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34Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Case Study 4: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Current Processes This section maps the three current general passenger and baggage flows at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). International Arrivals/Terminating Passengers All international arrival passengers, excluding those arriving on precleared flights, proceed through the FIS facility located in the South Satellite terminal. After passengers claim their bags and exit the FIS area, they must drop their bags for separate transport to the Main Terminal. Passengers must be rescreened before boarding the secure airside people mover that transports them to the Main Terminal. Bags are moved via a conveyor to the Main Terminal baggage claim to be retrieved by passengers. Figure 14 depicts these flows. International-to-Domestic and International-to-International Passengers Connecting passengers, whether international-to-domestic or international-to-international, must currently recheck their bags after exiting the FIS area. Passengers are screened in the South Satellite before proceeding by secure airside people mover to the Main Terminal or up to the departures level of the South Satellite. After baggage screening, the luggage waits at the bag make-up area to be picked up by airline baggage handlers to be loaded onto aircraft either at the Main Terminal or at the South Satellite. Figure 15 depicts these flows. Preclearance Connection Checked baggage for flights arriving at SEA from Preclearance airports in Canada does not need to be retrieved and does not come in contact with passengers. Passengers arrive and deplane directly into the departures area of the terminal, but TSA still requires that all checked bags from these flights be rescreened before being loaded onto the subsequent connecting flight. Bags are unloaded from arriving aircraft and then fed to an induct conveyor for Preclearance connec- tions at the Main Terminal; bags then proceed through TSA bag screening and are sorted to the appropriate connecting domestic or international flight. Preferential Connections on Airline Alliances SEA is a hub airport for Delta and Alaska/Horizon Air. Numerous international-to-international and international-to-domestic connections take place between these airlines. Preferential treat- ment of passenger and baggage flows by airline, however, is not currently in place at the airport. Relevance of Reducing Baggage Recheck While representatives of the airline, CBP, and the airport were consulted at SEA, Port Seattle (airport) was the only local representative that engaged in an in-depth discussion regarding the reduction of baggage recheck for international-to-international connections. Airport The discussions centered on the operational requirements, cost, timing, and benefits of reduc- ing baggage recheck. While a number of minor operational adjustments would be required to implement a near-term international-to-international bag transfer program for a specific set of flights, the costs are relatively low and the benefits are significant. Some of the benefits cited include alleviating congestion in the baggage claim carousel area while also freeing up capacity on the carousel, acting as a potential step to eliminate need for bags in the FIS area for destina- tion passengers, helping improve minimum connection times, and reducing bag handling and potential issues.
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Airport Case Studies 35 Figure 14. SEA terminating passenger and bag flow.
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36 Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Figure 15. SEA connecting passenger and bag flow.