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Three-hour tarmac ordeal turns into pizza party

March 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM ET

Video: Passengers stuck on a plane grounded in Tennessee for several hours due to weather conditions were the recipients of a surprise pick-me-up: Pizza Hut pizzas delivered to the plane with a police escort. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

After severe weather forced an Atlanta-bound Delta flight to divert to Knoxville, Tenn., on Monday night, the ensuing three-hour tarmac wait turned into a pizza party when airport employees arranged for pies to be delivered to the waiting passengers, escorted by a police car.

Flight attendants passed out the pizza to the passengers temporarily turning them into "Pizza Hut delivery people," said passenger Jen Vazmina. There was enough for everyone on the flight, with the choices of cheese, pepperoni or sausage.

Delta attendants pass out pizza
Jen Vazmina
Delta flight attendants passed out surprise delivered pizza Monday night to passengers who had been waiting for three hours on the tarmac in Knoxville.

"Of course we were all upset, but everyone was pretty accepting," Vazmina said of the delay. "The pilot kept the mood light and the flight attendants busted their butts to keep us hydrated."

Everyone appeared happy after the pizza feed -- "but they just wouldn't serve us beer," said Vazmina."And yes we asked a bunch of times."

Monday night, the Delta flight departed Boston night bound for Atlanta and was forced to divert to Knoxville, Tenn., because of severe storms at its intended destination, airline spokesperson Morgan Durrant said. That night, two tornadoes hit in outlying areas of Georgia, causing property damage.

Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations enacted in 2010 require airlines to allow passengers to leave a plane after a three-hour tarmac delay, and to provide food and water after two hours.

Durrant confirmed passengers were provided with "an egress opportunity." The captain told passengers that those who were talking about leaving the plane and driving from the Knoxville airport could do so, said Vazmina, "but no one left or for that matter cared anymore."

DOT rules do not require airlines to deliver pizzas, but, "it's a nice thing we can do for our customers," said Durrant. "And it's something we've been doing in these situations."

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