Passenger accused of punching flight attendant in San Diego banned from Southwest flights

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SAN DIEGO — Southwest Airlines says a woman accused of punching a flight attendant during service to San Diego on Sunday has been banned from the airline permanently.

Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, was arrested on suspicion of battery causing serious bodily injury after the incident on Southwest Airlines Flight 700 on Sunday. The plane was headed from Sacramento to San Diego International Airport.

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Video obtained Tuesday shows the flight attendant being hit in the face multiple times. Another passenger quickly intervened and stood between the two while yelling, “Don’t you dare touch a flight attendant like that.”

Officers with the Port of San Diego Harbor police boarded the plane at the gate and escorted the passenger off the flight. The flight attendant was left bloodied and seriously injured and was taken to a hospital, according to officials.

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said the passenger “repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions” and became “verbally and physically abusive” as the flight landed in San Diego.

On Friday, Southwest Airlines confirmed to FOX 5 that the passenger will no longer be allowed to fly with Southwest.

“The disruptive passenger from Sunday’s altercation is restricted from ever flying on Southwest Airlines again, and she has been advised this decision is final,” spokesperson Chris Mainz said.

WARNING: The video below contains explicit language and images of a passenger hitting a flight attendant that viewers may find disturbing.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the assault is part of a disturbing trend. The agency has fielded roughly 2,500 “unruly passenger” reports filed by airlines since the beginning of the year, including 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to wear a face mask.

One passenger told FOX 5 that Sunday’s disagreement stemmed from the flight attendant’s warnings about face masks. Michelle Manner, who recorded video of the attack, said the two had been going back and forth about the woman’s mask being below her nose for some time.

“That’s when she just stood up and decked her. She should not have done that, obviously. No one can ever be OK with laying hands on anybody,” Manner said.

Quinonez is expected to appear before a judge for the first time in September.

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