Last month, a curious photo was shared to Reddit with the caption:
My captain friend sent me this photo. Saudi prince bought ticket for his 80 hawks.
This, of course, begs several questions. Why does someone have a need for 80 birds of prey? Where are they going? What did they order from the service trolley?
As it turns out, the answers are quite simple. An immensely common pastime in the gulf countries among aristocrats is hunting with a falcon or hawk. Most birds tire before their featherless counterpart, so many hunters travel with several. As it turns out, perhaps as many as 80.
Many airlines (notably Qatar, Emirates, and Lufthansa) allow various animals to have a seat in the cabin. While none are lenient on the quantity—Qatar is decently generous at 6 birds per person—as Walter White says, name one thing in this world that is not negotiable.
So who is this Saudi Walter White, and where is this extravagant 80-hawk hunting trip? We don’t know. But don’t worry; there is more to this bizarre story.
Falcons and other trained hunting birds can be worth up to a million dollars. That’s why they are a prized possession in the aristocracy. Unfortunately, that means they are a prized possession for thieves on the black market as well.
To prevent this, the Unite Arab Emirates have developed a system for these birds to go through checking, security, and documentation—just like you and me. The checks are so similar, in fact, that 28,000 of them have been given passports since 2002.
Huh; apparently even birds will have to buy plane tickets before pigs can fly.
Featured image by Lensoo via Reddit.