The second in our series exploring the “Scents of Clean”

by Heather Lane

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, people are still on the move. This means transportation businesses must be nimble and proactive in finding ways to reassure travelers that their journey will be safe.

Some industry leaders, like Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), are taking an innovative approach, alleviating the uncertainty in the air by tapping into our sense of smell. Located only miles from where the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the U.S., SEA recently shared how they diffuse scents to create a reassuring sense of clean for their travelers.

A Little Bit About SEA

Formerly known as Sea-Tac, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recently underwent a sweeping rebrand and emerged as ‘SEA,’ with an enhanced focus on being helpful, efficient, original, natural, and encouraging discovery.

SEA is now the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and has ranked in J.D. Power’s top 20 airports in the in the country since 2017.  A lot of that success is attributed to SEA’s emphasis on improving the traveler experience.

In a 2020 article published in Tacoma, WA’s local paper, The News Tribune, Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, said that traveler experience at the airport is a stand-out success for SEA.

“At the end of the day, what’s most important about the airport experience is how quickly and safely one gets to the airport, through the airport and out of the airport,” Kendall said. “That’s the real proof in the whole branding and customer service effort.

“It’s encouraging to see them take the customer service experience as the core of what they’re trying to do.”

Whether it’s their self-driving cleaning machines, UV lighting technology, or ambient scent, SEA has doubled down on innovative ways to not only stay clean but feel clean as well.

The Scent Journey Takes Flight

Scent can help reassure their travelers that airport upholds the highest standards of clean, even in the most bustling areas.

According to Valentine Smith, C.M Manager, Custodial Services at Port of Seattle:

“Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers. This includes a deep emphasis on cleanliness to protect the health of those working and traveling during the pandemic. Ambient scent can positively impact the traveler experience, which is why we diffuse refreshing scents in our high traffic areas.”

SEA Makes Waves

SEA found the ideal solution for their busiest restrooms and pet relief areas in 2017: Prolitec’s GENIE diffusion system, using the scent “Tidal Wave.”  The technology incorporates proprietary molecules that target malodors and odor-causing bacteria.

For those that have never had the opportunity to experience the subtle scents SEA offers, it can be described in one word – crisp.

“Tidal Wave” creates the crisp feel with a lively fusion of zesty orange and bright greens, sprinkled with subtle hints of white flowers and lily of the valley. For the trained noses out there, one might catch the soft notes of sandalwood and musk that add dimension and richness to the experience.

Setting an Example for the Industry

As the pandemic continues to be a part of our everyday lives, the transportation industry is working to make travelers feel safe and comfortable. City public transportation stations, national railroad systems, and of course, airports, are turning to scent to help create a sense of wellness and a reassuring sense of clean for travelers.

As SEA’s Valentine Smith sums it up:

“Focusing on cleanliness and creating pleasantly scented areas is part of how we create an elevated passenger experience here at SEA.”



Cited Sources:

Cockrell, D. (2020, January 23). Puget Sound region’s main airport to go by SEA from now on. No slight to Tacoma, officials say. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

Lyttle, L. (2020, May 21). Centerlines Spring/Summer 2020. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

Swift. (2019, July 16). Sea-Tac Airport: Then and Now. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from



About the Author

Heather enjoys delving into research exploring the ways fragrance impacts people in their daily lives. She is a VP at Prolitec, a global provider of ambient scenting, and a recent graduate of the MBA program at Tulane University in New Orleans.

When not studying the fascinating ways fragrance intersects the world of business, Heather renovates historic houses and gets her hands dirty with her non-profit ceramics arts studio.