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A 28-year-old woman who punched a flight attendant in May on a San Diego-bound plane, causing the attendant to lose two teeth, pleaded guilty to a felony charge in federal court Wednesday.

Vyvianna Quinonez, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to interfering with the duties of a flight attendant. She is expected to be sentenced in San Diego on March 11.

Prosecutors will recommend four months in custody and six months of home confinement, according to a plea deal.

Quinonez’s attorney, Knut Johnson, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.


The flight attendant on the Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento lost two teeth and suffered cuts and bruises in the May 23 attack, which happened just before the plane touched down at San Diego International Airport.

A passenger recorded part of the encounter. The 44-second video was posted online and went viral amid increasing reports of unruly airline passengers.

The footage shows shows a woman, later identified as Quinonez, springing from her backrow aisle seat and punching the flight attendant. The woman then grabs the attendant’s hair and keeps swinging. Another passenger jumps in, wedges between them and yells at Quinonez to sit down.

According to the plea agreement, Quinonez admitted the flight attendant had asked her to wear her face mask properly, buckle her seat belt and put up her tray table.

The flight attendant then returned to her jump seat as the plane landed. Quinonez began recording video on her cellphone of the flight attendant, who got up again and approached Quinonez. That’s when Quinonez stood up and punched the flight attendant, according to the plea agreement.

Harbor police escorted Quinonez from the plane. Prosecutors said previously in court documents that Quinonez told police she had acted in self-defense.

The flight attendant’s injuries included a cut that required four stitches and three chipped teeth — two of them damaged so badly they were replaced with crowns.

“The flight attendant who was assaulted was simply doing her job to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard the plane,” acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. “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.”

In addition to time in custody, prosecutors and Quinonez’s attorneys will jointly recommend a $5,000 fine, restitution, community service and anger management classes or counseling, according to the plea agreement. Quinonez will also be barred from flying on commercial airlines for three years.

The day after the encounter, the president of the union that represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants issued an open letter to the airline’s CEO, highlighting incidents involving passenger misconduct.

“This unprecedented number of incidents has reached an intolerable level, with passenger non-compliance events also becoming more aggressive in nature,” the union president, Lyn Montgomery, said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, nearly 5,779 incidents involving unruly passengers have been reported this year, with 4,156 incidents related to face masks and more than $1 million in fines proposed for unruly behavior.

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

Staff reporter Teri Figueroa and City News Service contributed to this report.

Source: This post first appeared on

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