A woman who violently assaulted a Southwest Airlines flight attendant because she was asked to put her seatbelt on before landing has finally been sentenced to a 15-mont prison sentence and will have to pay more than $33,000 in restitution and fines.
Vyvianna M. Quinonez of Sacramento pleaded guilty to interfering with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant late last year but her sentencing was delayed so that the court could deal with a separate DUI charge.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors had originally sought just four months’ imprisonment for the May 2021 assault aboard a Southwest flight from Sacramento to San Diego. The incident went viral after cellphone footage of Quinonez lashing out at the flight attendant was made public.
Shortly before landing in San Diego, Quinonez was asked to fasten her seatbelt, latch her tray table and wear her face mask correctly. Quinonez spoke back to the flight attendant before standing up and repeatedly punching her in the face.
The flight attendant suffered three chipped teeth, two of which had to be replaced with crowns. She also required stitches for a cut underneath her eye and suffered bruising to her left eye and a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right forearm.
“Attacks on flight crew members, who perform vital jobs to ensure passenger safety, will not be tolerated,” commented U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman following the sentencing.
The 29-year-old suspect was found guilty of one charge of interfering with flight crew members and along with the prison sentence has been ordered to pay $25,981.57 in restitution and a $7,500 fine. Quinonez will also be subject to three years of supervised release.
Quinonez was meant to be sentenced earlier this year but she was arrested for driving under the influence in January after the California Highway Patrol spotted her driving erratically.
As part of her defence, Quinonez claimed gastric band surgery caused her blood alcohol concentration to rise abnormally.
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.