United Airlines is facing another issue yet again as it was revealed that among other US carriers, United tops the list of having the most in-flight animal deaths in 2016. The US Department of Transportation released and verified the claim and now safety of animal transport in United is under heavy scrutiny.
The issue arose when it was reported that a giant continental rabbit named Simon died while onboard a United flight from London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare Airport, The Guardian reports. It was shipped to the US by a local breeder and is supposed to set a record for being the largest rabbit in the world. Simon's cause of death is not yet determined.
The report made by The Guardian was careful to insinuate that animal transport on planes is still a very safe option, United just happened to be very unfortunate bearing they hold responsible for 14 animal injuries and nine animal deaths in 2016. In the same period, the United States suffered 26 animals, therefore the numbers shown in the report was significant.
According to The Humane Society of the United States' website through Travel Pulse, "While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured or lost on commercial flights each year. "
"Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame. Most U.S. airlines are required to report all companion animal incidents that occur in the cargo hold, and consumers should study the performance record of any airline before choosing to fly your pet in a cargo hold."
Animal rights activists are now appealing to United to adopt more in-depth animal protective measures during flights. Some carriers though, like Delta and JetBlue, chose to ban pets from flying as checked-in baggage.