A Southwest Airlines flight attendant had two of her teeth knocked out in a wild onboard attack by an unhinged female passenger – but a fellow flier claims the victim is partly to blame.
The shocking assault happened on Sunday morning, after a flight from Sacramento landed at San Diego airport, according to Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz.
A female passenger “repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” Mainz said Tuesday.
The flight attendant was “seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth,” Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, wrote in a letter to the airline’s CEO.
The passenger, identified as 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, was taken into custody after cops were called to meet the plane as it landed in San Diego.
The flight attendant, who has not been named, received hospital treatment for her injuries and was later released.
A fellow flier who filmed part of the violent incident has since claimed that the flight attendant provoked the altercation due to her “very unprofessional” attitude.
Michelle Manner, who was seated two rows in front of Quinonez, told Fox40 that the flight attendant confronted the suspect and members of her family about putting their face masks back on.
“It was so unnecessary. In the first altercation, she had said that she was going to call the captain,” Manner said.
“And she should’ve just stayed there in her back cubby, but she came back out screaming at them again.”
As the argument escalated, Manner said that Quinonez told the attendant at least three times, “Get off of me. Quit touching me. Get your hands off of me.”
“The flight attendant continued to yell. And I mean she was yelling. We got to the point to, where we’re like, should we start videoing this?”
“She was very unprofessional. Very rude, about the way she handled anything,” Manner said of the flight attendant.
Quinonez was charged with battery causing serious injury and later released from jail on $35,000 bond, CBS8 reported.
Montgomery warned in her letter to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly that the attack was part of a rising wave of cases in which staff safety had been threatened by unruly passengers.
“The unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” the union leader wrote, pointing to 477 “passenger misconduct incidents” on Southwest planes between April 8 and May 15.
Montgomery called on Kelly to lobby for more federal air marshals on flights and to ban passengers who break the rules.
“Let’s work together to increase personal safety and security across the industry and bring some stability back to our working lives,” she wrote.
Southwest have since announced in a memo to staff that Quinonez is permanently banned from the airline, according to USA Today.