United CEO Oscar Munoz Apologizes for Death of Simon the Rabbit on Flight

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the death of a three-foot-long giant rabbit on a recent flight from London to Chicago.

“We are deeply sorry for the loss of anything from your luggage to, of course, a loved pet,” he said in a preview of his interview with Lester Holt that aired on the Today show on Thursday, April 27. 

The airline recently found itself in hot water again after Simon, a 10-month-old rabbit who was expected to grow into the world’s largest rabbit, mysteriously died in the cargo hold on the cross-country flight from Heathrow Airport to O’Hare. The current world’s largest rabbit title is held by Simon’s father, Darius, at 4 feet and 4 inches. The prized animal, who was being flown from the breeder Annette Edward to its new owner, had a vet checkup just hours before takeoff and appeared to be healthy.

United previously apologized for the incident in a statement to BBC, saying, “We are saddened to hear this news. The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team.” 

During his NBC News interview, Munoz also addressed the controversy over security forcibly removing a passenger from a flight earlier this month. “It was a system failure across the board,” he said. “I own the policies and procedures and the common sense and the empowerment, if you will, of the people to do the right thing, because a circumstance like we all witnessed should have never happened.”

Munoz explained that the airline will be making numerous policy changes to improve customer experience. United will now offer up to $10,000 for passengers who volunteer to take a later flight, and they will limit use of police to safety and security issues. They will also introduce an automated system at check-in to solicit volunteers to change their travel plans.

The full interview will air on NBC Nightly News on Thursday, April 27. 

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