Saudi Prince Takes 80 Falcons on Flight

The nature of modern air travel means you're usually crammed in a small space with all sorts of strange characters - but just be grateful you haven't had to share a cabin with 80 birds of prey. The royal family in Saudi Arabia are known for their insurmountable wealth and for their lavish expenses. A Saudi prince has bought plane tickets for his 80 falcons to ensure their safe travel.

Passengers on the plane were astonished when they boarded their flight, only to discover the entire middle section of the plane was occupied by the birds.

A photo posted on Reddit from a Qatar airlines flight in a very, very different world has captured the imagination of viewers who have turned it into a viral hit. The picture of the hooded birds calmly perched on seats was snapped by the pilot of the plane and given to friend “lensoo,” who posted it.

Raptor plane passengers are not as unusual as they may seem, especially on airlines plying the skies of the United Arab Emirates, where falconry is a popular sport. Many airlines serving UAE passengers, including Etihad and Qatar Airways and Emirates air, allow a certain number of raptors in the cabin or in checked luggage — though 80 is admittedly on the high end. Qatar airlines has a page on its website with details on transporting falcons.

The birds were made to wear hoods over their heads to cover their eyes during the flight. Hoods are used to keep the birds in a calm state. "It was a shame they missed out on the in-flight movies," one person joked in response to the tweet.

80 falcons on flight Falcon

In the Middle East, falcons often fly first class with their owners. The UAE even requires falcons to travel with their own passports. The law was issued in 2002 to help reduce illegal trade in the species.

Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) have gone one step further to accommodate super-rich passengers and created a patented bird stand that allows travellers to keep their falcons nearby during the flight.