One can understand national carriers wanting to express the pride they have in their country with, say, the flag on the tailfin or other emblems on the fuselage. In fact we are sure that most people would expect that of their country's main airline and would indeed be let down, if not outraged, if this wasn't the case. Margaret Thatcher made quite clear her thoughts on the matter in 1997 when she famously covered with a paper handkerchief the newly designed tailfin of a model British Airways plane which no longer bore the Union Jack, causing an almost tangibly awkward moment for the airline's representative.
Now, however, three Middle Eastern airlines have taken their patriotism a step further by allowing their passengers to carry on board their countries' national bird! Qatar Airways, Emirates and Royal Jordanian will from now on be permitting their passengers to bring falcons on to the plane in a show of animalistic jingoism. Provided the bird is hooded and secured with a leash, travellers in economy class can be accompanied on their journey by their falcon subject to a fee. Now, we can understand people wanting to travel with dogs or cats, but quite frankly, there cannot be a truly valid reason for having to fly with a falcon, especially as they could very well arrive at the destination themselves!
Whatever the logic of this decision is (most likely a marketing stunt), it got us thinking - what if other major international airlines started to permit their passengers to bring along the national animal of their home country. The results could be extremely interesting!
Air France, for example, should perhaps consider allowing its passengers to bring on board a Gallic Rooster. Potentially less dangerous than a falcon and certainly taking up less space, they could be eaten if anything should happen to them over the course of the flight. What's more, if on an overnight, flight they could be used to wake up passengers in the morning with a cock-a-doodle-doo.
Probably the animal which would be the least trouble on a long haul flight would be a koala. Spending up to three quarters of the day either idol or asleep, they wouldn't even have to be looked after and would go down a treat with the kids! Qantas are missing a trick there, although they'd have to think twice before extending the practice to kangaroos.
Eagles could be another popular choice, with Lufthansa and any of the American carriers possible homes for these birds of prey. While our cousins across the Atlantic would probably love this highly patriotic idea, we can't see the Germans going for it, which is a shame as something needs to lighten the mood!
Although banned in some parts of Spain now, there is a fantastic opportunity for entertainment on board Iberia with a bit if bull fighting. We can see it now, a brave hostess waving the life vest at one end of the aisle while the bull canters down from the other end only to find itself in the cockpit as the stewardess has hidden behind the loos.
But if we had to choose one national animal to bring on board then it would have to be Jamaica's national bird, the Red-billed Streamertail. Not only are they tiny with the male boasting a beautiful bright green chest, it features in the James Bond short story For Your Eyes Only. But, best of all, it has the chance to be a hero should any of the passengers fall ill, its nickname being the Doctor Bird.
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