Samoa - I Didn't Do It!


I've been in Samoa three times and each time, I didn't leave the airport.  I have a couple of photos and stories from the hours I spent in the terminal either flying to or heading home from Tonga during my Peace Corps service, but instead, this photo and this story is about something I didn't do.

I haven't told many people this story because,  I'm embarrassed that I almost did do it.  

The basic idea of Peace Corps is to live with and in a manner similar to the people of the country where you are volunteering.   I was completely prepared to do that when I was packing to begin spending two years in Tonga.   

And as you would expect, I also was thinking about the airplane ride.  At 6'3" tall, I always look for seats with lots of leg room, especially for long flights.   

When I left my job in 2007 to volunteer with Peace Corps, I often traveled for business and I had "elite" status with US Airways.  That meant that I often got upgraded to either First or Business class when I flew.  It was a perk I really enjoyed.  

So one night, a few days before I left, I called Air New Zealand, which was a partner with US Airways.  I asked them if it would be possible to get an upgrade on my flight to Tonga.   I reasoned that I would be much more comfortable if I could sleep on the overnight flight and be fresh when I arrived.

The agent said:
Yes, Mr. Hunsicker, we can upgrade you?  Would you like a window or aisle seat?

I said I would take an aisle seat and was about to hang up when she said:

I see you are traveling in a group of 33 people, is there anyone else you would like to upgrade with you? 

At that moment, it hit me.  What was I doing?   I was going to be a Peace Corps volunteer with 32 other people.  Did I want to be known as "the guy" who flew in business class to Samoa and then on to Tonga? 

At that moment, I made the "right" decision and told a very surprised Air New Zealand representative, I didn't want to take the free upgrade.   I'm guessing they don't hear that very often.

Instead, I asked if I could have a seat in coach with lots of leg room.   She put me in a bulk head row in the front of the coach cabin.  I didn't think much else about it until we got to Samoa.   It turns out that the other 32 volunteers in my group were all sitting together.   They had spent the trip enjoying the free drinks and getting to know each other.   

I regretted making the move even to an exit row seat but didn't tell anyone that it had been my decision.   And I certainly didn't tell anyone that I COULD have been in the front of the plane.

We were in Samoa for several hours while they cleaned and refueled the plane.  I was able to start getting to know everyone in the airport before I headed back to my bulk head seat in coach.

The Air New Zealand plane on the runway in Samoa getting ready to leave for Tonga

We arrived in Tonga and I kept my secret of what I didn't do until now.


While waiting in the Samoa airport on that first visit, I did write a blog post.  I've linked it below.

Dates of Travel

  • October, 2007
  • December, 2008
  • January, 2008

Places Visited

  • Apia (Airport)



This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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