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Sea-Tac Airport

At the end of our tour, my husband and I will be dropped off at Sea-Tac airport, around 1:00 pm. Our flight home will depart at 9:30 pm. No other flights earlier.
We will each have a checked bag + a carry-on. Don’t know when we can check our bag.
Any suggestions as to how we could spend 5-6 hours…or should we just stay at the airport.

Posted by
2219 posts

For that layover time, I would not risk leaving the airport. Do you have a lounge pass? Or maybe buy a day pass. Frankly, there is not much in the area surrounding the airport to do. Southcenter shopping is the only thing I can think of.

Posted by
451 posts

Tammy, we do have “one-time United passes. Good to know your thoughts. We do not want to miss our flight.
Do you have a favorite restaurant/casual dining at the airport.
It’s not that we really need to go anywhere (I went to college in Seattle)

Posted by
5770 posts

Stay in the airport.

As suggested above, use that lounge pass. There is a United Club in SEA (I assume you are flying on United? You may want to check the lounge entry requirements). That lounge is nothing special, but it beats looking for a seat in the food court or fighting for an outlet at a gate. Maybe split your time between the lounge, the food court and walking around (but be careful mixing, most people in the airport are NOT wearing masks -- I was shocked when I stepped off a flight from Tokyo recently and saw everyone immediately maskless).

In pre-COVID times I would say, go get a massage in one of the airport massage shops (there are at least a couple) but right now, IMHO there's far too much air-sharing going on for that kind of close-exposure (if you really want a massage, maybe bring along an ATK test kit, ask the massage therapist to test themself and show you the result before they work you over).

Posted by
5770 posts

My wife and I dined in SEA about 4 weeks ago. I would not say there are any outstanding options that we saw. There were a few tolerable options to choose from in the Food Court. Basic stuff that can get the job done without hurting you, but it's still an airport food court. My wife had something with kale, I think, and I had some teriyaki chicken that was unremarkable. We both lived to tell about it. Calibrate your expectations.

Posted by
843 posts

How adventurous are you and do you like new and different foods? We happen to like Ethiopian food and one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in the greater Settle area is near SeaTac. Star Coffee, https://starcoffeeseatac.webs.com/, is across the street from the car rental location. So you could take the airport shuttle bus to the car rental location to get to and from the restaurant.

Posted by
6513 posts

For me it would depend on the weather and how energetic I felt at the time. Since you are already familiar with Seattle, with that amount of time, I might consider taking a taxi out to Point Defiance Park (Tacoma) - beautiful gardens and Anthony's Seafood Restaurant. We had a wonderful lunch there overlooking the Sound and watching the ferries. Another option would be downtown Tacoma and the Museum of Glass (if you haven't been there). If you're uncomfortable leaving the airport, use the lounge pass and get something to eat in the food court. I've never eaten at that airport - other than fast food in the court so don't know what else is available.

Posted by
8869 posts

I might consider taking a taxi out to Point Defiance Park (Tacoma) -

R/T taxi would run over $200. For $80 could rent a car, if that was a desired destination.

Posted by
6513 posts

Joe32F - I didn't check the price of taxis, it was just a suggestion. I had no idea it would cost so much. Definitely not worth renting a car for 5 hours. Thanks for clarifying.

Posted by
9929 posts

I like the Cafe Flora branch in the airport just down toward the "A" gates. I've never sat down to eat there but usually pickup their spicy hummus wrap to go. When I came thru there on Thursday I wasn't hungry for that but got a piece of their coconut cake on the recommendation of my SIL's sister and oh gosh...it's to die for. It's vegan and delicious!

Posted by
4618 posts

Hi Carol, I don’t know where you live in southern Oregon, but you might want to check Amtrak. I see there’s a train leaving downtown Seattle at 2:12pm heading to Oregon.

There is not much to do at SeaTac.

