If you are flying into American Samoa, you will arrive at the Pago Pago International Airport in Tufuna. According to traffic controllers, it is known as PPG Airport. It is more accuately called Tafuna Airport because the airport is in the village of Tafuna, not Pago Pago which is by downtown American Samoa. It is 7 miles from Pago Pago village.
Like so many of the airports in the South Pacific, it was built in a rush to give American fighters and bombers places to take off from and land in the war in the Pacific against the Japanese. Pago Pago International was started before the war but was finished very quickly after the outbreak known as Pearl Harbor.
Three weeks after opening the airport, it was the host of a squadron of VMF-111 fighters. The primary role to protect the Navy as they came in from submarine attacks.
Who goes to American Samoa today?
The history is cool but you came for useful information, right? You need to know who goes to the airport and when they travel. The answer is simple: Hawaiian Airlines has a monopoly on the air route for the long haul. It will not change anytime in the future.
- Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Pago Pago on Mondays
- Polynesian Airlines from Fagali’i Airport (Samoa) to Pago Pago daily
- Inter Island Airways from Pago Pago to Faleolo (Samoa) daily
- Samoa Air* to Fagali’i (Samoa) daily.
- Weekly Cargo flight from the US Postal Service on Thursday evening.
If you are traveling from Samoa or to Samoa; the connections are on small planes that makes 4-5 trips a day. Between the two airlines, you have about 10 options to travel with. There are no special or promotions so you can plan for $160 round trip.
The important thing to know about travel to Samoa is on the other side. Polynesian Airlines lands at Fagali’i Airport that is just outside of Apia. Inter Islands Airways uses the international airport at Faleolo that is 30 kilometers from the town.
*Samoa Air is currently looking for new aircraft and dealing with governmental problems.
The Hawaiian trip to Pago Pago International Airport
If you are traveling to American Samoa from anywhere beside the South Pacific (and Australia or New Zealand); you will probably be forced to pay the over priced ticket using Hawaiian Airlines. It goes on Mondays afternoon from Honolulu and returns later that night.
Prices are currently $589 one way and $1,027 round trip from Hawaii. According to Cheap-O-Air, a flight to Los Angeles (same distance) round trip is $483. The largest concern for traveling to American Samoa for most is the cost of the airfare.
According to the website of Hawaiian Airlines, they leave at 4:45pm out of Honolulu and arrive at Pago Pago International Airport at 9:30pm. The flight is 5 hours and 45 minutes. The return flight is 11:25pm and arrives the next morning back in Hawaii.
What about Ofu and Tau Airports in Manu’a?
The current situation with flights to Ofu and Tau is a moving target so you would have to contact Inter Island Airways as they are the only air service to the airports. They seem to only service them when they have the extra time, aircraft and pilots.
If you are going to the Manua Islands, I would suggest checking out the ferry downtown in Pago Pago. It goes about once a week.
What about the terminal itself?
It is a pretty small airport even though it is classified as an international hub. It reminds me of a regional airport in the Philippines. There is no jet bridge at the airport. it is the old walk down the stairs way in American Samoa. The waiting room is modern and air conditioned.
However, US Congress currently has before it a plan to upgrade the Pago Pago International Airport that would include a jet bridge and completely new control tower.
It is also worth noting that American citizens are on US soil and they can remain in American Samoa as long as they wish. Citizens from a dozen other countries on the US Waiver program can come as they wish as well.