Support Us Button Widget

Sea-Tac International Airport celebrates 75th anniversary

Sea-Tac International Airport was dedicated on July 9, 1949. At the time, it could only host 1,500 passengers a day.

Seatac opening20.jpg

Western Airlines was one of the three that moved their airline services from Boeing Airport to SEA after its opening.

Photo via Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch Port of Seattle Photograph Collection

Get those party hats and noise makers ready — Sea-Tac Airport is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its opening on Tuesday, July 9.

And while the airport still has an ongoing plan for growth, let’s step back and look at its earliest days.


The Sea-Tac International Airport’s opening received quite the fanfare in 1949.

Photo via Port of Seattle

Prepare for takeoff

While our sweet little SEA airport is often the first destination on so many Seattleites’ exciting adventures, it sprouted from more serious roots.

Plans for the airport’s construction started to formulate in 1941 as military needs limited civilian access to Paine Field, McChord Field, and Boeing Field — the regional airport of choice in the 1940s.

Two locations were considered for the new airport — a rural Eastside spot near Lake Sammamish (where the Lake Hills neighborhood currently is) and the current site.

Construction began quickly once the Port agreed on the Sea-Tac location and the first runway was completed in 1944. However, it wasn’t until July 9, 1949 that SEA’s official dedication happened. The event drew 30,000 attendees in celebration of what was deemed the most advanced airport terminal in America.

Some other quick facts about the airport at that time:

  • It could serve 1,500 passengers in a day on 60 scheduled flights between four airlines.
  • The airport included restaurants, a barbershop, gift shop, and a lounge when it opened.
  • Eight airplanes could load and unload at any one time.

Time to party hardy

Sea-Tac International Airport certainly isn’t squandering the opportunity to celebrate its diamond jubilee. Planned activities + dedicatory installations include:

  • A rotating 75th anniversary globe in the Central Terminal
  • An interactive map of historical destinations for SEA travelers
  • A scavenger hunt
  • Gift handouts

You also don’t need to have a plane ticket to enjoy the fun. In 2018, Sea-Tac Airport was the first on the West Coast to start a visitor program that so non-travelers can still enjoy the airport’s amenities. All you need to do is apply online.

More from SEAtoday
Some of Seattle’s go-to places for frozen treats are participating in the statewide tour of locally owned shops serving gelato, frozen custard, yogurt, ice cream, and soft serve.
We’re introducing the brains behind SEAtoday’s newsletter, articles, and social media.
To celebrate Hoa Mai Park’s opening, Seattle Parks and Recreation will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony with music, food, children’s activities, and a Lion dance performance by Mak Fai Kung Fu on Saturday, July 27.
The Emerald City is well represented on the world stage at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics — here are some Seattleites to watch.
This monthly underground film festival aims to connect artists with an audience in a way that doesn’t break the bank + fosters community.
Bumbershoot Gives Back hopes to tackle food insecurity in Western Washington by giving away 2,000 free tickets encouraging to locals who volunteer with local food banks.
Thirsty? We’ve rounded up a few local drink deals and imagined how we would sip our way through our perfect local beverage day in Seattle.
Focused on fostering a collaborative environment, Bloomberg Green Festival brings climate innovators, policymakers, artists, and more to Seattle Center for five days of interactive learning experiences.
From Bellevue to Bainbridge, we’re giving you all the pertinent details about some of the districts in and around Seattle.
The Graham Street Light Rail Station Project would create a new stop between stations along the 1 Line’s current track.