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Olympia to SEA

Denis and I have recently relocated to Olympia, Washington. This means that SEA would be our local airport. For those of you who live here, how do you get to the airport? Obviously we can drive, but if we're gone any length of time, leaving the car in long-term parking wouldn't be desirable. It's just us, so having family or friends drive us isn't an option. Also, some have mentioned going up the night before and staying there. There are no hotels at the airport. So.....why do you do that and where would you recommend staying? Thanks for your input.

Donna

Posted by
2598 posts

There are a couple of hotels that are right at the airport. We use them often. The Crowne Plaza is nice and you can just walk across the street on the SkyBridge to the airport.

Other times, we use a car service. I like this one because they're in my actual city - just a few miles away. They are extremely safe drivers, nice cars, nice people. https://booking.allblacklimoseattle.com/#/

And we do go up the night before for early flights. Traffic is crazy here. And you're coming from Olympia - you've got all the JBLM traffic as well.

Posted by
6984 posts

I don't know the hotel situation right at SEA, but even if there aren't hotels at/in the airport there will be nearby hotels with free shuttles to the airport. That may be what people do who spend the night before a flight near SEA. I know that's what we do when flying out of PDX and don't want to park in long term parking. There's always plenty of hotels near just about any major airport with free shuttles.

Posted by
1867 posts

We use a car service. Not a fancy one, but there is a group of drivers that go between the Snohomish area and SEA for $50-60 each way. An Uber runs us about $110 and a town car is about $150. I found the drivers from our local Facebook page, so you might ask neighbors etc for someone that serves your area.

Posted by
505 posts

We take Premier Airport Shuttle when we are going to be gone over a week “Private Van Service”. Otherwise we park at Extra Airport Parking. Both offer a discount if you book online in advance.

Posted by
6581 posts

As stated above, there are indeed a few hotels right around the airport. Do choose carefully though, as it's not exactly a delightful area. Avoid the bottom end places.

My spouse and I have established a little "airport ride buddies" circle among a handful of friends and co-workers. They drive us, we drive them, it all works out fairly well (at least most of the time...our next trip starts with a 6 am flight departure, which means getting to the airport around 3:00 - 3:30 am, which means a 2:30- 3:00 am pickup, and I think that's a lot to ask...so we will probably just bite the bullet and take a taxi or lyft for that one).

Posted by
2145 posts

Over the years we done lots of different options. When I traveled by myself I used Premier Shuttle, which used to be Capitol Aeroporter and always had successful trips both directions. When I travel with my husband we use GotLimo and we’ve used them successfully for close to 20 years. When we’ve done the airport hotel option, we’ve stayed at most of them between the Crowne Plaza and 188th as well at the Hampton Inn on 28th and the one by Angle Lake. I personally wouldn’t go any farther north or south. We’re in the Hilton rewards program, so we tend to use them and they all have shuttles. The Radisson and the Crowne Plaza are probably the easiest walk to the airport. Our last stay was at the Doubletree and that was fine.

Posted by
6323 posts

I'll second Carol's plug for Premier Airport Shuttle. They used to be called Capital Aeroporter, which is how many Olympia people might remember them, but they expanded to serve a wider area after Covid put some other services out of business. They offer private door-to-door rides, but we've always done fine with the shared door-to-door van service over many years. They took me to SEA and back last month, and they're taking my wife and me at the end of December. They charge about $105 for the two of us, each way. They give you a pickup time, which might change as the date gets closer and they get more reservations. Sometimes the trip home takes longer than I like, especially after a 10-hour flight, because of dropping off others north of Thurston County. They're very conscientious about staying in touch by smartphone and on schedule. They've always gotten me to SEA two or three hours ahead of flight time, depending on domestic vs. international. Unless you have a friend who can drive you (and are prepared to return the favor), I don't know of a more cost-effective way to handle this transfer.

With early AM flights, we sometimes go up to SeaTac the night before. There are numerous hotels along International Blvd, across from the terminal. I can recommend the Hilton, Doubletree, La Quinta, Coast, Radisson, and Red Lion, all with shuttle service and also close enough to walk if necessary (we've never needed to). Premier Airport Shuttle charges an extra $5 to drop you at an airport hotel rather than the terminal. Some of the hotels have park-and-fly rates that might work if you want to drive yourselves and the cost pencils out. Usually for us it doesn't, but we've gone that route too.

Welcome to Olympia! PM me if you want more info or ideas. It's too far from SEA for an easy transfer, but we also don't have to deal with airport traffic and noise. At some point the Puget Sound area will probably need more air service capacity, and our county has recently shot down a proposed new airport here. Stay tuned. ;-)

Posted by
6873 posts

We lived in the Seattle area for 30 years before moving in 2019 after retirement. We used the parking options a lot that were located a few miles away from the airport with shuttles that go to the airport.

Otherwise, we occasionally took the Shuttle Express to/from our home.

Posted by
1643 posts

It's too bad Amtrak doesn't stop at the airport.

Is Sound Transit going to link Oly and T-Town to SEA eventually?

Posted by
991 posts

But Amtrak will get you to Tukwila which is close to the airport. Could catch an Uber from there.

