Ms. Quinonez, who was sitting in an aisle seat, stood up and punched the attendant in the face multiple times, according to the video. She also grabbed her hair before the woman was able to move back up the aisle. Several passengers grabbed at Ms. Quinonez’s clothes to try to stop her.
Prosecutors said the flight attendant, who was not named in court documents, was taken to a hospital with injuries that included a swollen eye, a bruised arm and a cut under her eye that had to be stitched. They said she also had three chipped teeth, two of which had to be replaced with crowns.
According to court documents, Ms. Quinonez sought a sentence of time served while prosecutors had requested four months in custody and six months in home confinement. In imposing the longer sentence, Judge Robinson “strongly considered the need for general deterrence,” Jaclyn Stahl, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in an email.
“He explained that the victims included not just the flight attendant victim and Southwest Airlines, but all passengers on the plane that day and flight attendants working in the industry,” Ms. Stahl said.
In a letter dated May 18 and addressed to Judge Robinson, a Southwest representative said that the company wanted the sentence to serve as a deterrent to unruly and violent behavior. The letter said that the company’s executive team had heard from “countless flight attendants” who felt under attack during a pandemic that pushed fear around travel to an all-time high.
“What happened on Flight 700 was absolutely horrific,” wrote Sonya Lacore, a vice president at Southwest. “In my 20+ year career at Southwest, I have never seen such an inexcusable, violent assault of a flight attendant by a passenger. Even worse, the incident was captured on video and cast across television and media channels.”
“The video of the assault still sickens me,” she added.
Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.
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