Woman who punched Southwest flight attendant over mask request, breaking her teeth, gets 15 months in prison

Southwest Airlines.
The interior of a Southwest Airlines plane.Jimmy Rooney/Shutterstock
  • Vyvianna M. Quinonez was sentenced to 15 months in federal custody on Friday.

  • She pleaded guilty to interfering with a Southwest Airlines employee last year.

  • Quinonez assaulted the flight attendant, chipping her teeth and wounding her under her eye.

A passenger who assaulted a Southwest Airlines flight attendant by punching her in the face was sentenced Friday to 15 months in federal prison.

Vyvianna M. Quinonez, 29, of Sacramento, California, was also ordered to pay $25,981 in restitution, a $7,500 fine, and will be under supervised release for three years, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Quinonez pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with the airline employee in federal court in December last year.

The incident occurred during a Southwest flight from Sacramento to San Diego on May 24, 2021. Video published by Caliornia news station ABC7 showed the attack:

Quinonez refused to fasten her seatbelt, pull her tray table down, and properly wear her mask, Insider reported in September of last year, when Quinonez was initially charged.

The footage shows Quinonez striking the attendant several times, leaving her with blood running down her face. The attack stopped when a passenger stood up and got between the two women.

According to admissions in her plea agreement, Quinonez shouted profanities at a flight attendant after refusing to comply. She then began filming the flight attendant on her cellphone shortly before pushing her.

Quinonez admitted she stood up and intentionally assaulted the flight attendant, per her plea agreement.

The flight attendant was taken to the hospital, where she was treated for three chipped teeth, bruises on her eye and forearm, and a cut under her left eye which required stitches, according to prosecutors.

In a letter filed with the court, the vice president of inflight operations for Southwest stated that Quinonez "created an unsafe environment" onboard the flight and made employees fearful of going to work.

Southwest Airlines told Insider in a statement on Saturday that it maintains "zero tolerance" for any type of assault or harassment of its employees. "This horrible incident was completely unacceptable, and the Court's sentencing decision further emphasizes that unruly behavior will not be tolerated," the statement said.

"Today's sentence should send a very strong message to air travelers — the FBI will vigorously pursue anyone who assaults or interferes with flight crews," said FBI special agent Stacey Moy in the Department of Justice's press release.

Quinonez was banned from flying on commercial aircraft for three years and was ordered to participate in anger-management classes or counseling.

Read the original article on Insider