A woman who was seen punching a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in the face in a viral video has been charged with assault

Flight attendant mask covid
Flight attendants have seen an uptick in passenger violence during the pandemic. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • A woman has been charged with assault after a video showed she hit a flight attendant, AP reports.
  • The clip from May shows the woman punching the flight attendant in the face, knocking out two teeth.
  • The flight attendant reportedly asked her to put on her seatbelt and properly wear her mask.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A woman has been charged in federal court after a video showed her punching a flight attendant in the face.

The passenger, identified as Vyvianna Quinonez, was charged with assault as well as interfering with a flight crew, the Associated Press reports.

The flight attendant lost two teeth and sustained a cut under her left eye that required four stitches, as well as bruises to her left eye and right arm, according to court documents cited in the AP.

The altercation took place on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to San Diego in May. The flight attendant had asked Quinonez to put on her seatbelt, stow away her tray table, and properly wear her mask, the AP reports.

The video documenting the incident showed the woman striking the flight attendant several times before another passenger steps in to stop her. “Don’t you dare touch a flight attendant like that,” the man tells the passenger. Beside him, the flight attendant is seen with blood running down her face.

Following the altercation, Southwest announced it was pushing back its plans to resume alcohol service onboard flights, citing “the recent uptick in industry-wide incidents of passenger disruptions inflight.”

At the time of the incident, Southwest told Insider, “We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”

The incident is part of a growing wave of unruly passenger behavior plaguing flight attendants. In response to the rising violence, the TSA resumed self-defense trainings for flight attendants in July. So far this year, the FAA has proposed fines totaling more than $US1 ($AU1) million against disruptive passengers, including one who stuck his head up a flight attendant’s skirt. The agency has gotten more than 4,000 reports of unruly passenger incidents this year. Roughly 3,000 of these reports stem from passengers refusing to wear masks.