A California woman who punched a flight attendant in the face during a flight, breaking her teeth, pleaded guilty to a federal charge Wednesday, and now could face up to 20 years in prison for the crime, authorities said.

Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, of Sacramento, entered a plea to interfering with a flight attendant, the US attorney’s office said.

Quinonez was on a May 23 Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego when a flight attendant, identified only as S.L, asked her to buckle her seatbelt, stow her tray table and wear her mask properly during the descent – all violations of federal rules and regulations.

Quinonez’s admitted in her plea agreement that she was not wearing her face mask properly at the time of the incident. 

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Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, from California, has been charged with federal counts of felony assault and interfering with a flight crew for allegedly attacking a Southwest flight attendant

Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, from California, has been charged with federal counts of felony assault and interfering with a flight crew for allegedly attacking a Southwest flight attendant

Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, from California, has been charged with federal counts of felony assault and interfering with a flight crew for allegedly attacking a Southwest flight attendant

A viral video shows a passenger identified as Quinonez punching the crew member in the face with a closed fist and pulling her hair (pictured)

A viral video shows a passenger identified as Quinonez punching the crew member in the face with a closed fist and pulling her hair (pictured)

A viral video shows a passenger identified as Quinonez punching the crew member in the face with a closed fist and pulling her hair (pictured)

A male passenger jumped between the passenger and the flight attendant to stop the assault

A male passenger jumped between the passenger and the flight attendant to stop the assault

A male passenger jumped between the passenger and the flight attendant to stop the assault

FAA, TSA threaten to take away the precheck privilege for anyone who’s violent on flights 

On Tuesday, the FAA and Transportation Security Administration also announced that passengers facing fines for unruly behavior may have their TSA PreCheck privileges revoked.

‘TSA has zero tolerance for the unruly behaviors, especially those involving physical assault occurring aboard aircraft,’ TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

‘This partnership with FAA will help ensure the safety and security of all passengers and hold those who violate federal regulations accountable for their actions, he said.

If you act out of line, you will wait in line, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.

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Instead, Quinonez began recording the attendant on her cellphone, pushed her, then stood up and punched the woman in the face and grabbed her hair before other passengers intervened, authorities said. 

The assault was recorded on another passenger’s cellphone. 

The plea agreement says that the flight attendant suffered three chipped teeth, two of which needed crowns, along with bruises and a cut under her left eye that needed stitches.

‘The flight attendant who was assaulted was simply doing her job to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard the plane,’ acting United States Attorney Randy Grossman said in the statement. 

‘It’s inexcusable for anyone to use violence on an airplane for any reason.’

The incident marked an escalation in unruly behavior by airline passengers and led the president of the flight attendants’ union to ask for more federal air marshals on planes.

Quinonez will also be barred from flying on commercial airlines for three years, according to prosecutors. 

Quinonez will be sentenced in March in San Diego federal court. 

She could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

However, prosecutors said they probably will recommend a sentence of four months in custody and six months of home confinement, KGTV-TV reported.

Airlines reported nearly 5,779 incidents of unruly passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration this year.

Of that number, 4,156 incidents involved passengers refusing to follow the federal requirement for passengers to wear face masks while on planes. 

The flight attendant is seen with blood streaming down her face after suffering a cut beneath her right eye that required stitches

The flight attendant is seen with blood streaming down her face after suffering a cut beneath her right eye that required stitches

Her left eye was bruised and swollen, and she had a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right arm

Her left eye was bruised and swollen, and she had a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right arm

The flight attendant is seen with blood streaming down her face after suffering a cut beneath her right eye that required stitches. Her left eye was bruised and swollen, and she had a bruise in the shape of fingers on her right arm 

Quinonez, left, claimed self-defense. She also faces a charge of felony battery causing serious bodily injury in state court

Quinonez, left, claimed self-defense. She also faces a charge of felony battery causing serious bodily injury in state court

Quinonez, left, claimed self-defense. She also faces a charge of felony battery causing serious bodily injury in state court

The victim is pictured being taken away by wheelchair en route to a hospital in San Diego

The victim is pictured being taken away by wheelchair en route to a hospital in San Diego

The victim is pictured being taken away by wheelchair en route to a hospital in San Diego

Another 300 incidents have involved intoxicated passengers, according to the FAA.

More than $1 million in fines have been doled out to unruly passenger behavior in 2021 alone. 

On Tuesday, the FAA and Transportation Security Administration also announced that passengers facing fines for unruly behavior may have their TSA PreCheck privileges revoked. 

‘If you act out of line, you will wait in line,’ FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. 

Source: Daily Mail

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