Posted by
5561 posts

What airline are you using? If it is Alaska, I think they will check bag early. I think the United Lounge also requires a boarding pass in addition to your lounge pass.

There are two "Pay for Visit" lounges called the Club at SEA. One by the A gates and one by the S gates. If you will be satisfied with just a quieter spot out in the main airport, it used to be that going all the way to end of the A gates brought you to a large waiting area that was basically empty. I don't know how the opening of the new International Arrivals Terminal will impact this area or if it will impact it at all. It might be worth checking this area out.

Personally, I would stay at the airport, even though it is boring. Too many issues can come up.

Posted by
5267 posts

Here's what SEA has to say for itself re dining and other services. It looks like the Anthony's restaurant that was being remodeled last time I was there has not reopened yet, but there are other choices. You'll be killing about six hours, I'd suggest staying put, especially if you already know Seattle. Nothing of real interest close to Sea Tac itself. Any kind of lounge access would help, especially if (as seems likely) you've come off a long flight and your body clock is all over the place. I was glad to pay for a lounge during a similar layover at Heathrow a few years ago.

Posted by
451 posts

David: Although we have one-time United passes, we are flying Delta (go figure).
Joe: thanks for link for baggage storage. We’ll see how adventurous we feel next week.
Trotter…Ethiopian? Husband will eat anything; me, not so much.
Pam: you got my attention with “coconut cake,” having grown up with 2 coconut trees in our yard! It’s my weakness.
Carol: Yes, we are heading to downtown Seattle tomorrow. I need to find a dress for a family wedding…as well as finding a good seafood restaurant for lunch.
Dick: not coming from an international flight, but Friday Harbor.

Posted by
843 posts

Okay, I know that Ethiopian may not be for everyone so I'll make two other restaurant suggestions. First, 13 Coins, https://www.13coins.com/, which is across International Blvd. from the airport. I've taken people there for a meal who have picked me up/dropped me off at the airport. Especially if it's off hours you can probably hang out in the lounge with a coffee or drink. Second would be Copper Leaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge, https://www.cedarbrooklodge.com/copperleaf-restaurant.php. The hotel (3 miles from the airport) runs a shuttle to/from the airport. I'm not sure how it would work for dining (without hotel reservations), but it's a beautiful setting and excellent restaurant.

Posted by
451 posts

Trotter: Good to know you recommend 13 Coins. We walked there from our hotel this afternoon for a late lunch/early dinner. Yes, food was great! We should have sat in the lounge for Happy Hour prices, but the booths called our name.
In fact, we might consider going back because it is “walkable” from the airport.
Good to know “locals” eat there.

Posted by
5561 posts

Shopping in downtown Seattle for dresses is extremely limited unless you can afford Nordstrom’s. The other stores have all moved out of downtown.

Posted by
800 posts

Can you get "dropped off" elsewhere? I'm not sure what kind of a tour you're on, but if it's a cruise I'd just fund my own transportation instead of going to SeaTac 8 hours early. You have at least 6 hours to spend before you need to arrive, and at 9:30 pm SeaTac is almost deserted.

The biggest problem is that SeaTac is not in Seattle or Tacoma, and there's not a lot to do in the immediate area. If you're already in Seattle I'd stay there and head to the airport around 7. There's a lot you can do in Seattle in 6 hours. Likewise if you're tour ends in Tacoma (which I really don't expect) I'd follow the same time frame.

If you do have to go there first I'd check my baggage and depart. (Note most airlines do not want you to check baggage more than 2 hours early.) You can rent a car, Uber, Lyft, take a cab, etc; but don't hang around the airport.

Southcenter Mall is 2 miles from the airport. Lots of stores, movie theaters, places to eat, etc. A much better option for just killing 6 hours.

If you're interested in airplanes take a ride over to the Boeing Museum. You can easily spend 3-4 hours there.

If you like gardens visit Highline Gardens and walk around a bit.

