A California woman who punched a flight attendant in the face during a flight a year ago, knocking out her teeth, has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
A federal judge in San Diego also ordered Vyvianna Quinonez29, to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution and a $7,500 fine for the assault on a Southwest Airlines flight between Sacramento and San Diego on May 23, 2021.
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During the final descent of the flight, the flight attendant had asked Quiñonez to fasten his seat belt, put the tray away and put on his mask correctly.
Instead, Quiñonez began recording the assistant with his cell phone and pushed her away. He then stood up and physically assaulted her before other passengers intervened, authorities said.
Another passenger recorded the assault with his own cell phone.
The Sacramento woman is banned from flying for three years while on supervised release and will be required to attend anger management or counseling classes.
Quinonez pleaded guilty last year to one count of interfering with crewmembers and flight attendants, admitting that he punched the flight attendant in the face and head with a clenched fist and grabbed her hair. Neither she nor her attorney could be reached for her views on Tuesday, when the ruling was issued.
According to the plea agreement, the flight attendant suffered three chipped teeth, two of which required crowns, along with bruises and a cut under her left eye that required stitches.
“Attacks on flight crew members, who perform vital jobs to ensure the safety of passengers, will not be tolerated,” US Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement after the sentencing.
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 interference with a flight crew. Vyvianna Quinonez now faces at least 20 years in prison. pic.twitter.com/ghUWkBTGMm
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) September 2, 2021
The incident was part of an escalation in unruly behavior by airline passengers amid the coronavirus pandemic and prompted the president of the flight attendants union to call for more federal air marshals on planes.
In 2021, US airlines reported more than 5,000 incidents with unruly passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Most were passengers who refused to comply with the federal requirement that passengers wear masks during flights, but nearly 300 were intoxicated passengers, the FAA said.