While this picture may seem crazy to most of us it is quite normal to see falcons on a plane while traveling around Saudi Arabia but usually not as many as this.
The plane is such a safe means of transportation that now even birds are flying inside. At least that’s what happened according to a Reddit social networking user who shared a photo sent by a pilot friend. In it, dozens of pet falcons are blindfolded and seated on a commercial flight.
The unusual scene was the wishes of a Saudi prince who bought seats for his 80 pet falcon birds to travel to a hunting event. It is not uncommon to see falcons on a plane from Middle Eastern airlines but never this many.
Which Airlines Allow Falcons On a Plane?
Qatar Airways normally allows its passengers to carry up to six birds in economy class, with prices varying between $350 and $2,000 per bird depending on destination. Passengers travelling in Business class are allowed to take just pet Falcon on board with them.
Etihad, another company in the region, also allows owners to take their pet falcons on a plane as long as proper documentation is provided.
Some passengers also like to take falcons on a plane because they can be emotional support animals too. Not sure how a blindfolded bird tied down can help but if it aids people to feel calm and relaxed then why not.
Habitually used in hunting, falcons are very popular animals in the United Arab Emirates, where falconry is a sport that moves millions of dollars.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates, has the largest falcon hospital in the world. The concern with the birds is such that the country issues a passport to them, seeking to curb the traffic.
What`s So Special About Falcons?
Falcons are extremely fast, they have been recorded hitting incredible speeds of over 240 mph while diving for prey. No other animal has ever been seen traveling at these speeds. There amazing aerodynamic torsos and specially pointed wings which can beat four times per second all help this magnificent bird reach this mind blowing speeds.
They also have incredible eye sight, they can easily spot a tasty meal as far as 2 miles away and when combined with their speed it makes them one of the best hunters on the planet.
Why Are There So Many Pet Falcons in Saudi Arabia
Falconry is a recreational activity that has been around since 2000 BC. Even though it is still practiced around the world Saudi Arabia is probably the last country to have preserved the original tradition of the sport. But it was originally not intended as a pastime but as a means to supplement a sparse diet.
Falcons are regarded as precious birds and are in great demand in Arab countries. They are seen as the symbols of courage and power. But despite the sport being most popular in Saudi Arabia the majority of the falcons are actually imported from the United States and Canada.
Every year there is a Saudi Falcons and Hunting Exhibition which is organized by the Falcon Club and held at the Riyadh Front. More than 70,000 people attend this event where they can tour 30 display sections that sell various hunting and camping gear.