July 4, 2022

A passenger has just been sentenced to 15 months in jail for her behavior on a May 2021 Southwest Airlines flight.

The passenger who punched a Southwest flight attendant

The incident in question involves a May 23, 2021, Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento (SMF) to San Diego (SAN). According to reports, as the plane began its descent, a flight attendant asked a 29-year-old woman to put on her seatbelt, stow her tray table, and put on her face mask properly.

Rather than complying with those basic instructions, the passenger instead began recording the flight attendant with her cell phone, pushing her, standing up, and then punching the flight attendant in the face and yanking her hair.

The entire assault was captured on cell phone (from another passenger), and the flight attendant suffered three chipped teeth, two of which needed crowns. On top of that, the flight attendant had bruises and a cut under her left eye that required stitches. You can see part of the video of the assault for yourself below, though be warned that it’s graphic.

While we’ve seen a huge uptick in passengers misbehaving on flights since the start of the pandemic, this has to be among the worst behavior we’ve ever seen on a plane. This specific incident was also one of the reasons that Southwest delayed the return of alcohol sales on flights.

Passenger faces 15 months in jail for assault

Over a year after the incident took place, the passenger has finally been sentenced this past week by a federal judge in San Diego. The passenger plead guilty to one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants. As far as sentencing goes, the woman:

  • Has been sentenced to 15 months in jail
  • Has to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution
  • Has to pay a fine of $7,500 for assault
  • Won’t be allowed to fly for three years while on supervised release
  • Must participate in an anger management class or counseling

This is the second Southwest passenger to be sentenced to jail this past week. Another Southwest passenger was sentenced to 48 days in jail for masturbating multiple times next to his seatmate. The passenger had several prior state and local convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct. In that case the sentencing happened a bit faster, as the flight only took place in early April of this year.

Bottom line

It’s good to see passengers facing consequences for their abhorrent behavior. There’s misbehavior, and then there’s assaulting a flight attendant to the point that they have their teeth knocked out and require stitches. The worst part is that all of this happened simply because the flight attendant was trying to get the passenger to comply with regulations.

Fortunately we’ve seen a significant decrease in unruly passenger behavior since the mask mandate ended, so hopefully that continues.

What do you make of this Southwest passenger’s punishment?

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