By Nancy Trejos
Airlines are notorious for being stingy when it comes to food for passengers flying in economy class.
But on Monday, passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight from Boston to Atlanta got a special treat: a free pizza delivery.
Granted, they were waiting for hours on a tarmac when their plane was diverted to Knoxville because of tornado warnings in Atlanta.
Ryan Wood, a passenger, told WRCV TV that the plane circled for a while before landing in Knoxville because it was low on fuel.
He then looked out the window and was surprised to see a police car pulling up.
"And, I see a cop car pull up and I'm like, 'this is going to be good, what's going on here?' Then I see a cop get out and a couple guys helping him with about 30 pizzas out of the back seat and I'm like, 'oh alright we got some pizza... we're going to have a little pizza party on the plane,'" he told the station.
There were actually 60 pizza pies.
Michele Carson-Vaughn, Delta's director of field services for the Southeast, told WXIA-TV that it was the Atlanta-based airline's Knoxville station manager who ordered the pizzas after the plane had been stranded for three hours, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV.
"He called the pizza place and said I need 60 pizzas as soon as possible and brought them in," Carson-Vaughn told the station. The manager's name was not disclosed.
She told the station that Delta worked with the Transportation Security Administration to get security clearance for the pizza deliveries.
Delta spokesman Michael Thomas told Today in the sky that station managers in both Atlanta and Knoxville were involved in the decision.
WXIA reports that Delta also ordered pizzas for passengers stranded in Savannah waiting for the weather to clear in Atlanta. That time, Delta ordered 160 pizzas.
Federal rules require airlines to let passengers get off a plane after being on a tarmac for three hours. After two hours, airlines must give passengers water and snacks. That can mean a bag of pretzels.
"Of course we were all upset, but everyone was pretty accepting," passenger Jen Vazmina told NBCnews.com about the delay. "The pilot kept the mood light and the flight attendants busted their butts to keep us hydrated."
The captain told passengers that they could get off the plane, said Vazmina, "but no one left or for that matter cared anymore."
Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told NBC that the pizza delivery is "a nice thing we can do for our customers. And it's something we've been doing in these situations."
Thomas told Today in the Sky: "Delta can't control the weather, but we can control how we respond to weather delays and irregular operations. In situations like these, Delta people have the decision-making power to take care of our customers - even having pizza delivered plane-side."