SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- A flight attendant had two of her teeth knocked out and suffered injuries to her face when a passenger attacked her on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego Sunday morning.
San Diego resident, Michelle Manner, captured part of the incident on camera as she was sitting two rows away.
In the video, you see a woman, now identified as Vyvianna Quinonez, punching the flight attendant repeatedly until a man gets in the way to stop her.
“I was shocked at what was going on,” said Manner. “ I could tell that her teeth were loose when she was back in the cubby, and her face was bleeding pretty bad.”
Manner said it first started with a verbal argument between the attendant and Quinonez. She claims a bit later, things got heated when the flight attendant was getting too close to Quinonez and also enforcing the mask mandate. Manner said the attendant was reaching over Quinonez while speaking with another passenger in the same row.
“Both parties were wrong in my opinion; they both did not handle this the way it should have been handled,” said Manner. “She was asked three times at least by the passenger before she got hit to ‘stop, back up, get off me.’”
A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines could not confirm if this was a mask-related incident but sent the following statement.
“Our reports indicate that a passenger physically assaulted a Flight Attendant upon landing on Flight #700 from Sacramento to San Diego Sunday morning. The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions (tray table in upright position, seat belt, etc.) and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing. Law Enforcement Officials (LEOs) were requested to meet the flight upon arrival, and the passenger was taken into custody. We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”
Quinonez was escorted off the flight and arrested by the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department for 243 (d) PC- Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury. She’s due to return to San Diego for a hearing on Sept. 30.
Paramedics took the flight attendant to Scripps Memorial Hospital with serious injuries to her face.
Lyn Montgomery is the president of TWU Local 556, the union representing Southwest flight attendants. She wrote an open letter to the airline’s CEO calling for more to be done to protect the crews on board these flights.
She said from Apr. 8 to May 15, there were 477 passenger misconduct incidents on Southwest flights.
“I believe most of the problems are pandemic related, and the wearing of the masks has been a constant challenge for flight attendants to enforce,” said Montgomery.
She asked the CEO to demand the U.S. government to increase Federal Air Marshals (FAM) on flights to ensure safe travel for all.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tells ABC 10News it has received about 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers since Jan. 1, 2021. About 1,900 were reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.
A spokesperson for the FAA said, “Based on our experience, we can say with confidence that the number of reports we’ve received during the past several months are significantly higher than the numbers we’ve seen in the past.”