Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA, ICAO: KSEA) is also called Sea-Tac Aiport or shortly SeaTac. It is the largest airport in the Northwest region of the United states. It is the home base of Alaska Airlines and its regional subsidiary Horizon Air. Due to this fact the chance of taking pictures of special liveries is high.
The airport Seattle-Tacoma was founded in 1944 for civil aviation after the military took control over the airport of Boeing in Everett. The commercial flights started in1947 and in 1949 the airport got the addition ‘international’ after the flights of Northwest Airlines to Tokio started. In 2017 about over 46,9 million passengers flew from Sea-Tac to national and international destinations in North America, Europe and Asia.
Written by Achim Walther, Clive Grant and Thomas Okaty (last update June 2019)
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (14 votes, average: 4.14 out of 5)
|16L/34R||3.627 m (11,901 ft)|
|16C/34C||2.873 m (9,426 ft)|
|16R/34L||2.591 m (8,500 ft)|
|Terminals||International flights only.|
|Central Terminal||All other carriers|
|North Satellite||Alaska Airlines only|
|South Satellite||All International arrivals|
|Car/Public Transport||As usual in the USA highly recommended|
|Restrooms||Inside the Fast Food Restaurants in Sunnydale, next to spot 1-3.|
|Drinks/Food||Plenty of Fast Food Restaurants in Sunnydale, next to spot 1-3.|
|Hotels||Several at the side of the terminals|
|Season||Better weather during summer and longer days. North/South directions is also perfect during this period.|
|16L/34R||Used by bigger planes like B747, B777 or MD11-F|
|16R/34L||Smaller Planes like B737 or Bombardier Dash|
|Spot #1 – Waste Water Plant|
|WHERE||The Spot is situated next to a water plant and is a popular location for local spotters.
Coming from the North Interstate 5 take the exit to Southcenter Blvd. eastbound. Coming from the South you take the Exit to Highway 405. Follow the road until the next exit to Washington 181, turn left on Wash. 181 (in the direction north) and drive left onto the Southcenter Blvd.Drive East until you could turn right into the 24th Avenue South. Pass the parking lot and then you’ll see the green on the left. Turn into the 146th Street South and turn left before the entrance to the airport parking lot. You can park directly at the location. There is space for 4-5 cars.
For route guide systems: 2208 South 146th Street
|WHAT||Arrivals on 16L and 16C and taxiway.|
|TIME||From sunrise until late morning.|
|MISC.||No drinks and no food, bring what you need. No restrooms and no shelter.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||300mm for a B737 on taxiway
>50mm for arrivals on 16L, up to 400mm for arrivals on 16C
|Spot #2 – Baseball Field|
|WHERE||Just follow the 146th Street eastbound to the end. You’ll find a small turning area for parking. For route guide systems: 14649 16th Avenue South|
|WHAT||Best for landings on 16R|
|TIME||Best before mid-day, in the afternoon you might get problems with the light.|
|MISC.||Be patient if there are games taking place on the baseball field and don´t hang around with your huge tele lense.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||approx. 200mm for a B737|
|Spot #3 – Mathison Park|
|WHERE||This rather small recreational area named “Mathison Park” is located on the southside of S 146th street (right on top of the hill). Park your car roadside at the entrance and walk past the playground inside the park. Follow the winding paved path downwards until you reach the opening between the bushes and trees shown in the overview picture below (marked on the map). This location can also be reached by public transport (bus route 132), check the King County Metro website for schedule and fares.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on 16R.|
|TIME||From around noon until sunset.|
|MISC.||You only have a small window for taking the pictures, but you can see the planes early enough. Choose a high frequency on your camera. No restrooms, no food, no drinks, bring everything you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||737-800: 350mm|
|Spot #4 – 192th Street|
|WHERE||From Airport (Pacific Highway South) turn right on South 188 Street eastbound and pass the tunnel. After the tunnel turn left on the first street into 16th Avenvue South and follow the road. After a right turn cross the traffic lights straight on.
From WA-509 go to the end and follow the DeMoines Memorial Drive (left on frist traffic lights). At the second traffic lights turn right.
The street rises choose a place on the left. You can park your car beside the street.
For route guide systems: 1100 South 192nd Street
|WHAT||Best for Landing on 34L, weak for 34R|
|TIME||The light is lovely from mid-day/afternoon until sunset.|
|MISC.||You only have a small angle for taking the pictures. You must wait until you hear the planes and choose the fast frequency at your camera.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||135mm for a B737|
|Spot #5 – Slip road mound – Arriving traffic on Runway 34L|
|WHERE||This is an altenative to #4 with a better angle but difficult to reach. On foot from the airport, route south on Pacific Highway South and then head west on South 188th Street. After the tunnel, when you get to the slip road for Route 509, cross over onto the triangle of land opposite and climb up to the highest point in the shade of the trees.
We didn´t discovered this spot by car but to find a legal parking nearby is not easy. You can try it in the locals neigbourhood southwest of the spot. If you stay at one of the airport hotels (see map) its approximate 30 minutes to walk.
|WHAT||All arrivals on Runway 34L.|
|TIME||The light is lovely from mid-day/afternoon until sunset.|
|MISC.||Shade is available under the trees but there are no facilities here so bring what you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Between about 130mm up to about 300mm should cover most things from here.|
|Spot #6 – Airport Terminal|
|WHERE||Once passed security and beeing airside, there are a number of options in terms of views of the apron and runway. You don`t need a boarding pass to get there if you are applicate for the “SEA Visitor Pass Programm”. It is free of charge and allows you access to the gate area. The programm is limited to 200 persons per day. Check out the official website for more infos and the application.|
|WHAT||The C Gates facing west are probably the best for photography for all arrivals and departures on Runway 16L/34R and all traffic on the adjacent taxiway.
The north and east sides of the South Satellite offer options for taking photos of traffic arriving and departing from the adjacent gates or taxiing to the north and east of the South Satellite..
|TIME||Depends on angle and position. C gates west in the mornings only.|
|MISC.||All photos are taken through glass so care is needed to avoid reflections. All the facilities you need are available in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||About 50mm-300mm will cover most things from here.|