Vyvianna Quinonez, a 28-year-old woman, has been banned from ever flying Southwest Airlines after she allegedly “assaulted” a flight attendant.
The incident occurred on an aircraft heading from Sacramento to San Diego on Sunday and quickly went viral on social media. A graphic video captured by Michelle Manner depicts the very end of an argument, in which Vyvianna resorts to punching the flight attendant. Blood drips down the woman’s face, and she allegedly lost two teeth afterwords as a result of the impact. You can see the intense moment (below).
In a statement to People on Thursday, Chris Mainz, a spokesperson for the company, said of the passenger:
“She has been notified she is no longer welcome to fly on us.”
When chatting with CNN, he added:
“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing.”
There were also reports saying it was a mask compliance issue, though we are ultimately unsure what exactly lead to the altercation.
Vyvianna was charged with a felony — battery causing serious bodily injury. She is currently free on bail. It’s unclear whether she has legal representation at this time. As for what led to this outburst, Manner, who captured the clip, says that, while Quinonez was definitely in the wrong, the flight attendant is not as innocent as it may appear. She told CBS 8:
“The frustration from the first altercation was still brewing — in all of them — including the flight attendant, no doubt, and so it just escalated very, very fast. The passenger was incorrect by hitting her, but she was also in my opinion, provoked.”
You can hear similar remarks shouted in the background of the video by other (off-screen) passengers. The eye-witness claimed prior to filming, the duo had been arguing for around five minutes over the proper way to wear a mask. The passenger’s was reportedly below her nose at the time. Michelle even claimed the flight attendant had been leaning over the alleged attacker in the aisle seat, which likely “provoked” the punch.
“I heard the passenger say three times something to the effect of ‘get off of me,’ ‘quit touching on—,’ ‘don’t lean on me.’”
“Both of them, in my opinion, were wrong and it could have totally been avoided.”
Sadly, injuries and alleged abuse like this against flight attendants has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transport Workers Union Local 556 actually wrote a poignant letter to the airline’s CEO after this attack, urging for “help,” explaining:
“This past weekend, one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth.”
The letter, obtained by USA Today and written by president Lyn Montgomery, continued:
“Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences. I write to you today because we cannot tolerate our beloved cohearts (Southwest’s word for co-workers) being abused in such a manner, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in ending these travesties.’’
The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced a zero-tolerance policy for “unruly” passengers back in March, but even that doesn’t seem to have done the trick. Their announcement at the time noted:
“The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”
It’s obvious that something needs to change since Lyn reiterated to CBS 8:
“It’s absolutely deplorable and you should never come from work with your teeth missing.”
Nobody can deny that!
While this incident may have been more complicated than first meets the eye, flight attendants have sacrificed so much to keep doing their jobs so people could continue to travel during a pandemic. The least passengers could do is listen to the rules and respect these essential workers! Reactions, Perezcious readers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below)!
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