Yes, Falcons Are Permitted on Qatar Airways


I’m not sure quite how this started, but a great many FlyerTalk readers seem lately to have gotten it into their heads that I’m in the business not of trying to make you giggle or even guffaw with tartly acerbic observations about air travel, but of providing advice thereon. It certainly isn’t my intention to encourage this misconception, but I will, in hope of being viewed as a good sport, answer this question from reader Tony K— of Stockport, UK: “I and my life partner hope this summer to spend a couple of relaxing weeks in Doha, to which we will probably fly on Qatar Airways. We hope to bring along our falcons Ernest and Clementine. Will that be possible?”

I’m pleased to report, Tony, that it will indeed be possible. Recognizing that falconry, first practiced in Iran in around 3000 BC, and referred to in the ancient New York Times bestseller The Epic of Gilgamesh, is very popular among its customer base, Qatar allows both falcons and service dogs in the cabin, on the condition that Ernest and Clementine (such adorable names!) remain hooded for the duration.

Given that falconry has traditionally been associated in the Arab world with wealth and nobility, it’s odd that Qatar should restrict its passengers’ feathered friends to Economy, but such restrictions do indeed apply, at least as this goes to press.

Predictably, Qater’s policy has proved controversial. I reached out to a spokesman for the Gulf Association of Birds of Prey, only to find no such organization exists. But should the GABP have been real, I imagine the spokesperson would grouse, “QA apparently wants my clients to feel as though they were being kidnapped. This is outrageous and entirely unacceptable. Naturally, there are always a couple of bad apples in every population, but the vast majority of my clients would be quite happy to enjoy in-flight video entertainment without even a thought to swooping into first class and snatching delicious morsels of food they might, if unhooded, observe being served.”

Meanwhile, Qatar’s public relations department failed to return FlyerTalk’s calls.

I would like to call on other international carriers to allow animals, other than service dogs, in the cabin. Qantas and LAN Perú should allow wallabees and llamas, respectively, to travel side by side, unhooded (of course), in all parts of their own airplanes. LAN Perú may have considerable concern that the llamas might do a lot of spitting, but zoologists at the Lima Zoo will undoubtedly point out that it’s almost exclusively female llamas that spit, and then only when pregnant, to repel the attempts of their male counterparts to mate with them. LAN Perú may wish to administer pre-boarding pregnancy tests.

Iberia should likewise consider allowing shepherds to bring up to two of their ovine charges on board with them, though only in Economy at this point, avoiding the sheep’s terrified bleating in turbulence that might annoy First Class and Business travelers.

Qatar has yet to confirm or deny whether members of the Atlanta Falcons National Football League team will be warmly welcomed in First and Business Classes, as well as in Economy, and not be required to wear a hood, unless it’s a hoodie bearing the team’s insignia.


Comments (Showing 4 of 4)

  • starflyer at 2:34am June 13, 2013

    Odd article. I am hardly surprised that falcons are allowed on planes. But why the strange reference to an organziation that doesn’t exist (GABP), comments about wallabees and llamas, etc? Is this just a poor attempt at humor, fulfilling a requirement to author some minimal number of articles, or a strange idea as to how to drive ad revenue?

  • mlshanks at 6:15am June 13, 2013

    Of *COURSE* the Falcons are relegated back into economy-class. The sort of wealthy Arab sheik who travels with his falcons can afford a cadge boy to man the bird (carry the bird on glove) while in travel… such servants are not the social equals of the falconer. Falcons are actually messy creatures (hint: ripping apart raw birds w/ their beak and talons and projectile defecation), you’re not going to want to see that while sipping champagne and eating caviar in 1st class.

  • JTXC at 6:51am June 14, 2013

    On Emirates, I believe falcons fly business. I’m serious.

  • Dianne47 at 6:05pm June 30, 2013

    A friend of mine was private pilot on a G2 for the oil minister of one of the Emirates. They regularly flew the minister and his friends to falcon hunting excursions all around the Gulf. The crew had to completely cover the cabin with trash bags on all seats and the floor, taping everything. The falcons rode on their owners’ arms/hands.

    The would return from the trips with large coolers full of bustard meat, the falcons’ quarry. I have no idea what happened to the bustard meat, surely it isn’t Halal?

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