United Airlines in new PR headache after giant rabbit dies on flight from London to Chicago

The 10-month old rabbit named Simon was travelling to O’Hare in Chicago from Britain after a celebrity owner purchased him

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2017, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2017, 7:30pm

United Airlines is facing another public relation headache after a potentially record-breaking giant rabbit perished onboard one of its transatlantic flights.

The 90cm 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.

Annette Edwards, a breeder from Worcestershire, told the newspaper that Simon was expected to grow to be the world’s biggest rabbit after his father Darius grew to 1.32 metres. She said his buyer was famous.

A United 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.

Watch: United passenger David Dao suffered concussion, broken nose

David Dao, 69, from Kentucky, was seen with a bloodied face after being forcibly taken off the plane by Chicago airport officers who had been summoned by United employees when he would not give up his seat.

Speaking after the incident, United’s chief executive, Oscar Munoz, said: “The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened.

“Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologise to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

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 accounted for 14 animal deaths in that period with a further nine reported injured among the nearly 100,000 animals carried by the company.

Edwards told the Sun: “Something very strange has happened and I want to know what. 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.”