London, April 26 (IANS) Less than three weeks after a passenger was dragged off a United Airlines flight at the Chicago airport, the airline landed itself in another public relations fiasco on Wednesday after a giant rabbit died on its flight from Britain.
The three-foot-long (90 centimetres) continental giant rabbit named Simon, which was 10 months old, died while travelling from London Heathrow to O’Hare airport in Chicago, the Sun reported.
The rabbit had a veterinary checkup three hours before the takeoff and was “fit as a fiddle”, his breeder Annette Edwards said.
Edwards, from Worcestershire, England, told the newspaper that Simon was expected to grow to be the world’s biggest rabbit and was travelling to a buyer in the US.
Edwards added: “I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before. The client who bought Simon is very famous. He’s upset.”
A United Airlines spokeswoman confirmed the airline had offered assistance to one of its customers and was reviewing the incident.
She said: “We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team.”
“We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.”
The death of Simon comes less than three weeks after a video showing a passenger being dragged off a United Express flight sparked widespread outrage.
David Dao, 69, from Kentucky, was seen with a bloodied face after being forcibly taken off the plane by Chicago airport officers when he refused to give up his seat for the United Airlines’ staffers.
The most recent figures from the US Department of Transportation — dating from 2015 but released this February — show 35 animal deaths occurred during transit across 17 carriers in the US.
United Airlines accounted for 14 animal deaths in that period with a further nine reported injured among the nearly 100,000 animals carried by the company.