Confronting footage has shown the moment a flight attendant was viciously attacked by a passenger and had two teeth knocked clean out of her mouth in front of a plane full of passengers.
The disturbing incident took place inside a Southwest Airlines plane after it touched down in San Diego from Sacramento, in the US state of California, on Sunday (local time), CBS8 reported.
Vyvianna Quinonez was filmed getting up from her aisle seat to attack the flight attendant, unleashing at least half a dozen punches before a male passenger intervened.
The 28-year-old was filmed by another passenger being removed from the plane by police, with it later being revealed she was arrested and charged with suspicion of battery causing serious injury.
She has since been released from prison on a US$35,000 bond, CBS8 reported.
Witness Susan Marie Stidman described what she saw happen in a post to Facebook, claiming Ms Quinonez took off her seat belt and stood up while the plane was in motion.
"The flight attendant told her to keep her seat belt fastened while we were still moving. What I saw was the flight attendant in the front suddenly start screaming 'No, No, No! Stop!', and running toward the back," she wrote.
"I thought maybe someone was trying to open the back doors at first, but the woman in the back was attacking the flight attendant, punching her in the head."
Ms Stidman added that she saw the flight attendant "staggering back with a bloody face".
"We were all told to stay in our seats while they brought in police to remove the unruly passenger."
Another passenger, Michelle Manner, told Fox40 she was sitting two rows in front of the altercation, and believed the flight attendant had acted unprofessionally in the lead-up to the attack.
New video shows an altercation between Vyvianna Quinonez and a Southwest Airlines flight attendant. A union representative says the flight attendant lost two teeth when she was struck. Quinonez who was arrested on battery charges claims it was self-defense. pic.twitter.com/aCAHGHxF5b
— CBS News 8 (@CBS8) May 26, 2021
“Vyvianna had said to her three times, that we could hear, ‘Get off of me. Quit touching me. Get your hands off of me'," Ms Manner said.
She added the flight attendant had earlier threatened to tell the captain, and instead of staying in the "back cubby", came out "screaming" at Ms Quinonez.
"The flight attendant continued to yell. And I mean she was yelling. We got to the point to, where we’re like, should we start videoing this?" she said.
Ms Manner described the flight attendant as "very unprofessional" and "very rude".
A spokesperson for the airline came out in defence of its employee, saying the passenger "repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions and became verbally and physically abusive upon landing", according to the New York Post.
In an open letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, the president of the flight attendants' union, Lyn Montgomery, wrote the victim lost two teeth in the incident.
The flight attendant was reportedly treated in hospital and has since been released.
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