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Owners of giant rabbit that died on United Airlines flight threaten lawsuit

United Airlines suffered another problematic PR situation Monday, with the threat of a lawsuit surrounding the death of a giant rabbit who died onboard a flight last month.

The 3-foot-long rabbit named Simon — who was en route from his breeder in London to his new owners in Iowa — was found dead in his crate after the plane stopped in Chicago.

>> Giant 3-foot rabbit found dead on United Airlines flight

According to ABC News, although the airline apparently reached an agreement with the breeder on Monday, the would-be owners, a group of Des Moines-area businessmen who had bought Simon and intended to display him at this summer’s Iowa State Fair, are threatening legal action. Simon had been expected to grow to as much as 40 pounds, which would have made him the world’s largest rabbitCBS News reported.

The would-be owners are not only upset about his death but also are questioning why he was cremated so quickly.

>> Read more trending news

Their attorney, Guy Cook, said they are "requesting that United Airlines re-evaluate its policies with respect to the transportation of pets and ask that they take responsibility for this incident," ABC News reported.

United spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline is reviewing a letter from the owners' attorneys and "takes its responsibilities in transporting pets seriously," ABC News reported.

Read more here.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

TSA warns of possible truck-ramming terrorist attacks

Trucks and buses are at the center of the latest government warning regarding possible terrorist attacks, and big cities are being told to stay on alert.

>> Watch the news report here

The Transportation Security Administration is warning truck and bus companies to be on the on the lookout for potential terrorists. It says terrorists may be looking to drive large vehicles into people and buildings.

In a six-page document released to truck and bus companies, the TSA highlighted 17 incidents around the world that have killed more than 170 people since 2014.

>> Read more trending news

This comes after the recent attack in Stockholm, Sweden, where a truck was driven into pedestrians on a street before crashing into a department store. Four people were killed.

More than 80 people were killed in Nice, France, last summer when a man drove a truck into a large crowd.

This announcement also comes as the city of Boston and Red Sox officials made a decision to close down Lansdowne Street outside Fenway Park on game days to prevent potential terror attacks.

During this year’s Boston Marathon, security officials took new steps to make sure runners and fans were safe.

Dump trucks were parked alongside streets to protect the crowds and officers received additional training to detect if someone was up to something suspicious.

Family kicked off Delta flight over seating snafu

A Southern California family was kicked off a Delta flight over a dispute about a child's seat.

The Schears were attempting to travel from Maui to Los Angeles on April 23. They boarded the late-night flight with a 1-year-old child and a 2-year-old child. The couple booked their 18-year-old son on an earlier flight so that their 2-year-old son, Grayson, could be placed in his car seat in that paid seat, according to KABC.

However, the ticket still bore the name of their teenage son, Mason. Delta forbids name changes on tickets, and it’s unclear if the Schears informed Delta about the situation before boarding. When the flight attendant told the Schears that they would have to give up that seat, because Mason was a no-show, a lengthy verbal dispute ensued. Brian Schear remained adamant that he paid for the seat, regardless of who it was for. 

>> Read more trending news 

The flight attendant told the Schears that if they did not abide by Delta's decision, it was a federal offense and that they could go to jail and their kids could be put in foster care.

Airport police can be seen standing by the Schears during the incident, which was captured on video.

>>Watch the video of the full encounter (warning: some profanity)

After further discussion with the flight crew, the flight attendant said that Grayson cannot be in a car seat at all during the flight, but must be held in a parent's arms the entire time, per FAA rules. However, this appears to contradict the FAA guidelines and Delta's own policy, which encourages parents to "purchase a seat on the aircraft and use an approved child safety seat." 

Brian Schear told the flight attendant that Grayson had been in his car seat for the flight to Maui, which was also on Delta, and there had been no issue. He also asked the flight attendant why wasn't his family stopped at the gate, since they had two car seats and two children with them when they boarded.

The flight attendant told the Schears that the plane would not take off until they gave up the seat. After Brian Schear offered to hold Grayson on his lap for the entire flight, a crew member told the family that they were all being removed from the flight or the entire aircraft would be deplaned. 

