Flying on a plane is generally an awful experience, but next time you’re crammed in the middle seat counting down the hours, be thankful there aren’t 80 birds perched in coach with you.
An image posted Monday morning on Reddit of a Saudi prince who brought 80 birds on a plane is going viral:
We’ve reached out to the author of the Reddit thread about the photo and will update the post if we learn anything else about which airline accommodated the birds, how long it took to situate them, and generally how well-behaved they were on the flight.
The author of the Reddit thread says the birds are hawks, but it’s more likely they are falcons.
Transporting falcons in the Middle East is a pretty common practice. Falconry – training birds to hunt – has been practiced in the Middle East for thousands of years and is still a popular pastime in the United Arab Emirates.
The falcon is also the national bird of the UAE, so it makes sense that airlines flying out of there would accommodate the birds’ transit needs.
A Reddit user pointed us in the direction of a helpful Atlas Obscura article that says falcons can get their own passports from the UAE to travel. The passport allows a falcon to travel to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria, according to the article.
The passport is valid for three years, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
A representative for the airline Flydubai told Frank Kane, a reporter for the UAE news website The National, that falcons must have their own seat and are placed on a cloth to avoid accidents. According to Kane, the business-class cabin of his Flydubai flight in April 2015 was reserved for falcons – so this isn’t as rare of an occurrence as we may think.
On Qatar Airways, you can bring a maximum of six falcons in the economy class cabin, and one in economy class.
Etihad Airways also allows falcons on its planes.
“We accept the carriage of falcons in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary documents have been obtained. We also accept falcons as checked baggage,” Etihad’s website says.
An Etihad spokesperson told Business Insider that based on the cabin and flight crew uniforms, it’s unlikely the Reddit photo was taken on one of the airline’s planes.
So if you’re looking to transport a falcon in the near future, it may not be as hard as you think – depending on where you’re going, of course.