Categories: World News

US Woman Pleads Guilty To Beating Up Flight Attendant In Mask Dispute

PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: An American Airlines plane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on November 23, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia.  PHOTO: Getty Images via AFP)

 

A California woman has pleaded guilty to punching a flight attendant in the face — bruising her and chipping three of her teeth — during an argument over mask-wearing and other air safety requirements.

Vyvianna Quinonez, a 28-year-old resident of Sacramento, had initially claimed she was acting in self-defense, before accepting Wednesday the federal charge of “interference” of a flight, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The incident took place on May 23, when Quinonez’s Southwest flight began its descent into Sacramento, according to the plea agreement.

The flight attendant requested Quinonez to fasten her seatbelt, stow her tray table, and reposition her mask so that it covered her mouth and nose.

In response, Quinonez pushed the flight attendant and then began “punching her in the face and head with a closed fist and grabbing her hair,” the agreement stated.

READ ALSO: US Health Regulator Authorizes Pfizer’s COVID-19 Pill

According to court documents, she then told police officers who came aboard for her arrest that she was only acting in self-defense — a fact rebutted by other passengers’ videos.

“The flight attendant who was assaulted was simply doing her job to ensure the safety of all passengers aboard the plane,” said Randy Grossman, a federal prosecutor in California.

The prosecutor’s office said it intends to ask for a jail sentence of four months plus six months of house arrest.

Quinonez will also be banned from flying for three years.

“We appreciate the efforts of federal and local authorities working to bring this case to justice,” said Southwest Airlines in a statement to AFP.

“Southwest Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to physical or verbal abuse against its employees.”

Incidents involving agitated or violent passengers have risen sharply in the United States since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, largely fueled by individuals’ refusal to wear a mask.

Last week, a man was forced to disembark a flight in Florida for wearing a red thong as a face mask.

According to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), more than 5,664 incidents were reported in 2021, of which more than 4,000 were mask-related.

As of August 2021, the FAA had recommended over $1 million in fines for unruly passengers.

AFP

Ronke Idowu

Disqus Comments Loading...
Share
Published by
Ronke Idowu
Tags: FAA Sacramento Vyvianna Quinonez

Recent Posts

  • Local

Christmas: ‘Invoke The Indomitable Spirit,’ Buhari Tells Nigerians

  President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerians to rekindle hope in the country, urging them to use the Christmas season…

7 mins ago
  • Headlines

Yuletide: FG Declares Free Passenger Train Rides

  The Federal Government through the Ministry of Transportation has in the spirit of Christmas declared passenger trains across the…

12 mins ago
  • Local

Court Orders NSCDC Commandant To Forfeit 60 Buildings, Land To FG

  A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the final forfeiture of 60 buildings illegally acquired by a former…

44 mins ago
  • Coronavirus

Nigeria Records Drop In COVID-19 Cases

  Nigeria on Thursday confirmed 1,940 more COVID -19 cases.  This was after the country reported a record 4,035 COVID-19…

50 mins ago
  • Local

NEMA Issues Safety Advisory As High Tension Cables Fall In Lagos

  The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has advised residents of Igando and Idimu areas of Lagos State to observe…

1 hour ago
  • Local

Buhari Presides Over Emergency Security Council Meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari presides over emergency security council meeting at the state house.

2 hours ago