A picture shared with the following caption is going viral: “My captain friend sent me this photo… Saudi prince bought ticket for his 80 hawks.” Ahmet Yasar who posted the picture stated,that it was an A330 plane and headed to Jeddah, a city in Saudi Arabia. However, the man couldn’t reveal which airline the picture was taken on.
It turns out, the birds were actually falcons, and apparently it is not uncommon to see wealthy people from the Arab countries transporting their birds on a plane. Hunting with falcons or using them for competitive sports have long-lived traditions in the region and falcons are considered auspicious birds – for instance, Abu Dhabi even has its own hospital dedicated to falcons.
Various airlines such as Etihad, Qatar and others allow falcons to board the plane for the additional cost of up to $630 per bird depending on the destination (Qatar Airlines pricing). Lufthansa even offers a custom-designed bird tray for that purpose. Oh, and falcons even have their own passports. It is believed that between 2002 and 2013, the UAE government issued more than 28,000 falcon passports, costing around $130 each. That’s not that big of a sum, knowing that the best of the falcons can cost up to $250,000.