In one of the — grossly — many cases of assaults on flight attendants during this pandemic because Americans don't know how to behave, a Sacramento woman has pleaded guilty to punching a flight attendant on a Southwest flight in May.
The case made national headlines when, on a May 23 Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego, a woman now identified as 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez punched a flight attendant in the face after being asked to fasten her seatbelt and properly wear her mask. The incident happened as the plane was about to descend into San Diego, and the unidentified flight attendant ended up with two teeth punched out and a black eye.
"A flight attendant approached Quinonez and requested that she fasten her seat belt, stow her tray table, and wear her facemask properly," explains a release from the Department of Justice. "The plea agreement states that Quinonez began filming the flight attendant on her cellphone, and that she pushed the flight attendant. Around this time, another passenger began filming the interaction on her cellphone."
Investigators say that Quinonez "admitted that she stood up and assaulted the flight attendant by punching her in the face and head with a closed fist and grabbing her hair." Quinonez was then restrained by other passengers.
"The flight attendant who was assaulted was simply doing her job to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard the plane," said Acting United States Attorney Randy Grossman in a statement. "It’s inexcusable for anyone to use violence on an airplane for any reason, particularly toward a flight attendant who is there to keep all the passengers safe. We are not going to tolerate violence or interference with the flight crew, and we will pursue criminal charges against those who break the law."
Quinonez is scheduled to be sentenced in March, and she stands to face up to 20 years in prison. However, as Bay Area News Group reports, prosecutors are likely to recommend a sentence of just four months, followed by six months of home confinement.
The May assault on the Southwest flight came after months of similarly violent incidents aboard other flights, many of them stemming from rules about mask wearing — because Americans are idiots, especially the ones who won't be vaccinated and think wearing a mask is somehow an imposition.
Lyn Montgomery, the president of Local 556, the union representing Southwest flight attendants, wrote an open letter to the company's CEO two days later, saying that "passenger non-compliance events" had reached an "intolerable level," and had generally become "more aggressive in nature."
""I’ve been in the industry since 1992, and this is the worst ever," Montgomery said, speaking to the Associated Press. "People seem to be more angry. When they’re asked to do something, compliance seems to be more difficult."
Around 5,000 similar incidents of passengers behaving badly were reported by airlines this year to the FAA.
Photo: Samantha Gades