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Cabin crew were given quite the VIP passenger to look after on a recent budget flight – a koala bear.
The two-year-old animal, called Gowi Nee Bu, was travelling from Paris to his new home in Lisbon Zoo, and he was quite the hit with the flight attendants and fellow passengers.
Portuguese airline TAP hosted the marsupial as part of its work with the Threatened Species Conservation Programme.
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Flying in economy, Gowi Nee Bu wasn't having to battle for the armrest with other travellers. Instead he was seated in a special transport cage with a log of wood inside for him to hold on to in a bid to make the journey more comfortable.
In a holy grail of economy class travel, he was also given an entire row of seats to himself!
A dedicated handler also accompanied him to ensure that the two-hour 30-minute flight was as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fellow passengers were informed about the special guest, with some holidaymakers showing their support for the protected species programme.
Gowi Nee Bu can sleep up to 20 hours a day. Koalas usually like to spend their time resting in the fork of a smooth barked Gum Tree but unfortunately due to deforestation, and other habitat hindering activity, the Koala population is declining, which is why TAP was so keen to play its part in repatriating Gowi Nee Bu.
Ricardo Dinis, TAP Country Manager for the UK & Ireland, said: "We couldn’t bear not to help this endangered species and were delighted to fly Gowi Nee Bu in style on a koala-ty flight with TAP to his new home at Lisbon.
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"Every customer is special to us, so we took care to ensure this little koala bear had a stress-free flight, as we know they are sensitive animals unable to fly in an aircraft’s hold and needed to travel in the comfort of our spacious cabin and close to their handler to look after his welfare while in the air."
It's not the first time that a koala has been given the VIP treatment on a flight.
Back in 2018 an adorable marsupial called Tanami made a surprise appearance on a flight from Dusseldorf to Edinburgh.
He had an entire row of seats to himself, so he could be in a large carrier with plenty of space to roam around and stretch his legs.
While most passengers are limited to an in-flight snack from the trolley, Tanami had a huge bag filled with eucalyptus so he could tuck into his favourite food at any time.
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