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FLIGHT DELAYED: Comment Delays Flight Six Hours

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Passengers on one flight at the Des Moines Airport dealt with a lengthy delay Saturday, but it wasn't the weather or a mechanical problem that caused it.

It was a bad joke.

A joke about pilots and crew members doing some late night partying led to a six-hour delay for some travelers at the Des Moines Airport, Saturday morning.

U.S. Airways flight 2276 was supposed to depart for Charlotte at 7:00 a.m., but it was delayed because the crew got in late last night and needed the required rest.

When the crew arrived at around 9:00, a passenger made a joking comment about the crew being out partying too late last night.  Airline staff took the joke seriously.

Jim McClelland, a passenger, says he recorded this conversation between himself and the pilot on his I-Phone.

The pilot said, “The company is going to require us to get drug tested.  It`s one of these things where if someone makes a comment, makes an accusation...  God forbid something happened.”

He continued, “Everybody in the station is fairly insistent about it.  My thought is, `Come up here and smell my breath. If we have problems, (we`ll) get off.  Otherwise, we`re going.”

McClelland said, "You know, the drug test information didn't come until, you know, we were on there at least an hour and that's when I went up there and said, ‘hey we'd like some information in the back of the plane.’  Isn't that fair to say something?"

The seventy passengers were ordered off the plane while U.S. Airways conducted an internal investigation that included a drug test for the crew.

The airline says the pilots passed the test and the 7:00 a.m. flight took off six hours later.

Passengers say the airline should have let them off the plane sooner and should have fed them and arranged for different flights to make their connections.

Glenn Clark, a passenger from Waterloo said, “U.S. Air says it's not their fault.  It was something that was caused by the guy that made the comment, what did you do?  Did you party too much?”

U.S. Airways spokesperson, Tina Swail released a statement to Channel 13.  It reads, in part, "Any accusation of this sort is taken very seriously and out of an abundance of caution the crew was administered a drug test."

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