Secrets of Sea-Tac International Airport

SEA RAINIER

Seattle Met recently put together an Insider’s Guide to one-flight vacations from Seattle. All those adventures begin (and end) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), and I was honored to be asked to put together a list of Sea-Tac Airport secrets.

Here they are:

1. Hidden Art
Sea-Tac’s museum-worthy contemporary art collection includes works by Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella, not to mention regional hotshots like Trimpin, whose multimedia kinetic sculpture On Monkeys, Matter and the King is on Concourse A. There’s art everywhere, including the baggage claim area and in some restrooms—download a tour map here .

2. Tune In & Turn Off
Wi-Fi is free throughout the airport and the Quiet Zone (Concourse B, Gate 4) has powered seats, but no TV noises or overhead announcements. There are (usually) more than a dozen rocking chairs by the giant window in the Central Terminal and a meditation room on the mezzanine level above Checkpoint 3.

3. Food Forever
Anthony’s Restaurant (Central Terminal) is the highest grossing sit-down restaurant at any U.S. airport. All airport food venues, including Ivar’s Seafood Bar, are open for breakfast.

4. Shopping Sells
While Sleepless in Seattle sleepwear is still a top seller at Sea-Tac, sexy is gaining: in 2012 more than 20,000 copies of the erotic page-turner 50 Shades of Grey—also set in our fair gray city—were sold at Sea-Tac. And because of the airport’s “street pricing” policy, all food and retail prices match those at the same vendors in town.

5. Lost is Found
Last year the Sea-Tac Lost and Found department logged 30,000 items, including 1,105 laptops and 1,220 cellphones—and 40 percent of them were returned to owners. After 30 days, unclaimed items are donated to charity, so if you lose something, hightail it to the mezzanine level of the Main Terminal or file a lost item report immediately.

6. Burn Before Boarding
Work out while you wait: It’s a half-mile from the Central Terminal to the end of Concourse A. Walk the full length of Concourses A, B, C, and D and you’ll have traveled over two miles.

7. Kids Play Free
There’s an aviation-themed play area at the Concourse B entrance; nearby, kids can search for bronze fish in the terrazzo “stream” that meanders along the Concourse B floor. Talking fountains (well, they play a recorded gurgle) are in Concourses B, C, and D.

8. Fly with Fido
Dogs find relief at either end of the Main Terminal; the south pet area is outside and park-like, with a yellow painted steel sculpture by Robert Maki at its center. There’s also an indoor pet area with artificial grass and a red fire hydrant post-security, near the Concourse C entrance.

9. No Sleep Till Takeoff
Most restaurant concessions open by 5 am, but 24-hour options include the pre-security Starbucks in the Main Terminal, the post-security Starbucks kiosk in the Central Terminal, Alki Bakery in baggage claim and, in the Central Terminal, Qdoba and Dilettante Chocolate.

10. Local Beats
That’s Macklemore, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and other local musicians voicing the safety and public service messages on the airport’s overhead announcements. Regional music is also played overhead and on screens throughout Sea-Tac; tune into the airport’s recently upgraded multichannel web player via the Wi-Fi landing page or here. A live music program is rumored to roll out later in March.

11. Fix Everything
If something’s wrong, Ken’s Baggage and Frozen Food Storage (in baggage claim, between carousels 12 and 13) can likely help. The bouquet of services includes stroller and infant car-seat rentals, a notary, copy services, packaging material and pet kennel sales, and tool rentals to jump a car battery or open a locked car door.

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