Prosecutors are seeking just four months of jail time plus six months of home confinement for a woman who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to violently assaulting a Southwest Airlines flight attendant during a flight from Sacramento to San Diego in May 2021.
The flight attendant suffered three chipped teeth, two of which had to be replaced with crowns, after being punched repeatedly in the face in the face by Vyvianna M. Quinonez, 28, of Sacramento.
Quinone admitted to assaulting the flight attendant because she was asked to wear her face mask properly and fasten her seatbelt.
As well as the serious mouth injury, the flight attendant also required stitches for a cut underneath her eye, bruising to her left eye and a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right forearm.
Quinonez admitted to assaulting and interfering with the flight attendant in a plea agreement that was submitted in federal court on Wednesday. The maximum possible sentence for interfering with a flight attendant is 20-years imprisonment.
Prosecutors have raised eyebrows with their requested punishment which also includes a flight ban lasting just three years, a $5,000 fine and $20,000 restitution for the victim. Quinonez would also be required to undertake 250 hours of community service over three years.
“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.
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.”
Just before landing into San Diego, Quinonez admitted to lowering her face mask below her nose, as well as unbuckling her seatbelt and lowering her tray table – all of which are in breach of federal regulations.
When the victim approached Quinonez, she stood up and violently assaulted the flight attendant. Other passengers quickly jumped into the melee and pulled Quinonez off the victim.
The assault shocked the Southwest flight attendants union which immediately pressed the airline to do more to protect its aircrew. The incident resulted in Southwest Airlines delaying the return of alcohol sales for the foreseeable future.
Quinonez is due to be sentenced on March 11, 2022.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.