Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are favored by at least 3 points to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday. But for Falcons fans looking for a good omen, search no further than this photo of a Saudi prince…and friends.
An image of a Middle Eastern passenger jet posted on Reddit this week has the internet going bananas. Of the 80-odd customers in the cabin, only around half appear to be human. The rest are falcons, no doubt part of the prince’s rather expensive hobby.
Even more hilariously, the avian passengers were flying with passports.
Falconry, or training the birds to hunt game, has been a popular pastime in the Middle East for millennia and is still going strong in the United Arab Emirates. Birds can be transported in the cabin, not the cargo section of a passenger plane – so long as they have the proper documentation. A valid passport allows a feathered friend to fly to Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and several other countries.
As seen in the photo, plastic mats are usually kept nearby in case nature begins calling.
It is not known on which airline the royal hunters were being transported. On Qatar Airlines, only 6 falcons at a time are allowed to travel in the seats. But a spokesman for Flydubai, a UAE airline, told Business Insider on Tuesday that an entire business cabin was once reserved for a flock of falcons in 2015.
Lufthansa Airlines actually employs a flight attendant called “The Falcon Master,” whose job “ensures maximum hygienic protection of the cabin walls, seats and carpets from soiling.”
In other words? The airlines let the birds fly, but they aren’t taking any crap.