When most birds want to travel, they usually have to use their wings to do it. But what if you’re a pet falcon of a Saudi Prince? Well then you grab your passport and book a plane ticket of course. Thanks to Reddit, we see these hunting falcons don’t have to sweat a long flight flapping their wings, they get their own reserved seats. While they’re all crammed in economy like most of us non-winged human peasants, we can only assume this is because 80 is just too many for first or business class.
This scene may seem crazy to most people around the world but is quite common in the Middle East, where falconry (trained hunting birds) is a common activity, dating back as far as 8,000 BC. Airlines based in the Middle East all have rules and rates for flying with your falcon, just like with your dog or cat. But unlike cats or dogs who have to be a service animal to be in the cabin with you, falcons have the option to ride in a seat. The usual rules are 1 bird per economy class seat or two per business or first class seat (with a cloth or tray to cover any mess they make).
To ride in the cabin instead of with checked baggage, falcons need passports just like humans, which let them travel to countries in the region. (google images for falcon passports if want to include one). Passports are also important for tracking these important birds, as they can cost up to a $1 million, making theft and trafficking an issue. From when the falcon passport program was started in 2002 through 2013, around 28,000 falcon passports were issued.
Along with passports, falcons also have their own personal rights in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Starbucks having to offer falcons their own seats when they’re in their stores. When we find a photo of a Starbucks filled with falcons sipping macchiatos we’ll let you know.