Anyone that has arrived in Seattle on an international flight will know that the arrivals facility was a bit cramped and unwelcoming. The airport has been building a new arrivals facility for a while now. It was supposed to open a while back but got delayed by a variety of things, not least COVID. The new building has been built alongside the A concourse in the main terminal with a bridge connecting the South Satellite to bring arriving passengers across.
The whole thing is due to have a soft open in April 2022 and be fully open by May. The airport requested volunteers to come and help test the systems to see how they handle a volume of people. You can do a variety of tests but the true test is when a load of people show up. This is still not going to be as much load as it will get when multiple international flights arrive at the same time but it is part of the process.
I volunteered to take part. Yes, I was happy to help out but I was also keen to have a nose around the new facility. I was hoping to get to see the new bridge and the view it provides of the ramp area but was to be disappointed. Everything we were testing was on the A concourse side of things. We did have a good view of the new bridge though.
We were given assignments for our run through the arrivals procedure. We had various elements that we needed to engage with and evaluate. I was arriving on a flight with Emirates and had to connect to a Delta flight. I needed to collect one piece of luggage and then clear immigration and recheck my luggage. At two locations, we had to complete surveys based on what we had experienced. We started at a gate waiting area and then entered the gate to turn on to the route an arriving passenger would take. The route is alongside the ramp area so you get a great view of the airport as you walk through. The new buildings are quite airy and spacious and very white!
Most things worked well enough. A few things could do with tweaking and it will be interesting to see whether the areas that got backed up for us will cope when the real passengers show up and staffing is increased. Hopefully it will be a lot nicer way to arrive in SEA than was previously the case. I would avoid it in the first few days since I imagine there will be some teething issues but, after that, it should be a welcome change.