Who needs wings when you can fly on a passenger jet?
Some travellers worry about being seated next to a crying baby on a long-haul flight. In the Middle East, you could find yourself instead sitting beside a bird of prey.
An incredible photo shared on Reddit shows a cast of 80 falcons, just casually chilling out in the cabin of a passenger jet.
“My captain friend sent me this photo,” user lensoo wrote in the post. “Saudi prince bought ticket for his 80 hawks [sic].”
Each falcon appears to have its own seat, and in-flight entertainment system – not that they would be able to get much enjoyment out of it, thanks to little hoods covering their eyes (a shame… we think they would really appreciate Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds).
Another commenter on the Reddit thread pointed out falcons in plane cabins are not an uncommon sight in the Middle East, where falconry (hunting with falcons) has been practiced for more than 4,000 years.
“If you fly Etihad or Emirates or Qatar enough you will eventually see someone flying in first class with a falcon sitting next to them,” they wrote.
While we don’t know which airline (or which royal) was involved in this particular instance, it seems they are more than willing to accommodate the feathered predators.
Qatar Airways’ website states that a maximum of six falcons can be brought into economy class, while Emirates allows falcons in the cabin on flights between Dubai and certain destinations in Pakistan.
The Etihad Airways website says: “We accept the carriage of falcons in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary documents have been obtained.”
Falcons must obtain a special passport before flying, which gets stamped at immigration just like any other passenger.
Between 2002 and 2013, the UAE government issued more than 28,000 falcon passports, according to Gulf News.