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Alaska Air pilot's detour gives passengers stunning view of Mt. Rainier

Photo courtesy: Tom Davis

SEATTLE -- Normally being stuck in a holding pattern as your destination airport is fogged in isn't the best experience, but one Alaska Airlines pilot decided to make the most of it.

As Sea-Tac Airport experienced several delays due to thick fog Tuesday morning, Flight 401 inbound from Las Vegas was given a lengthy hold time and asked to spin around Lewis County in a holding pattern until a landing slot opened, according to Alaska spokesperson Ray Lane.

Not content to just sit there and drive in circles, the pilot asked for and received permission from air traffic controllers to take a small detour while they were waiting and go for a spin around nearby Mt. Rainier, offering a spectacular view of the sun-bathed mountain towering above the fog layer below as stunned and excited passengers looked on.

"We were about 3,000 feet above the peak of Rainier," said Tom Davis, who posted the gorgeous photo above on Reddit. "Everybody started conveyor-belting their phones to the window folks to get pictures as we flew by."

Davis was in the aisle seat, but wanted to thank Jennifer who was sitting in the window seat for helping get the memorable shot on his phone.

"(Jennifer) was conveyor-belting phones while we were using the flight safety card to reduce some of the light beaming in," Davis said. "Our row tag-teamed really well, especially to help the folks on the left side (of the plane). Took each phone, put it on burst settings and moved on. The rest was up to the quality of the phone and, honestly, a little bit of luck."

And lucky they were....

"I don't think I'll ever see the mountain from that vantage point again," Davis said. "It was beautiful."

The pilot returned back to the Lewis County holding pattern and had to do two more circles until their landing spot opened up and they landed about 15 minutes later.

"(It) was fun," Davis said. "First time I've seen passengers not livid over a delay."

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