Airport Check-in: In translation, on arrival

SEATTLE — With international arrival traffic up 16% from 2007, Seattle-Tacoma has seen increasing demand for its phone translation service.

The airport’s translation phones — equipped with two receivers for three-way conversation — are installed at all 22 immigration booths, plus in the main terminal and baggage-claim areas. California-based Language Line Services, which employs 3,000 translators for 170 languages, runs the service.

Immigration officials who interview arriving passengers use the service most frequently, says Sue Hansen-Smith, Sea-Tac’s customer service manager. “I don’t know what we’d do without it. It’d really slow down the (immigration clearing) process.”

Korean is the most common language requested at the airport, followed by Mandarin, Khmer (Cambodian) and Vietnamese.


For more information about Korean, Mandarin, Khmer (Cambodian), and Vietnamese translation, visit 1-Stop Translation’s website at or email us at



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