Passenger who ‘seriously assaulted’ flight attendant banned by Southwest

A passenger who allegedly assaulted a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, knocking out two of their teeth, has been permanently banned from traveling with the airline.

According to USA Today, Southwest’s vice president of in-flight operations, Sonya Lacore, announced the ban in a Wednesday memo sent to flight attendants.

“As we’ve communicated previously, we do have a process to permanently restrict passengers from traveling on Southwest, and please know that the passenger involved in the most recent incident has been advised that she may no longer fly on Southwest Airlines,” Lacore wrote.

Vyvianna Quinonez was identified by local police earlier this week as the passenger who allegedly initiated a physical altercation with a flight attendant on a Southwest flight headed to San Diego on Sunday. Quinonez was charged with battery causing serious bodily injury, which is a felony, according to USA Today.

“This past weekend, one of our flight attendants was seriously assaulted, resulting in injuries to the face and a loss of two teeth,” Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556 said in a letter obtained by the news outlet describing the incident. “Unfortunately, this is just one of many occurrences. I write to you today because we cannot tolerate our beloved cohearts [Southwest’s word for co-workers] being abused in such a manner, and because I am asking for your help and leadership in ending these travesties.”

Southwest addressed the incident on Tuesday, noting that it does not tolerate abuse of its Flight Crews.

“The passenger repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing,” a spokesperson said at the time. “We do not condone or tolerate verbal or physical abuse of our Flight Crews, who are responsible for the safety of our passengers.”

Lacore reiterated that stance, saying that she has been “deeply troubled” by the incident and has reached out to the flight attendant who was involved, USA Today reported.

“Please don’t mistake my lack of communication for my lack of work behind the scenes to ensure first and foremost, our flight attendant received immediate aid and ongoing care. I have been in contact with her, and we will continue to provide her the support she needs,” she said. 

“I have also been gathering the necessary information to ensure this incident was appropriately reported — a step that must be taken before I can share accurate information with you all, and it’s important to me that you have the facts. I hope by now that you understand where my focus has been since this occurred and that my heart has been deeply troubled.”

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration warned that it has seen an influx in unruly airline passengers this year, with nearly 1,300 reports and potential violations reported in about 260 cases since February.

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