80 falcons fly economy to Jeddah for a hunting trip

Here’s a picture of 80 falcons flying insouciantly in the cabin of a plane, on their way to Jeddah for a hunting spree. It looks as if they’re flying economy class, too.

This photo, apparently taken by the plane’s captain, was posted on reddit, and PuffHo (which couldn’t resist a gratuitous slap at The Donald) gives more details:

If only we were all Saudi princes and could fly in luxury … with our 80 birds of prey in their seats … and have nothing to fear from immigration officials or President Donald Trump.

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.


Here are the rates; note that one US dollar is about 3.6 Qatari reals. It ain’t cheap!



h/t: Michael


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Can’t the falcons fly on their own accumulated mileage?

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I don’t see any seat belts – these guys are really winging it. Or, how would you like your rodent, baked or fried?

  3. Andrew
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    how are they supposed to watch the pre-flight safety briefing?

  4. Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Are these birds toilet-trained?

    • rickflick
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      They must be. No diapers.

    • Lee
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      And what a mess to clean up. Birds combine feces and urine into one liquidy slurry which is expelled forcefully for four or five feet.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      I have seen falcons being transported through an airport in Kararchi prior to boarding a flight such as his and I can guarantee that they are not toilet trained!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        That would explain the rather high fares, I suppose.

        Remind me never to fly Quatar Airways.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Umm, but I have flown on Emirates and Etihad, both of which were excellent and no sign of birds (or for that matter birdshit).


  5. Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    One wonders what the rules are for ensuring non-native species release into the wild. I’m sure no one would do that deliberately but what if a bunch got loose?

  6. littleboybrew
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Are they each allowed a single carrion???

  7. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    It is not indicated where these are flying to but falconry hunting by Arab Sheiks from the Gulf region is considered to be a major factor in the decline of the Houbara Bustard in countries such as Pakistan.

  8. Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Humorous, yes. But, it also reminds me of the
    non-falcon owning classes in the Middle East
    who can’t afford to fly and whom the wealthy won’t help support. Maybe if the peons would learn to be flying hunters… I’m quite sure some of them already are adept at catching rodents.

  9. busterggi
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Cheap bastards didn’t even spring for peanuts & a coke for each bird.

  10. Claudia Baker
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me, or does this not seem like the height of hedonism & hubris?

  11. Mark R.
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the Saudi prince in question has read the beautiful memoir H is for Hawk. And I wonder what the author, Helen Macdonald would think of this.

  12. W.Benson
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    “If only we were all Saudi princes . . .,” the economy class would be overbooked with Saudi princes.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Are male falcons allowed to sit next to lady falcons?

    It looks here as thought they are all engaged in conversation: “Yes, indeed, I too agree that logos means more than “word” in the Old Testament and that the translator of it was very poor at Greek and was just going with the most simple translation”.

    “Yes yes, old falcon, you have a point”.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I just think if they served up happy meals of rodent on a stick, there could be food fights.

      • busterggi
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Please tell me that you too once played that great Tunnels & Trolls suppliment, ‘Rat on a Stick’.

        Its’ a classic.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted February 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry to disappoint but no. You did have me curious to look it up though.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I thought from the headline the damn things were, like, actually flapping around.

    I have no idea how 80 falcons would behave if released in a confined space but my malicious streak says it would be fun to find out.


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