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Sea-Tac Airport gets busier as travelers credit vaccines and spring break as reasons to fly

The TSA unveiled new technology at Sea-Tac Airport to keep lines moving and stay socially-distant.

SEATAC, Wash. — Armed with a COVID-19 vaccination, more travelers are heading to Sea-Tac International Airport to jump on a flight. Spring break is also prompting people to take the kids and get out of town.

According to the latest departure numbers from the airport, more than 25,000 people boarded planes at Sea-Tac this week. That is nearly 10 times the departure numbers during the low point of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020. That number is expected to hit 35,000 daily departures next week.

To speed up the security lines that are already growing longer, and to provide more separation between passengers and Transportation Security Agency (TSA) agents, the TSA showed media the newest equipment at Sea-Tac.

One is called Credential Authentication Technology, or CAT. You put your driver's license or passport into one of two scanners. That calls up your information and automatically confirms if you are cleared to head to your flight or not. It can also spot fake identification much more easily. For this step in getting out of town, a boarding pass is no longer required, but the pass is still required at the gate to actually board the plane.

RELATED: Everyone 16 and older in Washington will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by May 1

The second technology involves your carry-on luggage. How many times have you, or have you seen someone, have to stop while an agent opens up the bag and takes a look around because something potentially suspicious was detected by the X-ray? With this new 3-D imaging technology using a CT scanner, an agent can electronically see the object inside the bag and determine whether it is benign or not without having to take the time to open the bag. 

Here's the CDC travel guidance, which Washington state follows:

  • Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if you are eligible.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before your trip.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth while in public.
  • Avoid crowds and stay 6 feet apart from anyone who didn’t travel with you.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after your trip and self-quarantine for seven days after your trip. Alternatively, if you don’t get tested, quarantine for 10 days.


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