When Brian Schear asked what he's supposed to do with two young children at midnight, with no hotel booked and no more flights until morning, the flight attendant told him, "At this point, you guys are on your own."

The Schears left the flight, secured a hotel and paid for airfare home on United, which cost $2,000, according to KABC. He said that four standby passengers were placed in their seats as they left the flight, but in a statement from Delta to KABC, the airline claimed the flight was not overbooked. The airline said it was "sorry for what this family experienced" and told Reuters that it had contacted the Schears to refund the family’s travel expenses and provide additional compensation.

Mom thanks flight attendant who helped soothe fussy baby during flight

A mother is thanking a flight attendant for helping to soothe her 4-month-old baby when “all hell broke loose” on a flight.

>> Watch the news report here

Whitney Poyntz was traveling with her husband and daughter to Calgary, Alberta, from Palm Springs, California, on the WestJet airline. Everything was going smoothly until her daughter, Kennedi, started to cry.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“Once the captain came on the intercom it woke her up, which is obviously no one’s fault,” Poyntz wrote on WestJet’s Facebook page. “About 30 minutes later, all hell broke loose.”

>> Read more trending news

Poyntz said her fellow passengers were clearly not happy.

A flight attendant named Ashley approached her and offered to help. She walked baby Kennedi up and down the aisle until she stopped crying.

“I was amazed someone wanted to help like that,” Poyntz told ABC News.

Flight attendants say air inside planes can be toxic

WSB-TV has learned that three airline crews in Atlanta in the past year had emergency medical care after they say fumes on board their planes made them sick.

The director of Georgia's Poison Control Center told WSB-TV’s Tom Regan that the agency received emergency calls three different times in the past year about flight crews falling ill at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

>> Watch the news report here

The jet engines that take you into the air also draw in the air you breathe.

Despite filters, that air sometimes contains invisible fumes that can sicken crews, drawing an emergency response at airports. 

Dr. Gaylord Lopez of the Georgia Poison Control Center told Regan, "We had 13 patients exposed over the past year related to airplane fumes."

He described the symptoms as "coughing, choking, gagging, wheezing, shortness of breath. One felt like they could not breathe anymore."

>> Read more trending news

Lopez said in one case, a ground supervisor also became ill.

"They went to investigate. They breathed the air and they got sickened as well," Lopez explained.

Pressurized cabin air is drawn through the jet's engines. It’s called bleed air. In the engine's oil is an additive called Tricresyl phosphate, or TCP.

If there's a leak or other mechanical issue, fumes from the chemical could circulate into the cabin, affecting passengers, but more often the flight crew.

"I couldn't think. I had nausea. I felt dizzy. I had a headache," said former flight attendant Vanessa Woods.

She said that when she worked for Alaska Airlines, she and three other flight attendants were taken to the hospital after breathing the fumes. The doctor said they had hydrocarbon exposure.

Woods says it has caused neurological issues that have made it impossible for her to work. She and the other flight attendants filed a lawsuit against Boeing, the manufacturer of the plane.

"I want Boeing to make changes. They need to put in sensor alarms, redesign the planes," Woods said.

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In a statement, Boeing told Regan, "The air in our airplane cabins is safe. Boeing's bleed air systems meet all applicable FAA requirements, and an overwhelming body of scientific evidence confirms the safety."

"We know that pilots and flight attendants are getting sick from toxic fumes," Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants told WSB-TV.

Based on a 2016 study from Kansas State University, the flight attendants union estimates there are five fume events each day on airlines worldwide. Most are minor, but the union says there's a risk.

"It's a real concern. Because if a crew member can become incapacitated, and there's a pilot flying the plane, that can be very dangerous to everyone on board," Nelson said.

A WSB-TV investigative producer dug through FAA reports and found more than 100 possible fume events on commercial airlines in the past year. In nine cases, illnesses were reported. The reports filed with the FAA come from a variety of airlines and a variety of planes.

>> ON WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: "The Dirty Dozen" airplanes with the most reported fume events in the past year

"We know that it happened, not only with crews, but passengers that might be closer to the front part of the plane because of the way air circulates and where it starts coming into the plane," Lopez told Regan.

