A Saudi Prince recently purchased tickets for a commercial flight for all his pet falcons. A total of eighty plane seats were booked up and the other passengers and cabin crew looked on in shock with the birds of prey preparing for their flight.
The birds were flown on an A330 commercial plane to Jeddah. While this may seem completely crazy to you and me it is quite normal for rich Arabs to fly their many pets around on commercial airlines. But maybe not so many as eighty at a time though.
Hunting with falcons has been a popular sport among the Arabs for hundreds of years and their is even a special hospital for Falcons in Abu Dhabi.
Many commercial airlines such as Etihad and Qatar allow passengers to purchase plane seats for their falcons at a cost of $630 per bird. Lufthansa even has special designed bird trays for such journeys.
Each falcon has to have their own passports too. In fact according to the UAE government more than 28,000 falcon passports have been issued over the past fifteen years.
Falconry is an ancient sport that has been practiced since before 2000 BC. Many of the pyramids of Egypt have pictures of falconry events and it was also a popular sport in ancient China.
Ater the invention of firearms falconry took a steep decline as it was easier to hunt with a gun than a bird but many people have continued the tradition for sporting purposes.
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