A trip on a flight is rarely something people look forward to and that’s without the jet being filled with killer birds.
That’s what a bizarre image that has been taking the internet by storm purports to show. Row after row, regular economy-class seating is taken up not with crying babies and men with nauseating body-odour, but rather blood-thirsty birds of prey, believed to be falcons.
The image has been around for a while, but has been enjoying a resurgence this week after it was reposted by an account on X, formerly Twitter, called Historic Vids.
It shows some 80 falcons, all hooded, sitting on boards on the backs of plane seats. It is surreal – the birds look both at home and strangely humanoid, sitting bolt-upright and not dissimilar to people making casual chit-chat as their flight cruises at 37,000 feet.
The birds are claimed by Historic Vids and other sources to have belonged to a Saudi Prince, with the royal said to have booked out each of the seats for the birds – only adding to this bizarre anthropomorphised scene.
However, while it might look odd to people mainly familiar with Western culture, the transportation of birds is not a wholly uncommon phenomenon in the Middle East. The falcon is the national bird of the nearby UAE with training having taken place in the region for thousands of years and remains a popular pastime.
Falcons can get their own passports from the UAE which are valid for three years, according to the state’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. It allows them to travel to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria.
A number of airlines have a policy on the birds, so common is the movement of them on airliners. On Qatar’s website, it reads: “You can carry one falcon in the Economy Class cabin of an aircraft, and a maximum of six falcons are permitted within the Economy Class cabin of any one aircraft (country regulations may apply).”
Meanwhile, the Emirates site’s pet policy, it reads: “Pets are not permitted in the cabin, with the exception of falcons between Dubai and certain destinations in Pakistan.”
It is not known what airline this particular image was taken on.
This article by Harry Thompson was first published by The Daily Star on 14 December 2023. Lead Image: Falconry is a popular pastime in parts of the Middle East (file) (Image: AFP via Getty Images).
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