Last minute travelers at Sea-Tac avoid congestion taking Saturday flights

SEATTLE, Wash. — Malls weren’t the only places crowded with people on the eve of Christmas Eve. Thousands of last minute travelers landed or took off from Sea-Tac International Airport.

More than two million people are expected to fly between Dec. 15 and Jan. 2.

But those leaving at the last minute, ahead of the holidays, were actually in pretty good shape at Sea-Tac Saturday.

From our crew's mid-day drive to the airport, to the moment we pulled into the garage--looking for parking, our plan was to talk to travelers facing the holiday headache.

However, we found most arriving or departing weren't experiencing the "typical" Sea-Tac stresses during the holidays.

"It seems to be better this year, there's not quite as much traffic," said Lisa Rucks at baggage claim, picking up her daughter and granddaughter.

There didn’t appear to be many delays either.

Sea-Tac officials said Saturday and Christmas Eve are pretty quiet days to travel.

According to the airport, Dec. 15, 21 and 22 were the busiest days to travel. Christmas Eve is one of slowest days during the holiday season at Sea-Tac.

"It actually, to me, felt really easy to get off the plane and come straight to baggage claim," said Michelle Rucks. "It didn’t seem much busier to me than usual."

Travelers won't argue with that this time of year.

Jenny Workman drove with her family over Snoqualmie Pass Saturday morning from Wenatchee and arrived early at Sea-Tac. They were heading to sunny San Diego.

"Actually, we left a couple hours early thinking there was going to be a lot of hustle and bustle, but nothing," said Workman, who was traveling with her husband, two kids and their family dog.

The lack of commotion seemed to make it easier for their pup, Chewy.

"This is only his second time flying, I think," said Jenny's daughter, Faith Workman. "He is not as stressed out I guess."

Sea-Tac employees are also doing what they can to minimize the frustrations that can come with holiday flying.

On Friday, airport merchant employees held a holiday parade along the concourse, a welcome distraction to families flying with little kids.

"As long as you're prepared, and they're playing -- they're great," said Crystal Horton about her two kids.

Her husband said they have traveling with kids down to a science.

"No red eyes. Red eyes are not a good idea. Entertainment for the kids, multiple, not just the iPad [and] having some toys to play with and then always just being ready for anything," Brad Horton said.

For travelers with presents, the Transportation Security Administration is advising people to keep gifts unwrapped or put them in bags/boxes.

"TSA recommends that travelers use gift bags and gift boxes when traveling with gifts on an airplane. It’s holiday time and you want to bring gifts with you to hand out upon your arrival. We understand. What we hope that you understand is that if your wrapped gift triggers an alarm, the gift might need to be unwrapped for TSA officers to resolve the alarm. So instead of wrapping a gift, please consider using a gift bag or a gift box so that resolving the alarm will just mean removing the item from the gift bag or gift box without needing to unwrap it. Or, consider wrapping the gift upon your arrival."

Sea-Tac officials said other slow days to travel are typically New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. They also said departures are usually busiest in the mornings, and arrivals are usually the busiest in the evening.