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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Airline gives shoppers a break

By Debbie Sokei
Advertiser Staff Writer

Laulii Alofa arrived from American Samoa last week with one carryon bag and returned yesterday lugging five bulging bags with $3,000 worth of name-brand T-shirts, tennis shoes and candies.

Laulii and Wanda Alofa and their daughter, Aitulagi, 2, got a happy surprise on their trip home to American Samoa yesterday. Aloha Airlines has doubled the baggage allowance on some Pacific Island flights from 70 to 140 pounds.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

"You'll never get the good quality (in American Samoa) like you do here," Alofa said.

Alofa, like many visitors from the Marshall Islands, American Samoa and the Cook Islands, took advantage of the low prices and wider selection at O'ahu stores.

Starting today, Aloha Airlines will help accommodate them.

Aloha said yesterday that passengers flying to Pago Pago, Rarotonga, Majuro and Kwajalein may now take 140 pounds of luggage, up from the previous 70-pound limit, without being charged an excess-baggage fee.

"The new rules will allow passengers to take more baggage back since they come here to shop," said Stu Glauberman, spokesman for Aloha Airlines.

It's not uncommon for Pacific island residents who come to Hawai'i to visit family and friends or for medical care to also take advantage of the shopping opportunities.

"Mostly everything is cheaper here," said Anthony Tuitasi, who bought a baby walker for $15 that would cost $25 in American Samoa.

Tuitasi came to Hawai'i with his mother, who needed a medical checkup.

Tuitasi and his brother, Fusitele, left yesterday with three bags, a box containing the baby walker, and two carryons filled with baby clothes, shoes and macadamia nut candies.

Aloha flies twice a week between Hawai'i and Majuro, Kwajalein, Pago Pago and Rarotonga.

On those flights, the airline will allow each passenger to take 70 pounds without exception. The second 70 pounds will be based on available space.

Any baggage weighing more than 140 pounds will cost $25 per 35-pound bag. No bags heavier than 35 pounds will be allowed.

Alofa was given a free pass on his excess baggage yesterday by an Aloha manager who knew the rule change was only a day away.

"He's very happy," said Alofa's wife, Wanda, as the couple was waved through.

Reach Debbie Sokei at 525-8064 or dsokei@honoluluadvertiser.com.