Comparing Seattle Airports


Flying to Seattle anytime soon? You’ll be happy to know you are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the right airport to fly into. Where you’re going or where you’re coming from can help dictate which airport you’ll end up at, but if you aren’t limited to a main airline on an international flight, there are more cost-efficient routes from smaller airports you could take instead.

This guide on Seattle airports will give you all the information you need to know before you book travel, from how to get there to what kind of flights you can take.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle’s main airport, affectionately known as Sea-Tac or Sea Airport, serves the Seattle metropolitan area. With over 15 million passengers per year, it’s the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest region of the continent. Compared to other airports in the United States that have similar annual passenger numbers, Sea-Tac Airport is much smaller than other airports. It’s also considered one of the fastest-growing airports in the entire country and offers domestic and international flights to a large number of cities in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Sea Airport is the primary hub for some large airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines. In fact, Delta Air Lines recently expanded its service out of Sea-Tac to include regular flights into Asia, so almost any trip is possible at this airport.

To get to and from Sea-Tac by public transit, you can take the light rail directly into the airport. Hop on Seattle’s Red Line for a quick trip to or from the downtown area to the airport, and with such frequent service, there’s a minimal hassle. The King County Metro bus system also has bus routes that service the airport, and Sound Transit offers regional express buses. If you’re looking for a quicker way, you could hop on one of the airport’s door-to-door shuttle services from Shuttle Express or Speedi Shuttle.

If you’d rather skip the effort of public transit and prefer to drive and park your car at the airport, there is paid on-site parking. With 13,000 parking spaces, it’s North America’s largest parking structure under a single roof. There are also some more privately-owned parking lots near the airport.

To get to the airport, Interstate 5, Interstate 405 and State Route 518 all connect to the airport. Don’t have your own car and can’t get someone to drive you? Ridesharing options like Uber, Lyft and Wingz can also get you there.

King County International Airport Boeing Field

More commonly referred to as Boeing Field, BFI Airport or KCIA, this airport is a publicly owned and operated airport located five miles south of downtown Seattle. It was Seattle’s primary airport until Seattle-Tacoma International Airport opened in the mid-1940s.

The majority of flights coming in and out of BFI Airport are cargo and general aviation flights; however, there are some short-haul passenger routes operated by Kenmore Air and JSX. Kenmore Air offers daily seaplane service to the northern islands Eastsound/Orcas Island and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, while JSX provides daily passenger service to Oakland International Airport in California.

You can take various public transit routes to get to Boeing Field. There are a number of bus routes that can get you there from either downtown or the surrounding Seattle area, including routes 107, 124, and 60.

If you’d rather drive, Boeing Field is only a 15-minute drive down Interstate 5 from downtown Seattle. There are on-site, off-site, short-term and long-term parking lots available that you can choose from. Uber and Lyft also offer rideshare service if that’s your preferred way to get there.

Paine Field Passenger Terminal

Although Paine Field is actually located 45-minutes south in the city of Everett, some residents prefer the new airport because of its small size and intimate travel experience. There’s one two-gate passenger terminal that offers a mere 18 daily flights on Alaska Airlines to main cities, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Phoenix. United also has service to two destinations: San Francisco and Denver.

For travelers who want to fly commercial up and down the west coast, flying in and out of Paine Field is the better option to avoid crowds and long lines for security and check-in.

To get to Paine Field Passenger Terminal by public transportation, you can take the Everett Transit Route 8 straight into the departures/arrivals area of the terminal. You could also take the Community Transit Swift Green line or the Community Transit 105 Bus, but both options include a roughly 10-minute walk into the terminal. There are also shuttle services offered, including the Bellair/Airporter Shuttle and Whidbey Sea-Tac Shuttle. If you’re driving yourself, Interstate 5 onto SR-526 can easily get you there.