Alleged Argument Over Mask Ends In Flight Attendant Being Punched In The Face

by Kristina Johnson
Originally Published: 

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth after being punched by a passenger

An argument that may have been over mask-wearing turned violent on a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this week. A viral video caught the moment law enforcement officials say 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez began punching a flight attendant in the face.

Michelle Manner, the passenger who recorded the video, told the Sacremento Bee that the flight attendant and Quinonez had been arguing for basically the entire flight. She said their first encounter happened when the flight attendant asked Quinonez and the group she was traveling with to put their masks on properly, not letting their noses hang out. Why do people still need to be told that, 15+ months into a pandemic? In addition to completely defeating the purpose of wearing a mask at all, it also makes you look like an absolute goofball.

A spokesperson for Southwest, however, told the newspaper that the dispute was “not mask-related,” alleging only that Quinonez had ignored in-flight instructions from the crew.

Whatever the cause, the argument eventually escalated into the attack. Just before the first punch is thrown, you hear someone near Quinonez yell, “We are gonna sue you!” and you can also see the Quinonez mask is not around her nose at that point (though perhaps masks just become harder to keep in place when you’re in the middle of an airplane brawl, I’m not sure). Luckily for the flight attendant, the altercation was quickly broken up by another passenger.

Quinonez was taken off the plane by police, but so far it’s not yet clear what if any charges she’ll face. The flight attendant was taken to the hospital for her injuries.

Whether mask-usage was the main cause of this particular incident or not, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has led to a major spike in bad behavior onboard planes. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration said that since the start of the year, it’s received more than 1300 complaints about passenger behavior—normally, it sees anywhere from 100 to 150 in an entire year. Flight attendants have been hit, harassed, had food thrown at them—and that’s all with travel still way below its pre-pandemic levels.

Masks are still very much required on planes, though, and there’s no indication that will change any time soon. Flight attendants will likely continue to feel the wrath of unruly passengers, but here’s a tip: if you don’t like the feeling of a mask on your face, you definitely won’t like the feeling of handcuffs around your wrists when you get hauled off the plane instead.

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