middle of a pandemic to deliver this facility. “

Bag claim hall, International Arrival Facility – Seattle Tacoma Airport (photo: Katie Bailey/Airlinegeeks)

Throughout its construction, the IAF project has supported approximately 10,600 jobs for a total of 3 million labor hours. The approved cost of the project was just under $1 billion.

An Environmentally Sustainable Facility

This new part of Seattle Airport has been built “to fulfill the Port’s mission of environmental stewardship and sustainability”, and therefore includes:

  • 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 Longest Airport Bridge In The World

International Arrival Facility, Pedestrian Walkway – Seattle Tacoma Airport (photo: Katie Bailey/Airlinegeeks)

The most stunning piece of this entire project is the impressive pedestrian walkway connecting the international gates to the new Grand Hall. The structure is similar to the one that can be found at London Gatwick Airport but it’s longer and has a higher vertical clearance. Its 610-feet clearspan allows for an aircraft’s wingspan and tailfin (even for Boeing 747s and 777s) to safely pass underneath the structure. Most of this monumental masterpiece was built offsite with 17 major pre-fabricated components that were made using 3,000 tons of steel.

There will be five escalators in the elevated pedestrian walkway, and they will rank among the top 10 longest in the U.S. with the longest measuring 191 feet for an 80-foot rise.

Vanni Gibertini


  • Vanni Gibertini

    Vanni fell in love with commercial aviation during his undergraduate studies in Statistics at the University of Bologna, when he prepared his thesis on the effects of deregulation on the U.S. and European aviation markets. Then he pursued his passion further by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in the U.K. followed by holding several management positions at various start-up carriers in Europe (Jet2, SkyEurope, Silverjet). After moving to Canada, he was Business Development Manager for IATA for nine years before turning to his other passion: sports writing.

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