I travel internationally to visit my parents annually. Traveling is mostly exciting but can be very stressful at the same time. Delays are common, long lines are more common, and lines are especially longer when you are late.
So, here are the latest tips for travelers between SEATTLE/TACOMA international airport and Japan. (as of OCT 2023)
1. SEA SPOT SAVER
Seatac airport offers a FREE reservation-based security checkpoint program.
Instead of lined up behind 200 people at 6am and stressing that you might miss your flight, you just go onto their free website and secure a spot.
When I went, I got into the same line as Premier and First Class travelers. Line was less than 10 people, while the normal line easily had more than 200 people.
As of October 2023, there is so little user that you could reserve a spot once you are at the airport and you would get in just fine.
I, a more conservative traveler, would like to save a spot well ahead of time.
There are 3 Spot Saver gate you can go to. Before you make a reservation, check and see which gate is most convenient for you in this map.
- You can show up 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late to your appointment.
- Consider ticketing and baggage check time that takes at the airport. (Security checkpoint is AFTER ticketing and baggage check in)
- You still have to go through normal security check. Spot Saver gets you through the line faster.
2. Visit Japan – easier immigration and customs process
Via a website by Japanese Government, (NO APP) You will need passport and ticket information to process. It require to create a log in. It’s FREE
*****WARNING**** There is a similar looking fake website, so be sure to go to the correct website. The official website doesn’t ask for any payment information.
address should read:
- Once all is done, you get a QR code. Screenshot that QR code. Email the image to yourself just in case.
- You just need 1 registration per household. (you need to add everyone under the one account)
3. MPC App for US re-entry
It’s called Mobile Passport Control App, and it’s by US Customs and Border Protection. It’s FREE
I got in a huge line following a staff directing “US, Canada, and Greencard” to a same line.
There were probably 200+ people.
Then I heard “MPC, this way!”
No one responded, so I got the officer’s attention and asked if he was talking about the app by showing him what I had. He said, yes, and me and only one other person from the giant line followed him. I was immediately seen by an officer through a line no one was in.
Download the app on your phone, and you can start your registration process anytime.
What you must do is that you submit the info ONLY after you arrive at the US airport where you are going to enter into the US, becaus the submission is only good for a little bit of time.
- Only for U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and Canadian B1/B2 citizens visitors
- Not yet available at all ports. Check Learn More button below to find out which airport accepts MPC
- Allow the app to take photos
- Submit ONLY once you arrive at the US-entry port. I did this in the airplane while waiting for my turn to leave my seat.
- Make sure to remove facial covering when taking a selfie when prompted
- If your passport picture doesn’t have glasses on your face but you are wearing a pair, remove glasses before snapping a photo
Managing stress and Anxiety
I do the following to help me.
- A overnight hotel stay by the airport (I make sure I get to the airport the night before for an early AM flight) International flights are often one flight a day. You don’t want to miss your plane.
- pack light homemade meals (onigiri and pickles, instant miso soup, and green tea bag are my go-to travel bento menu) – unfamiliar meal/food might throw off my motion-sickness prone body. I eat light and what’s familiar.
- bath at night – just in case I oversleep and or there is a hot water issue in the morning, I get this out of the way.
- 3-point Quick check – Wallet (cash and a couple of cards), Passport, Ticket. I am forgetful, so I stress about packing. I tell myself that even if I forget everything else, I will make it if I had these 3 items. You might want to add medication to the list if applicable. I probably add my phone and a charger, too. (make it a 5-point check)
Wish you a safe and fun travel!