According to the video, Ms. Quinonez, who was sitting in an aisle seat, stood up and punched the clerk several times in the face. She also grabbed her hair before the woman could walk down the aisle again. Several passengers reached for Mrs. 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, including a swollen eye, a bruised arm and a cut under her eye that required stitches. They said she also had three broken teeth, two of which needed to be replaced with crowns.
According to court documents, Mrs. Quinonez received a time sentence, while prosecutors requested four months in prison and six months house arrest. In imposing the longer sentence, Judge Robinson “strongly considered the need for general deterrence,” Jaclyn Stahl, an assistant US attorney, said in an email.
“He explained that the victims were not just victims of the flight attendant and Southwest Airlines, but all the passengers on the plane that day and flight attendants who worked in the industry,” said Ms. Stahl.
In a letter dated May 18 to Judge Robinson, a Southwest representative said the company wanted the sentence to serve as a deterrent to unruly and violent behavior. The letter said the company’s executive team had heard of “numerous flight attendants” who felt attacked during a pandemic that has sent fears of travel rising to all-time highs.
“What happened on Flight 700 was absolutely horrific,” wrote Sonya Lacore, a vice president at Southwest. “In my 20+ year career with Southwest, I have never seen such an unforgivable, violent attack on a flight attendant by a passenger. Worse, the incident was caught on video and broadcast through television and media outlets.”
“The video of the attack still makes me sick,” she added.