Saudi prince bought tickets for 80 falcons, the Telegraph reports:
Posted to Reddit, a photo of the rather bizarre occurrence shows dozens of the birds, each in its own seat in the central rows of the aircraft. Men in traditional Saudi headdresses occupy any seat not taken by a bird.
â€œMy captain friend sent me this photo. Saudi prince bought ticket for his 80 hawks,â€ the user wrote. It is not clear which airline the hawks are flying with.
While this might seem unfathomable, it is not entirely unheard of when flying to or from the Middle East, where falconry is a popular pastime of the wealthy.
Indeed airlines such as Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates each allow falcons – of which hawks are close relations – in the cabin.
Qatar allows a maximum of six birds, but says they are welcome in the cabin. A note on Etihadâ€™s website says: â€œWe accept the carriage of falcons in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary documents have been obtained.â€
Emirates says: â€œAnimals are not permitted in the cabin of Emirates flights, with the exception of falcons between Dubai and certain destinations in Pakistan, and Guide Dogs for the Blind.â€
Lufthansa, the German airline, also made it clear in 2014 it welcomed the birds of prey in the cabin, installing a â€œFalcon Masterâ€ tray for â€œmaximum hygienic protection of the cabin walls, seats and carpets from soiling by the birdsâ€.
IAG, the owner of British Airways, among others, says it transports animals â€œof all shapes and sizesâ€ but makes no specific mention of hawks or the like. Nor does the British low-cost airline Easyjet, or Irish carrier Ryanair.
In 2013, Gulf News reported that more than 28,000 falcons had been issued with passports since 2002 in a bid to combat the illegal trade of the birds in the region.
Though it is fairly rare for an animal to make an appearance in an aircraft cabin, in May last year it briefly became a common sight when Canadian airlines waived the restrictions on pets in the cabin to allow those evacuating forest fire-hit Fort McMurray to fly with their canine and feline companions.