A video of a woman flying on Southwest Airlines recently went viral after she was filmed punching a flight attendant in the mouth and knocking her teeth out after a debate over mandatory mask-wearing became physical; the attacker has now been permanently banned from the airline, reports say.
Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, and her family were approached by an unnamed female airline worker on Sunday in regards to their decision to remove their masks – mandated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic – after their flight from Sacramento had landed in San Diego.
Conflicting witness statements paint differing pictures of the incident, with some onlookers claiming that the flight attendant may have actually escalated the situation and placed her hands on Quinonez first; one bystander reportedly told local media that Quinonez could be heard saying “Get off of me. Quit touching me. Get your hands off of me” at one point during the encounter.
Sonya Lacore, Southwest’s vice president of in-flight operations, confirmed via a statement that Quinonez would be permanently banned from ever flying in their planes ever again.
“As we’ve communicated previously, we do have a process to permanently restrict passengers from traveling on Southwest, and please know that the passenger involved in the most recent incident has been advised that she may no longer fly on Southwest Airlines,” she said.
The flight attendant suffered injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth, officials said, and Quinonez is currently facing a serious felony charge in connection with the incident, the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department said.
“According to witnesses, an altercation between a passenger and a flight attendant had taken place during the flight. During the altercation, the passenger struck the flight attendant, causing serious injuries,” they said. “Paramedics from the San Diego Fire Department transported the flight attendant to Scripps Memorial Hospital. Officers arrested Vyvianna Quinonez, age 28, for Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury. Quinonez was booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility.”
The TSA has extended in-flight mask mandates throughout September 13 for all passengers and staff.