Air Canada pilot orders 23 pizzas to Halifax-bound plane stranded on tarmac

Passengers on a delayed Air Canada flight are praising their captain to the skies after he went out of his way to keep them informed - and even ordered pizza directly to their plane stuck on the tarmac.

Plane diverted to Fredericton after it couldn't land during poor weather in Halifax

An Oromocto, N.B., restaurant delivered 23 large pepperoni pizzas to passengers stranded on an Air Canada flight at the Fredericton airport. The pilot picked up the bill. (Shutterstock/Bill Karsten/Twitter)

Passengers on a delayed Air Canada flight are praising their captain to the skies after he went out of his way to keep them informed — and even ordered pizza directly to their plane stuck on the tarmac.

Air Canada Flight 608 left Toronto on Monday afternoon bound for Halifax. It circled the Halifax airport Monday evening but was unable to land due to poor weather. The airport temporarily shut down its runways after another plane slid while taxiing and couldn't make it to the gate.

The Airbus A320 diverted to Fredericton, where its passengers ended up sitting on the tarmac for some time because other aircraft had also landed there and the airport was busy.

That's when staff at Minglers Restaurant and Pub in Oromocto received a call directly from the cockpit of the airplane. 

"We do a catering business here too, so we're used to unusual numbers, but I mean on a storm night? For a plane? No," said owner Roch Larivée.

Larivée said when the call came in the snowstorm that hit the region Monday was winding down, and there were only three staff members working in the kitchen at Minglers. But they quickly prepared 23 large cheese and pepperoni pizzas and sent them to the airport.

"I hope everybody enjoyed their pizzas," Larivée said Tuesday.

Passengers were on the Airbus A320 plane for roughly eight hours without any food service after boarding in Toronto. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Back on the plane the hot pizza was very welcome, said passenger Philomena Hughes, who was travelling back home to Halifax after visiting her parents in Ontario.

Hughes estimates people were in the plane for roughly eight hours after boarding in Toronto. She credits the pilot for keeping them informed as well as fed. The plane had a capacity of more than 150 passengers, but it was not a flight that included any meal.

"It was something that could have been very stressful; he made it a lot easier," she said. 

"They looked like they appreciated the pizza … they were pretty calm and pretty cheery," she said. "It makes such a difference when you know what's going on."

Passenger Bill Karsten, who is a municipal councillor in Halifax, tweeted a picture of the pizza arriving. Karsten said the flight had been delayed even before leaving Toronto but the captain went out of his way to explain to each of the passengers what was happening. 

"He walked entirely down the length of the plane just to make sure we knew what was going on and whatnot, before departing to Halifax. So I think the mood was set, in reality, by the great work of the captain," Karsten said.

Hughes said even after the flight was over the captain checked in with the passengers, but was quick to give credit to the rest of the flight crew as well.

"He wanted everyone to know that it was the whole crew, that he couldn't have done it without the crew. There was lots of help, there were a couple of Air Canada Jazz pilots that were travelling on the plane and they were helping to pick up the pizza and distribute it. Everybody chipped in, so he didn't want to take the whole credit for himself," she said.

Passengers on the flight were scheduled to fly from Fredericton to Halifax Tuesday afternoon.

This is not the first time airline employees have used pizza to express goodwill. In 2017, a WestJet pilot bought pizza for stranded airline passengers, and during the U.S. government shutdown earlier this year Canadian air traffic controllers sent pizza to their American counterparts

About the Author

Shaina Luck

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Shaina Luck covers everything from court to city council. Her favourite stories are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca

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