JEDDAH — Nothing says excess spending like buying 80 seats on a flight – for your birds.
A photo of a plane full of falcons has gone viral after being posted on Reddit by businessman Ahmet Yasar. The photo, which Yasar says was taken by the captain within the last four weeks while on a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, depicts in full view the hugely popular sport of falconry in the Middle East.
According to Traveller.com and BBC News, a Saudi prince bought his falcons their own seats on a plane in order to comfortably transport them to Saudi Arabia for a hunting trip. Yasar told the BBC that each falcon had an estimated worth of about US$8,000.
What made the photo even more amazing was the fact that passengers appear to be seated interspersed throughout the cabin as well, some sitting side by side with a bird.
As shocking as it may seem to North Americans, falconry is so popular in the United Arab Emirates that multiple airlines, such as Eithad, Emirates and Qatar, allow a limited number of pet falcons with checked luggage or in the cabin. The UAE supposedly issued 28,000 falcon passports between 2002 and 2013, as stated by traveller.com.
Not to be one-upped by Emirates, Lufthansa has created a patented bird stand so that ultra-wealthy travellers can be near their falcons during the flight.