How 80 Falcons Managed to Get Seats on a Commercial Airliner

A Saudi prince just showed that, for the right price, your falcons can leave the driving to the professionals.

When a photo showing an estimated 80 falcons flying in the cabin of an airliner was shared via Reddit recently, many viewers questioned if the image was legit. But it turns out that money can indeed lead to a cabin full of feathered passengers, and not only in the Middle East, where the falcons appear to have originated.

Pet owners with charges not normally allowed on regular commercial flights can use their own airplane, book a private jet or charter a commercial airliner flight to transport their animals. The latter appears to have been what the prince did.

The plane looks to be a commercial airline Boeing 767, according to Jordan Oates, a flight manager at PrivateFly, which among other special services can make all arrangements for pet owners who wish to travel with their pets in an aircraft cabin.

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"We've had clients fly with their micropigs, full blown pigs, birds and many other animals," Oates said.

He quickly added, "No elephants, though."

Here in the states and in Europe, the pets are predictably most often dogs and cats. Eleven dogs, for example, recently received the VIP treatment on a flight from the U.K. to Belgium. An entire jet was booked to transport a single cat from Edinburgh to Paris.

In the case of the falcons, Reddit user "lolalollipopp" commented that such birds are commonly seen on planes in the Middle East, given the popularity of falconry there.

"I would assume that these falcons are on their way to a hunting meet, as typically a member of a royal family would have the falcons transported on seat backs and not on flat tables," the person wrote. "If ever a flat piece of wood is fashioned as a perch for falcons to sit on, then a rug is used for grip and then discarded after the flight."

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Presumably the rug and wood could catch any stray feathers, not to mention bird waste.

Oates mentioned that private jets transporting pets are kept spotless, and that another round of cleaning takes place if the furred or feathered passenger soils any part of the aircraft.

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