Posted by
3128 posts

Born and raised in Washington. At one point, we considered moving to Port Townsend, a lovely town. However, we decided not to because it would be difficult to get to the airport. My rule of thumb is no more than 45 minutes from an international airport.

Posted by
1867 posts

Jean--We used to use Shuttle Express as well, but with Covid they now only do town cars and private van shuttles, so it is not cheap like it used to be.

I will say that for an airport hotel, absolutely avoid the La Quinta. We stayed there last December as a snowstorm came in the night before our international flight. It was disgusting. The shuttle at 4am was the only redeeming quality.

Posted by
6323 posts

Hank, I expect that eventually Sound Transit will get to Thurston County, but not in my lifetime (or likely yours either unless you're maybe a kid). We're not paying for it now so no short-term prospects. The light rail's next stop will be in Des Moines, and eventually it should reach Tacoma.

Posted by
329 posts

Donna & Denis, Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!

Just a caution about Amtrak - I wish it weren’t so, because I’m a big fan of public transit, but Amtrak might not be a reliable option to the airport. We live in Seattle and with family in the Vancouver, WA area and our daughter having attended college south of Portland, we‘ve traveled by train many times along the Amtrak Cascades route that includes Olympia and Tukwila and often experienced delayed train. Some delays were just minutes and some were hours long.

On paper it looks good, in reality Amtrak shares the rails with freight trains which take priority over passenger trains. Add in rock slides, poor track conditions and bad weather and you’ve got regular delays. According to WSDOT.wa.gov, in 2022, Amtrak had a 47.2% on time performance in Washington State. So, over half of the trains were regularly late by more than 10 minutes.

Posted by
4131 posts

We were in the PNW in the summer of 2022. We rented a place near Rainier (closest "major" town is Yelm). I suspect we were farther away from Sea-Tac than you are. It was a rural, quiet location, but logistics were difficult and time-consuming due to the distances involved.

My husband and I each had to take early flights from Sea-Tac to Tucson a couple of weeks apart in June. In both cases, we spent the night before our flights at a hotel on International Blvd. (99) nearby with shuttle service to the airport. In both cases he had a delicious meal at 13 Coins (highly recommend it) right across International Blvd. from the airport. The 1st one was with me before he dropped me off and the 2nd one was with our friend from Bonney Lake who drove all the way down to the house to pick him up and drive him to the motel.

This was not the 1st time I or we've spent the night at a hotel near the airport before a flight the next day, even when we lived much closer or the flight wasn't early.

Since flights to Europe are typically later in the day, one thing you might check into is driving to Tacoma or Auburn and taking the Sounder from there. Both have substantial parking facilities. I have no idea what the cost is or what the security is like these days. Decades ago, we did park at the one in Tacoma over a long weekend one time when we took Amtrak to Portland and back. Others may be able to suggest other good Sounder parking options closer to Olympia.

It would probably also be worthwhile to check into any deals that the hotels might have that would include parking while you're gone. We did that a couple of times near Sea-Tac, but it was also decades ago.

I do understand the reticence about paying for long-term parking. When we're up there I'm shocked at the daily cost, especially since I pay $3.59 per day for covered parking with shuttle service to and back from the Tucson airport. I have to park there for 5 weeks before it costs about the same as a round trip shuttle from my house and back.

Posted by
165 posts

Last December we stayed at the Quality Inn, 2900 S 192nd St before an early flight the next day. We booked via the Park/Sleep/Fly website, and this hotel was one of several choices at different price points. Room for one night was $168, but that included shuttle to/from their parking lot, and free parking while we were gone for several days. The hotel is nothing fancy but was clean and the staff was courteous. We were so glad we did this because there was a snowstorm and our outbound flight was cancelled. We were able to scramble and rebook an even earlier flight on another airline, saving our vacation - not an option we could have entertained if we'd been at home. Particularly during busy travel times, I'd strongly advise staying at the airport the night before.

Posted by
6323 posts

Neither Amtrak nor the Sounder goes close to SEA. Neither works to get there unless you want to take them to Seattle and then the light rail back south to the airport. Very inefficient. And Amtrak is indeed unreliable, with frequent delays. It's a fun way to travel if you're not on a schedule, but I'd never rely on it for a connection.

Posted by
10842 posts

if we're gone any length of time, leaving the car in long-term parking wouldn't be desirable.

I have no idea what a shuttle or taxi would cost, but depending on how long you are gone, i suggest you look at the cost of a one way car rental. Looking at Costco Travel, for random date in March, the Olympia to SEA was around $120 and the reverse around $70.

What do you mean by "leaving the car in long-term parking wouldn't be desirable" ? The cost or concerned about security ?

Posted by
228 posts

Oh! All this information is wonderful and so helpful! Thanks to all of you! It may be a while until we can travel again, as this house we recently bought will be occupying our time, energy, and money. But at least now I know......... like if I decide an emergency sunshine fix in Hawaii is in order ;-)

@ Joe: We know nothing about cost or safety, but do know that should we be fortunate enough to take another lengthy trip to Europe, we would prefer the car to stay at home in the garage.