The FAA told WSB-TV that fume events are rare considering the millions of flights in the U.S. every year. The agency also says cabin air is as good or better than the air found in offices or homes.

But the flight's attendants union says more can be done to ensure the safety of the crew and passengers.

“The only way to solve this issue is to build aircraft with alternative air circulation means," Nelson said.

The Boeing 787 is the only commercial plane that doesn't use a bleed-air system.

The flight attendants union says it's working with Congress to require new fume sensors and filters on airplanes. Airbus, like Boeing, says its cabin air is safe.

In response to WSB-TV’s report that Spirit Airlines had 11 out of the top 12 planes with the highest number of reported fume events in the last year, a spokesperson sent the following response:

"Thank you for taking the time to look into this issue. As you heard from the FAA, these events are very rare. To show the rarity of such events, in the time frame you researched (since May 1, 2016), we have had well over 150,000 individual flights, of which 41 have had an odor event. That’s a ratio of 0.000027 of flights. The reason you see more reports of odor events on Spirit aircraft is because we aggressively report our incidents. We have encouraged other airlines to also report their incidents, as well, with the hope of better research and understanding the root causes. While these odor events are very rare, we take each and every incident that takes place on one of our aircraft very seriously. In fact, Spirit is an industry leader in investigating and researching the various causes of these odor events. We have invested substantial dollars on detection equipment to help detect particulates that cause odor events on aircraft. We have also installed a new, more robust air filters on our planes in an effort to reduce the frequency of such events.

"It’s important to note that odor events happen to every airline and every type of aircraft that uses bleed air, and has been an issue in the industry for decades. To call these fume events is mostly hyperbole. There are many reasons the air odor on aircraft can change. It could be because planes are flying through rain clouds and moisture gets into the aircraft's air system; foul odor outside the aircraft that gets through air filters; and yes, it could be because oil or hydraulic fluid odors get past air filters and into the bleed air. All sources of foul odor can be uncomfortable for passengers and crew – but to say these odors are toxic fumes or harmful – is an overstatement. That said, we understand the concern people may have regarding such odors, and that is why Spirit is leading the industry in trying to understand the root causes of the different odor events, with a goal of preventing and hopefully eliminating them in the future."

American Airlines, which also had one plane in the top 12, sent this statement:

"The health and welfare of our crews and customers continues to be our top priority at American Airlines. We take cabin odor issues seriously and have devoted extensive efforts over time, including working with aircraft, engine and auxiliary power unit manufacturers, to address these types of concerns. Our Technical Operations team actively monitors and conducts in-depth inspections whenever a cabin odor event is reported by one of our crewmembers. Our team members are encouraged to report any issues so that we can make improvements to their work environment."

WATCH: Massive fire erupts on I-75 after deadly Ohio gas tanker crash

A car traveling the wrong way on southbound Interstate 75 crashed into a gasoline tanker truck in Dayton, Ohio, creating a massive, smoky fire that shut down the interstate in both directions Sunday evening.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: PHOTOS: Car, truck collide, leading to closure of part of I-75

The blaze and freeway closure sent motorists searching for detours and triggered environmental concerns on reports of thick smoke entering part of the city’s sewer system.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: These detours will help you navigate around SB I-75 closure in Dayton

Almost immediately after the crash, the conflagration sent thick, black smoke high into the air, attracting immediate attention.

The driver of the car, a 30-year-old Beavercreek man, was confirmed killed in the crash, Dayton police Lt. Mark Ponichtera said.

>> Read more trending news

Police and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office did not release the man’s name, nor the name of the truck driver who suffered minor injuries.

Northbound I-75 reopened Sunday night, but police said a portion of I-75 south could be closed for multiple days due to the damage to the highway. 

United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000

United Airlines has announced 10 policy changes after a video of passenger David Dao being dragged off a plane went viral earlier this month.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

In what may be the biggest change, the airline will now offer travelers as much as $10,000 to relinquish their seats on overbooked flights, up from $1,350, according to Bloomberg.

