September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Local travelers share moments before flight attendant was punched on Southwest flight

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A woman’s temper reached an all-time high on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego Sunday morning.

A flight attendant was physically attacked by a passenger and lost two teeth in the scuffle.

Mikuni sushi chef and owner Kotaro Arai’s fun-filled vacation to Miami got off to a bumpy start. Arai and other passengers on Southwest Airlines Flight 700 said they witnessed a violent dispute between a passenger and flight attendant on their way from Sacramento to San Diego.

“In the beginning, they were not arguing. They were just like ‘do this, don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.’ Then even the flight attendant said, ‘Don’t touch me,’” Arai recalled.

According to a Southwest airline’s spokesperson, the passenger ignored the flight crew’s constant reminders of wearing a seatbelt and putting her tray table away, and she became verbally and physically combative upon landing.

A witness claims the flight attendant provoked the incident.

“I was about to go there to, ‘Hey, take it easy.’ I was about to stand up and this lady stood up and pow,” Arai said. 

Arai took a photograph moments after the assault that shows the woman who allegedly threw the punch and the frazzled flight attendant bleeding from her face

“I would be on the floor like that if I get hit like that,” Arai told FOX40. “She went all force, too.”

A video sent to FOX40 by another passenger and local veterinarian shows what appears to be that same woman being escorted off the plane by the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department.

Port of San Diego Harbor police officials identified the passenger Tuesday as 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez and charged her with battery causing serious bodily injury. Quinonez was booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility.

“There were three officers who came on the plane and one of them was still back there with the flight attendant,” passenger Susan Marie Stidham told FOX40. “I talked to a flight attendant on my flight back the next day and she told me that yes, the flight attendant had broken teeth, a broken nose, facial injuries.”

The flight attendant was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital for treatment of “serious injuries,” according to police.

A union representing thousands of Southwest Airlines flight attendants is demanding the CEO take action to better protect the carrier’s crew from unruly and violent passengers. Lyn Montgomery, the president of TWU Local 556, outlined some of the disruptive behavior in a letter to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly on Monday.

“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” wrote Montgomery.

In response to Sunday’s incident, Southwest sent FOX40 a statement.

We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, and we will continue to work with both the FAA and the Union to preserve and protect the safety and well-being of our Flight Crews and Customers.

Chris Mainz, Southwest Airlines spokesperson

“I don’t know what makes somebody do such a stupid thing, I honestly don’t,” Stidham said.

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