Southwest Airlines Bans Passenger Who Allegedly ‘Assaulted' Flight Attendant, Knocking Out 2 Teeth
“She has been notified she is no longer welcome to fly on us,” a Southwest Airlines spokesman tells PEOPLE
Southwest Airlines has banned a passenger after she allegedly "assaulted" a flight attendant on an aircraft going from Sacramento, California to San Diego.
The passenger, identified by the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department as Vyvianna Quinonez, was arrested in San Diego after she allegedly "struck the flight attendant, causing serious injuries," officials said in a press release.
Quinonez and an unnamed flight attendant allegedly got into an altercation after the passenger was reprimanded for not wearing her face mask.
A graphic video of the altercation went viral, appearing to show the passenger punch the flight attendant, leaving her with a bloody nose.
"She has been notified she is no longer welcome to fly on us," Southwest spokesperson Chris Mainz told PEOPLE in a statement, confirming her ban.
"The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing," Mainz also told USA Today. "Law enforcement officials 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, 28, was charged with battery causing serious bodily injury, a felony.
It is unclear if the passenger obtained legal representation.
Southwest's flight attendants union, Transport Workers Union Local 556, wrote a letter to the company's CEO informing them about the incident.
"This past weekend, one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth,'' Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556 said in the letter obtained by USA Today. "Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences. I write to you today because we cannot tolerate our beloved cohearts (Southwest's word for co-workers) being abused in such a manner, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in ending these travesties.''
The Federal Aviation Administration announced a zero-tolerance policy for "unruly" passengers in March as there's been a spike in violence against flight crew over the past year.
"The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. The number of cases we're seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required," the announcement said.
"It's absolutely deplorable and you should never come from work with your teeth missing," the TWU Local 556 president told CBS8.
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However, the passenger who took the video of the flight between Quinonez and the flight attendant told the outlet, "Both of them, in my opinion, were wrong and it could have totally been avoided.
Michelle Manner told CBS8 that she recorded the video at the end of the fight, but it had been "escalated" by both parties.
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"The frustration from the first altercation was still brewing — in all of them — including the flight attendant, no doubt, and so it just escalated very, very fast," Michelle said. "The passenger was incorrect by hitting her, but she was also in my opinion, provoked."