13 Coins is okay, I've eaten there dozens of times when waiting to pick someone up at the airport or for business. But you have enough time to do better. Take a ride to Burian. Eat at the Elliot Bay Brewhouse or the Burian Fish House. Then walk a block to Bakery Nouveau and hope they still have something for sale (very possibly the best bakery in WA State.) There's lot's of little shops if you want to walk around there too. But even if you head back to the airport it's still going to have been better than just sitting in an uncomfortable chair and paying crazy prices.

Posted by
804 posts

KGC has some great suggestions for your time after your tour and before your flight takeoff from SeaTac. The suggestion for the Museum of Flight is spot on and the short trip to Burien for lunch and possibly the best buttery baked deliciousness at Bakery Nouveau is also an excellent idea. Be aware though, that Burien Fish House is closed on Sundays and Mondays and the bakery is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fish House has the best fish and chips in the Seattle area, IMHO. If you go to the Museum of Flight, I doubt you will have time for Burien. Do one or the other options, I think.

Posted by
102 posts

I think Burien is a good option for your time. Bakery Nouveau never disappoints. The Fish House is a casual, very good restaurant. I also like Bok A Bok, which has very good fried chicken. Taqueria Casa Mixteca has excellent short ribs, and short rib tamales are also excellent. El Rinconsito has good street tacos and other typical Mexican food. 152nd Street has a little park, most of the restaurants, shops, library, and Thursday Farmer's market.
P.S. Taxi fare is about $20 each way from SEA

Posted by
451 posts

KGC, Donna, Linda: Thank you all for responding to my question:
I found out yesterday that our “first night hotel” will hold our bags for us, so we do not have to check in at the airport. Our hotel is adjacent to the sea-tac lightRail stop.
So, could we go to the following via the light Rail: Southgate mall, Burien, and any of the restaurants you listed.
We’ll be traveling tomorrow, Saturday.
Thanks for your suggestions.
We can always go back to downtown Seattle.

Posted by
804 posts

Carol, the King County Metro bus system is where you will find all the schedules. As Carol now retired mentioned, you can pick up a bus for SouthCenter mall from the Tukwila light rail station. Link to the bus system is here:

https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro.aspx

Here is a route map for Bus #128 that goes to SouthCenter.

https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/maps/route.aspx#maps-69

Here is a Trip Planner route from Tukwila Light Rail station to Burien:

https://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/#/app/tripplanning/itinerarydetails/47.46427/-122.288401/99900%20@%20Tukwila%20Int%20l%20Blvd%20Station/47.469965/-122.337468/52301%20@%20Burien%20Transit%20Center%20BAY%201%20(NB)/1///W05/////////STP/50476/STP/73036

If you find yourselves short on time, Uber and Lyft cars are usually readily available from Burien or SouthCenter Mall.

Posted by
804 posts

Carol now retired, I have noticed your suggestion of Citymapper app on several of the Forum postings lately and I will check it out. I have an app called City Maps To Go but it had some drawbacks. For my Scotland and London trip in August/September, CityMapper may come in handy. Thanks

Posted by
451 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions on what to do in Seattle for 7 hours before checking in at the airport. As I mentioned above, we were able to store our bags at the hotel adjacent to the Sea-Tac Airport. Since Saturday was one of those rare Seattle days: sunny and warm, with Mt. Rainier clearly visible, we opted to spend our time outdoors (I'll save the SouthCenter Mall for another visit to the area).
We took the Link to downtown Seattle, where we had lunch at Din Tai Fung (nothing like that in our area), then walked to the Seattle Center to work off lunch, wandered around, and then rode the Monorail back to city center...and Link back to our hotel where we picked up our bags for checking in at the airport.
It was 7:00 p.m. by the time we got through security...and by then we were slightly hungry, so headed to Cafe Flora intending to buy a slice of coconut cake, but it was closed along with all the adjacent eating places.
Carol (now retired) I did download the City Mapper app so thanks for that suggestion.