The Major Airlines -- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (tel. 206/433-5388; www.portseattle.org/seatac), commonly called "Sea-Tac," is served by about 30 airlines, including:
Air Canada -- tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air -- tel. 800/252-7522; www.alaskaair.com
American Airlines -- tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com
America West Airlines -- tel. 800/235-9292; www.usairways.com
British Airways -- tel. 800/247-9297; www.britishairways.com
Continental -- tel. 800/523-3273; www.continental.com
Delta -- tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com
Frontier -- tel. 800/432-1359; www.flyfrontier.com
JetBlue Airways -- tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com
Northwest/KLM -- tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com
Southwest -- tel. 800/435-9792; www.southwest.com
United -- tel. 800/864-8331; www.ual.com
US Airways -- tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com
International carriers that fly from Europe to Los Angeles and/or San Francisco (from where you can continue to Seattle on a domestic carrier) include Aer Lingus (tel. 0818/365-000 in Ireland; www.aerlingus.com) and British Airways (tel. 0870/850-9850; www.britishairways.com). The latter also flies direct to Seattle from London.
From New Zealand and Australia, there are flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles on Qantas (tel. 13-13-13 in Australia; www.qantas.com.au) and Air New Zealand (tel. 0800/737-000 in New Zealand; www.airnewzealand.co.nz). From Los Angeles, you can continue on to Seattle on a regional domestic carrier.
Kenmore Air (tel. 866/435-9524 or 425/486-1257; www.kenmoreair.com) offers seaplane service between Seattle and the San Juan Islands and Victoria, British Columbia. Its Seattle terminals are at the south end of Lake Union and at the north end of Lake Washington.
Immigration & Customs Clearance -- Foreign visitors arriving by air, no matter what the port of entry, should cultivate patience and resignation before setting foot on U.S. soil. U.S. airports have considerably beefed up security clearances in the years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and clearing Customs and Immigration can take as long as 2 hours.
People traveling by air from Canada, Bermuda, and certain Caribbean countries can sometimes clear Customs and Immigration at the point of departure, which is much faster.
Seattle is 110 miles from Vancouver, British Columbia, 175 miles from Portland, 810 miles from San Francisco, 1,190 miles from Los Angeles, and 285 miles from Spokane.
I-5 is the main north-south artery through Washington, running south to Portland and north to the Canadian border. I-405 is Seattle's east-side bypass and accesses the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland on the east side of Lake Washington. I-90 connects Seattle to Spokane in eastern Washington. Wash. 520 connects I-405 with Seattle just north of downtown and also ends at I-5. Wash. 99, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, is a major north-south highway that passes right through the Seattle waterfront.
All the major car-rental agencies have offices in Seattle and at or near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, including:
Advantage (tel. 800/777-5500 or 206/824-0161; www.arac.com)
Alamo (tel. 800/462-5266 or 206/433-0182; www.goalamo.com)
Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 or 206/433-5232; www.avis.com)
Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 or 206/444-7510; www.budget.com)
Dollar (tel. 800/800-4000 or 206/433-5825; www.dollar.com)
Enterprise (tel. 800/261-7331 or 206/246-1953; www.enterprise.com)
Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131 or 206/248-1300; www.hertz.com)
National (tel. 800/227-7368 or 206/433-5501; www.nationalcar.com)
Thrifty (tel. 800/847-4389 or 877/283-0898; www.thrifty.com)
Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) service runs from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle and from Portland and as far south as Eugene, Ore., on the Cascades (a high-speed, European-style Talgo train). The train takes about 4 hours from Vancouver to Seattle and 3 1/2 to 4 hours from Portland to Seattle. One-way fares from Vancouver to Seattle or from Portland to Seattle are usually between $28 and $37. Booking earlier will get you a less-expensive ticket.
There is also Amtrak service to Seattle from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland on the Coast Starlight, and from Spokane and points east on the Empire Builder. Amtrak also operates a bus between Vancouver and Seattle, so be careful when making a reservation as you might be on a bus, rather than a train.
Like the airlines, Amtrak offers several discounted fares; although they're not all based on advance purchase, you'll have more discount options by reserving early. The discount fares can be used only on certain days and during certain hours; be sure to find out exactly what restrictions apply. Tickets for children 2 to 15 cost half the price of a regular coach fare when the children are accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
Also inquire about money-saving packages that include hotel accommodations, car rentals, tours, and so on with your train fare.
If you're traveling between Victoria, British Columbia, and Seattle, ferries from Victoria Clipper, Pier 69, 2701 Alaskan Way (tel. 800/888-2535, 206/448-5000, or 250/382-8100 in Victoria; www.victoriaclipper.com), make the 2- or 3-hour trip year-round. Prices range from $79 to $140 round-trip for adults (the lower fare is for advance-purchase tickets). Some scheduled trips also stop in the San Juan Islands.
Bellingham, north of Seattle, is the port for Alaska ferries.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.