San Diego, CA–A Sacramento woman pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to interfering with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant.
According to admissions in her plea agreement, on May 23 Vyvianna Quinonez boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 700 from Sacramento International Airport to San Diego International Airport. During the flight’s final descent, Quinonez was not wearing her facemask properly, unbuckled her seat belt, and pulled down her tray table—all in violation of federal rules and regulations.
A flight attendant approached Quinonez and requested that she fasten her seat belt, stow her tray table, and wear her facemask properly. The plea agreement states that Quinonez began filming the flight attendant on her cellphone and that she pushed the flight attendant. Around this time, another passenger began filming the interaction on her cellphone.
Quinonez admitted that she stood up and assaulted the flight attendant by punching her in the face and head with a closed fist and grabbing her hair. Several other passengers attempted to stop Quinonez by grabbing at her clothing and arms. A male passenger sitting nearby jumped in between Quinonez and the flight attendant and instructed Quinonez to sit down.
The plea agreement states that, as a result of being assaulted by Quinonez, the flight attendant was taken to the hospital and sustained several injuries. Three of the flight attendant’s teeth were chipped, resulting in two teeth later being replaced by crowns. The flight attendant’s left eye was bruised and swollen; she sustained a cut under her left eye, requiring three stitches; and she had a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right forearm.
Due to the assault, the flight attendant was not able to perform her normal duties, and the Captain delayed taxiing the airplane to the gate to wait for law enforcement officers to respond.
“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.”
Quinonez is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Todd Robinson on March 11, 2022 in San Diego court.