The nature of modern air travel means you’re usually crammed in a small space with all sorts of strange characters – but just be grateful you haven’t had to share a cabin with 80 birds of prey.
A photo posted on Reddit, which has gone viral online today, shows a flock of blindfolded falcons seated on a passenger jet.
“My captain friend sent me this photo,” user lensoo wrote in the post. “Saudi prince bought ticket [sic] for his 80 hawks.”
While it might seem unusual, falcons in the cabin aren’t uncommon when flying out of the Middle East, another commenter on the original post pointed out.
“If you fly Etihad or Emirates or Qatar enough you will eventually see someone flying in first class with a falcon sitting next to them,” they wrote.
Falconry (hunting with falcons) is a pastime that has been practised in the area for thousands of years, remaining popular in the United Arab Emirates.
It’s so common that falcons in the Emirates can even get their own forest green passports, Atlas Obscura reported. The passport – valid for three years – allows the falcons to travel to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria.
Etihad Airways also allows falcons on board.
“We accept the carriage of falcons in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary documents have been obtained. We also accept falcons as checked baggage,” its website reads.
Qatar Airways‘ website also states that a maximum of six falcons can be brought on economy class.
It is unknown which airline the picture was taken on.