>> United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

In a Thursday news release, the airline also pledged to take the following actions:

  • “Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • “Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • “Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their final destination.
  • “Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • “Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • “Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • “Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • “Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • “Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a 'no questions asked' policy on lost luggage.”

In a statement, United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and said the airline is "taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

>> United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: Our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what's right," Munoz said. "This is a turning point for all of us at United, and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do, and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

Uber plans to take ride-sharing off the ground

The Uber Elevate Summit is live in Dallas this week through Thursday.

>> Read more trending news 

Uber Elevate describes its mission as “fast-forwarding to the future of on-demand, urban air transportation.” 

Uber is working to take its successful ride-sharing services airborne.

The Uber Elevate Summit is offering information and working to bring awareness to the benefits of flying taxis, with car manufacturers, lawmakers and venture capitalists presenting research and preliminary plans for how to get the next phase of Uber off the ground.

The multibillion-dollar company is already detailing its aircraft capabilities – basically, quiet and capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) – and has worked up a drawing of theoretical landing pads in Dallas

Dallas-Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter is on the short list for its first batch of possible air taxi manufacturers, and given its large-scale production capabilities and experience building the type of aircraft that Uber would like, Uber Elevate could be calling Texas home.

Here’s a video of one of Uber Elevate’s other development partners demonstrating its concept of electric-VTOL aircraft:

Government hurdles could be the biggest roadblocks to Uber Elevate taking off, but executives are hoping to begin large-scale production by 2023.

Read more at Uber, and see the full Uber Elevate Summit schedule and speakers here.

New video shows moments before United Airlines passenger was dragged off plane

The story of Dr. David Dao and United Airlines has dominated headlines since late Sunday. Dao was forcibly removed and injured after boarding a United Airlines flight out of Chicago. Footage went viral that showed Dao arguing with officers before he was removed from the overbooked flight.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

On Wednesday, a new video began to circulate that showed the moments leading up to Dao’s removal.

>> Watch the video here

Dao was randomly selected to de-board the aircraft when United Airlines personnel needed extra seats in order to travel for work. A Twitter user named Joya Cummings claimed to be a passenger on the flight. Cummings uploaded a video on Tuesday morning that showed what happened before Dao was removed.

>> Merriam-Webster trolls United, defines 'volunteer' after harrowing video goes viral

“I won’t go,” Dao tells officers when they tell him he needs to leave the plane.

“I’m a physician, [I] have work tomorrow.”

>> All passengers on United Flight 3411 to receive compensation

When Dao is informed that he will be dragged off the flight, he threatens to sue United Airlines.

TMZ later uploaded a compilation of videos provided by Cummings.

>> See the clips here

“You can then drag me…I’m not going.” Dao says.

“I’d rather go to jail.”

>> Read more trending news

Dao was ultimately taken off the flight and reportedly injured in the process.

Widow of bus driver in deadly Texas crash dies days after husband's memorial

The wife of the man who was behind the wheel of a church bus involved in a deadly head-on crash near Uvalde, Texas, that claimed his life and the lives of 12 others last month has died.

Dianne Barrett, the wife of Murray Barrett, died a few days after a memorial service was held for her husband in New Braunfels, according to First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, which released the following statement to the American-Statesman on Wednesday:

“We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dianne Barrett. We continue to pray for our Lord's mercy and comfort for our church family members who continue to grieve.” 

>> Driver who hit church bus, killed 13 was texting, witness says

Barrett is listed on the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels website as a ministry assistant.

New Braunfels police spokesman David Ferguson said Barrett’s body was found inside her home on Walnut Heights Boulevard around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday after emergency crews were dispatched for a medical emergency.

“Crews arrived and found the female deceased,” he said.

>> Read more trending news

A justice of the peace arrived and officially pronounced Barrett dead, and ordered a standard autopsy. Ferguson said there were no signs of foul play.

Murray Barrett and 12 others were killed March 29 when their church bus collided with a pickup that had swerved into oncoming traffic on U.S. 83 north of Uvalde.

Only two people survived the collision, the pickup’s driver, 20-year-old Jack D. Young, and one of the bus passengers, 64-year-old Rose Harris.

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