Beleaguered airline United Airlines is in the news again. This time, only a matter of weeks after hitting the headlines when passenger David Dao was forcibly ejected from a flight that had been overbooked, resulting in two missing front teeth and a broken nose.

'Simon' the giant rabbit

On this occasion, the unfortunate recipient of United Airlines customer service was a continental giant rabbit called 'Simon'. The rabbit, which measured 90cm, and was destined to become the largest rabbit in the world, was being delivered to a mystery 'celebrity' buyer in the US.

Unfortunately somewhere on the flight from London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare airport, the rabbit died in the cargo hold. Simon's owner Annette Edwards from Worcestershire stated in an interview that " Simon had a vet's check-up before the flight and was fit as a fiddle." She has regularly sent rabbits all over the world and nothing like this has ever happened before.

United's reaction

A spokesperson for United Airlines has confirmed that they were " saddened to hear the news" and that they had offered assistance to the customer and "would be reviewing the incident", which is scant compensation for Simon and his owner. For an animal to die on a plane is not unheard of but is still, thankfully quite rare.

According to records from 2015, only 35 deaths of animals were reported on US flights and of those 14 were on United Airlines. During the year in question, the airline transported over 90,000 animals which equates to a mere 2.37 deaths for every 10,000 animals transported.

Bad PR for United

In itself, the death of a rabbit is not particularly newsworthy, however enormous the rabbit was.

The fact that the incident has come Hot on the heels of a huge PR nightmare for United after Dr David Dao was forcibly ejected from a flight only three weeks ago makes it considerably more so. After the first incident chief executive, Oscar Munoz, offered his " deepest apologies for what happened" and all passengers on the flight who witnessed the appalling incident are to be refunded their ticket costs. The incident sparked a major backlash on Twitter as users rallied in support of Dr Dao with darkly humorous mottos for the airline such as;

" Our prices are unbeatable, but not our customers."

"We can't beat our competition, but we can beat you."

The initial incident resulted in United's stocks plummeting, only to rally recently, however, in the wake of this recent PR disaster who knows what will happen.