Woman charged in federal court accused of punching Southwest flight attendant

Federal Aviation Administration has received 4,000 reports of ‘unruly’ passenger behaviour in 2021

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 03 September 2021 02:15 BST
(Getty Images)

A woman who allegedly punched a flight attendant in the face causing her to lose two teeth has been charged in federal court.

Vyvianna Quinonez was arrested in May after being accused of attacking the Southwest Airlines employee on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego.

Now she has been charged with felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury and interference with flight crew members and attendants, according to court documents, and is due appear in court in San Diego later this month,

Court papers state that the female flight attendant, identified only as “SL”, initially asked Ms Quinonez to fasten her seatbelt, stow her tray table and wear her mask as she prepared the cabin for landing.

The suspect, who is from Sacramento, allegedly pushed the flight attendant in the initial fracas.

An affidavit in the case states she later got out of her seat, punched the victim in the face and head with her fist and grabbed her hair.

The filing says that several passengers came to the victim’s defence, with one standing between the women and ordering the suspect to sit back down.

The victim suffered three chipped teeth in the incident, including two that had to be replaced by crowns, the court papers state.

Prosecutors say she also had a bruised left eye, needed four stitches to a cut under her eye, and had bruises on her arms.

The affidavit says that when she was arrested by San Diego Harbor Police at the airport, she claimed she had acted in self-defense and blamed the victim for provoking her.

The incident was one in a string of violent outbursts against flight attendants as the airline industry opened up again after travel slowed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration said it had handed out fines against “unruly passengers” of more than $1 million in 2021.

Officials also said they had received reports of nearly 4,000 incidents of unruly behavior by passengers so far this year.

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