Checking in 80 falcons on an airplane? No problem!
Recently a Dutch newspaper stated that a flight in Oman was canceled because of a remarkable reason. An unidentified snake was found in the luggage compartment. I could only chuckle a bit after reading the message. The snake could have better checked in.
Checking in 80 Falcons
In the Middle East wild animals often fly in a plane. And not only in the baggage compartment. Falcons sit in the cabin, just like you and me. Some time ago a rich falconer had 80 seats reserved for his impressive birds of prey. The photo went viral over the internet and was published in all newspapers. The shiny feathers in striped, spotted or scaly patterns formed a spectacular contrast with the red checker ghutras of their supervisors.
Falcons just book a flight over the internet via a special website of the preferred carrier which includes flight routes and a price list. The price of a ticket starts from a sloppy 150 Euros. A lot cheaper than when I book a ticket for myself. But then I am totally dependent on the pilot. I can’t fly. Falcons, however, are unbeatable flight champions. Some birds reach speeds up to 350 kilometres per hour.
Like any regular passenger raptors check in with their ticket and personal passport. ‘Saker Falcon, we have reserved seat 11C. On your chair is a gripping mat on which you can cling your claws. Welcome aboard our flight.’ Airline staff treat the impressive and stately birds with respect. It wouldn’t surprise me if the birds get Airmiles too!
Safety instructions and conduct
Once in the aeroplane the falcons stand as silent statues on their grip mats. Their heads covered with a leather cap (burqa) slightly bent downwards. They’re easy and polite passengers to the crew. But when it comes to safety instructions they don’t show any interest. They don’t fasten their seat-belts or adhere to the code of conduct for people in the air. They don’t have to. These widely appreciated and praised birds of prey are protected by an anti-discrimination law. Roving falcons (not to be mistaken for Peregrine Falcons) simply don’t exist. If they defecate on the floor or cause public unrest by fluttering violently, they can’t be taken off the plane. They could only be punished by serving them peanuts for dinner.