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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Passenger banned from Southwest Airlines after altercation

A woman accused of assaulting a Southwest Airlines lines attendant on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego has been permanently banned from the airline, officials said.

“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz said in an email to The Times on Friday.

A video of the altercation obtained by the Sacramento Bee shows the woman punching the flight attendant, who then appears dazed and bloodied while other passengers try to keep the woman seated.

A union leader for airline employees said the flight attendant lost two teeth in the attack.

The incident happened Sunday morning on Flight 700, according to the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department, which received a call about the disturbance on the aircraft around 8:55 a.m.

Harbor police officers met the aircraft at the gate, they said. Witnesses told police that the passenger, later identified as Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, struck the flight attendant, “causing serious injuries” during an altercation.

Paramedics from the San Diego Fire Department transported the flight attendant, who was not identified, to Scripps Memorial Hospital.

Quinonez was arrested on suspicion of battery causing serious bodily injury and was booked in the Las Colinas Detention Facility, police said. Sheriff’s officials could not immediately confirm her status Friday morning.

Quinonez, a resident of Antelope in Sacramento County, told CBS8 that she acted in self-defense. One passenger, Susan Marie Stidham, said on Facebook that the attack came “simply because she was asked to put her seatbelt back on.”

In an open letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, union president Lyn Montgomery said there has been an “unprecedented number” of incidents of passenger misconduct, noting that there were 477 incidents on Southwest Airlines aircraft from April 8 to May 15.

“Today’s traveling environment requires a new level of firmness in both tone and direction to ensure proper control in the cabin of our aircraft as the attitudes and behaviors of the flying public have, unfortunately, declined,” Montgomery said.

Quinonez has been banned from ever flying on Southwest Airlines again, officials said.

“She has been advised this decision is final,” Mainz said.

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