The flight attendant lost 2 teeth in the bloody assault, alongside other facial injuries.
A California woman is now facing felony charges after physically attacking a Southwest flight attendant. The incident reportedly occurred in May, when 28 years old Vyvianna Quinonez repeatedly punched one of the flight attendants after being asked to follow standard flight protocols during landing.
According to prosecutors, Vyvianna pulled down the tray table and unbuckled her seat belt while landing at San Diego International airport on Sunday, May 23. When she was requested to follow the standard instructions and wear the face mask, Vyvianna became defiant and involved in a bloodied altercation with the flight attendant. She pushed the attendant, grabbed and pulled her hair while repeatedly punching her face, mentioned a filed federal complaint.
Watch the video here:
JUST IN: The woman who punched a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in May has been officially charged in federal court with two felonies, including assault and interfering with a flight crew. Vyvianna Quinonez now faces at least 20 years in prison. pic.twitter.com/ghUWkBTGMm— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) September 2, 2021
Vyvianna was taken into custody by the authorities in the airport immediately, while paramedics took the attendant to the hospital. Her left eye was bruised and swollen, and a cut under her eye needed four stitches. She also suffered a finger-shaped bruise on her right forearm.
"We are asking our carrier, the government and the flying public's help in ending this epidemic of aggression and assault. Flight attendants are first responders in the sky who are focused on safety. As people return to the skies, we are asking for everyone's help in complying with flight attendant requests to help ensure a safe and fun atmosphere for all," Union President Lyn Montgomery said in a statement. "This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature," she wrote in an open letter to Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Gary Kelly.
"Across the board nationwide, it is a problem for every airline and every flight attendant right now," Montgomery also said in an interview.
Vyvianna Quinonez is now charged with two federal felonies: assault resulting in severe injury and interference with a flight's crew members and attendants. The first charge can sentence up to 10 years in prison, while the second charge may result in 20 years. She has been banned by Southwest carrier and summoned to court on Sep 17.
However, this is not an isolated incident of unruly behavior of flight passengers. This year, the Federal Aviation Administration has received more than 3,000 reports of unruly passengers, mainly related to refusal to comply with mask mandates. The Southwest flights alone have faced 477 incidents of passenger misconduct only between April 8 and May 15, according to the carrier's flight attendant union.
"We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our flight crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers," said a Southwest spokesperson. As per President Montgomery, she has requested the presence of federal marshalls in flights and to ban any unruly passengers completely instead of allowing them to board the next flight.
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