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How to get pizza to a plane full of stranded passengers

Pizza is handed out to passengers aboard the flight. (Logan Marie Torres/AP)
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Here is a story that involves a detoured flight, passengers stuck on a plane and a pilot making a heroic call to Domino’s Pizza.

On Monday night, a Frontier Airlines plane heading from Washington to Denver wound up diverted to Wyoming for a few hours. Flight 719 left National Airport at 6:40 p.m. heading to Colorado, but it was forced to land in Cheyenne, Wyo., because of extreme weather in Denver, according to the airline.

As a result, 157 passengers were stuck sitting on the ground for a little more than two hours. Anyone who has been on a grounded or delayed flight knows that the mounting sense of claustrophobia is often accompanied by concerns about hunger, as people get further and further from their last meal.

Food on the plane ran out quickly, a Frontier official said, so the pilot had to act. He decided to order pizzas — 30 pizzas that were delivered in about 30 minutes by a Domino’s in Cheyenne, the airline said.

“Yes, the pilot did buy pizza for the passengers,” a Frontier spokesman said in an e-mail. “It is important to note that this isn’t the first time one of our pilots has gone above and beyond to provide care for our customers.”

The pilot paid for the pizzas on his own and did not ask the airline for any reimbursement, the spokesman said.

This is the type of feel-kind-of-good story that offers a tidy beginning, middle and end, perfect for a mild viral sensation lasting for a few hours on a quiet day. Something happens, someone does something nice or thoughtful, the end. But it raised one particular question for me: How did the pizzas get to the plane in Cheyenne? Did the delivery person go through the security line? Did they take off their shoes? Did the pizza go through the full body scan machine?

The answer is a little simpler, as it turns out: Airport management inspected the pizzas, the Frontier spokesman said. Once they were cleared, management brought them to the plane in an official airport vehicle. (This is in line with Transportation Security Administration and airport security policies, Frontier said.)

Once the pizzas arrived, passengers began cheering, clapping and taking pictures. The travelers and the pizza boxes all arrived in Denver early Tuesday morning.