Inter Island Airways: taking you from American Samoa
American Samoa is pretty remote but people have to travel from there to Samoa often so there is airlines that are there to help you. Currently, there is Polynesia Airlines and Inter Island Airways. There is also talks of Samoa Air trying to revive their company.
In my opinion, Inter Island Airways is the best of them and it is only one that is owned by American Samoans and this, governed by the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington DC. For the traveler, it means the planes are checked according to US regulations which makes sure it is airworthy. That is pretty important unless you are a sky diver or want to try and re-create Drop Zone with Wesley Snipes in the middle of the Pacific.
Another thing is they have the biggest planes on the American Samoa-Samoa route. It is no Boeing 747-800 by any means. However, it is about triple the size of the smaller eight seaters that Polynesia Airlines uses. I do not know about you but those little planes concern me, especially when I am not sure if they have served correctly.
One other thing to consider is the level of professionalism that the staff operate at. I found the people at Inter Island Airways to be much more on top of their tasks than at Polynesian Airlines. It is just an overall better ran airline.
How does Inter Island Airways work?
Well, on the American Samoan side, it is just like checking in at any US airport. The Tufuna International Airport is just alot smaller than Los Angeles or San Fransisco. However, the process is the same. You check your luggage, go through TSA screening and wait for the plane to come up for boarding.
One thing that is different is they will go through safety discussions in the terminal and not on the plane. One of the pilots will come up and talk to everyone in Samoan and then he will do it again in English to make sure everyone understands. It is just one of those things they have to do.
After that, you will walk out to the runway and you will board the plane from the back. It is a small door but you should not have problems getting in it. You find your seat, buckle up and wait, wait and wait. All the pre-flights checks have to done and re-done.
An hour later, you will arrive at the Faleolo International Airport in Apia, Samoa. You go through Immigration and Customs like you would for any International flights and walk out the door.
When I traveled with Inter Island Airways last, they had a van that take all the passengers to their office downtown for free. Otherwise, a bus would be about $2 (USD) and a taxi can be quite expensive. If looking for a bus, just walk up the hill to the highway and you should be able to get a bus without problems.
Travel on the airlines has been flawless for me the dozen or so times I had to do it.
What about prices?
This is where alot of people just do not understand (nor do I). The cost of such a short flight is very expensive. It is $80 for one way and about $150 for the round trip. If you are coming from South East Asia, you will find these prices to be really high. There is no Cebu Pacific Air or Air Asia in the South Pacific.
The good news about this you have no need to book in advance. If you book an hour before before or a month before, you will pay the full fare. The benefit of this is you can basically just pay at the airport and go. The bad thing is they have never have promotional or cheap seats. They are even known to raise the price between December. However, I believe the American Samoa Government has put a stop to that.
For more information, check out their website.