SAN DIEGO — A flight from Sacramento to San Diego had just landed Sunday when a flight attendant got into an argument with some passengers over masks. The flight attendant walked away, then returned a few minutes later, and that’s when the argument turned violent, according to witnesses.
Video shows the flight attendant punched in the face. She reportedly had two teeth knocked out. The passenger who hit her was escorted off the plane by law enforcement.
“Both of them, in my opinion, were wrong and it could have totally been avoided,” said Michelle Manner, who took the video that shows the moment the verbal fight turned physical.
Michelle made it clear that she only captured the end of the fight on her camera. She said about five minutes earlier, the flight attendant was arguing with the passenger by the window because her mask was below her nose. Michelle said the flight attendant left to call the captain, then returned, and the argument continued.
“The frustration from the first altercation was still brewing - in all of them - including the flight attendant, no doubt, and so it just escalated very, very fast,” Michelle said.
She said the flight attendant was leaning over the woman on the aisle to get closer to the passenger by the window.
“I heard the passenger say three times something to the effect of, 'Get off of me. Don't lean on me,'" Michelle said.
Seconds later, that passenger, identified as 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, is seen on video punching the flight attendant in the face.
“The passenger was incorrect by hitting her, but she was also in my opinion, provoked,” Michelle said.
Lyn Montgomery is the president of the union that represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants.
“It's absolutely deplorable and you should never come from work with your teeth missing,” she said.
She added that arguments over mask-wearing are escalating, along with other general compliance issues.
“Just since April alone, we've seen 477 incidents nationwide. We've seen, since the beginning of the year, 2,500 incidents," Montgomery said.
Quinonez faces a charge of felony battery and is currently free on bail.