Airports step in to provide security line wait time info

Wouldn’t it be nice to know which airport security checkpoints have the longest and shortest waits?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provided that information?

Not happening, save for its smartphone app that depends on passengers randomly “crowdsourcing’’ this information.

So airports are taking the lead. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Dulles International at Washington, D.C., have automated systems in place to provide up-to-the-minute wait time information on their websites for all checkpoints.

After the TSA canceled plans for installing a system at Sea-Tac Airport, Port of Seattle commissioners are considering moving ahead with a $3.6 million project to install wait-time sensors and 24 electronic displays in the airport’s main terminal, as well as provide wait times on its website.

The only hitch: Installing the system will involve ... you guessed it ... a wait.

Estimates call for construction to begin in September 2014 next year and be completed two months later, by November 2014.

More summer news for fliers in this week's Travel Wise column for the Seattle Times:

New at the “N” gates

Now’s the time to speak up if there’s something new you’d like to see at Sea-Tac’s North Satellite (N gates), scheduled for renovation for Alaska Airlines.

“Expanding concessions will all be part of the upcoming design,’’ says airport spokesman Perry Cooper. Most of the current shops and restaurants will likely stay, but “there will be some new opportunities,” Cooper says, “some kiosks and potentially new store locations.’’

Let’s hope so. It seems we could do better than burger and bagel chains and a smallish Starbucks with consistently long lines.

Have some ideas? Send an e-mail to

London calling

London-bound travelers, especially members of Alaska Airlines’ mileage plan, will be the winners as Delta Air Lines moves ahead with plans to begin nonstop service between London’s Heathrow and Seattle next March 29.

The new Seattle-Heathrow service will end British Airways’ monopoly on the nonstop route. In a countermove, British will boost its flights from seven to 10 per week, starting Oct. 27.

If you sense a bit of déjà vu here, you’re not mistaken.

The former Northwest Airlines, now part of Delta, introduced its Seattle-London service in June of 2008, then ended it six months later.

The route performed poorly, Delta noted in its U.S. Department of Transportation filing, partly because British countered by adding more flights, and also because Northwest had a weak sales presence in London.

“Today, Delta operates a significant array of international flights from Seattle, including flights to Paris and Amsterdam,’’ Delta said in its filing.

“By joining forces with Virgin Atlantic and capitalizing on its marketing strength in London and the U.K., Delta and Virgin Atlantic believe this new service would be viable.’’ (Delta still awaits an OK from the Department of Transportation for a deal calling for it to buy a 49 percent stake in U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic Airways. But with approval from the U.S. Justice Department and the European Commission already in the bag, it’s begun selling tickets for the Seattle-London service next March.)

Alaska Airlines is a mileage partner with both British and Delta, so frequent fliers can choose to redeem or earn miles on either.

Hotels filling up

Seattle hotel prices are rising along with demand.

The demand for hotel rooms in the Seattle area rose 2.5 percent in the first six months of 2013 compared with last year, according to Smith Travel Research. Meanwhile, the supply of available rooms was basically unchanged.

No surprise then that average daily rates rose 4 percent to $121 for the six months, and 6.6 percent to $134 in June, when average occupancy was 86 percent.

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